Play Outside During Great Outdoors Month

June is National Great Outdoors Month, a time to explore our abundant natural areas, parks, and beautiful outdoor spaces.

Here are some ideas for activities you can do to celebrate!

Birding. There is ample opportunity for birding in Springfield! We recommend starting at larger natural areas like Dorris Ranch, Clearwater Park, Thurston Hills Natural Area, and the Middle Fork Path. Birds you may see include American Coots, Canada Geese, Western Grebe, American Robins, Brown Creepers, Great Blue Herons, Osprey, and Red-breasted Sapsuckers. New to birding? Here’s how to start.

Camping. While we don’t permit camping at Willamalane parks, we do have camping gear available to rent. Learn more about gear rentals here. Try spending a night in your own backyard, or visit a campsite when they reopen!

Disc golf. Try the nine-hole disc golf course at Clearwater Park! There’s also a great course just across the way at Alton Baker Park or at Westmoreland Park.  If you want to drive a bit further there are eighteen-hole courses at Stewart Pond in Eugene and at Dexter Park in Dexter. Never played before? Here’s how it works

Discover Willamalane Scavenger Hunt. What treasures and vistas await you? Form a team and decipher clues to find the location of each Willamalane attraction! We post three new clues every week to keep you searching and exploring. Join in the fun.

Geocaching. This global game makes use of GPS technology to play hide-and-seek with small treasure containers called geocaches. Believe it or not, there are hundreds of these small containers hidden in Springfield alone! Learn how it works, then try searching for geocaches at West D Street Greenway, Marylhurst Park, Jasper Road Trailhead, Willamette Heights Park, and Willamalane Park.

Hiding painted rocks. Springfield is a hotbed of painted rock activity; just ask the Lane County Rocks #LCR group on Facebook! Some of the most popular “rocking” spots in town are Ruff Park, Clearwater Park, and Dorris Ranch. If you find a rock with #LCR on the back, make sure to take a picture and share it with the group! It’s also fun to paint rocks of your own to hide; get started with this guide.

Kayaking. Kayaking is a great way to explore the outdoors, and Willamalane has riverfront property along the Willamette River and Mckenzie River, as well as three boat ramps (Clearwater Park, Island Park, and West D Street Greenway).  If you prefer flatwater, then the Fern Ridge Reservoir, Fall Creek Lake and Dorena Lake are some incredible options.  Practice water safety and always bring a life vest. 

Mountain biking. Are the flat, paved trails along Willamette River not challenging enough? Check out our fun single direction, dirt trails at Thurston Hills Natural Area. If that isn’t enough, then head out to the Carpenter Bypass trail system, Alsea Falls Trail, the North Shore Trail, or the Goodman and Hardesty trail. Trailforks is an awesome, free app that will help you find new trails and has maps for most trails in the area.   

Painting. Also known as painting en plein air, taking your paints outdoors can create a unique, unpredictable experience that can be an enjoyable contrast to painting in a studio. A serene landscape like Island Park is a great spot to set up your easel.

Photography. Love getting up close and personal with flowers? Try wildflower searching at Dorris Ranch or Thurston Hills Natural Area! Do you like looking for creatures like frogs, turtles, and garter snakes? The Mill Race Path and Middle Fork Path are great places to start. 

Picking blackberries. Blackberry season is typically from July to September, but due to a mild winter, we anticipate seeing some ripening in late June. Clearwater Park is a great place for finding blackberries. Bring an extra container to pack some home, and try making blackberry jam from your pickings!

Skateboarding, scootering, and rollerblading. Put on your safety gear and get rolling! There is an excellent skate park at Willamalane Park that is perfect for these activities. Fun fact: when this skate park opened, the ribbon was cut by none other than Tony Hawk!

Ultimate frisbee. If you want to get a friendly game of ultimate going, or take your skills to the next level, check out the big open fields in the Les Schwab Sports Park, Willamalane Park, or out at the West D Street Greenway.  

No matter how we enjoy exploring the outdoors, we can definitely hear nature calling this time of year. Where will you go?


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