Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based hiking group | Date: in September 2023 | Duration: 1 day | Walking Distance: 2.5 miles | Participants: 6 | Elevation Gain/Loss: 55 feet
Our group followed a mowed pathway around the perimeter (from 18th Avenue in west Eugene) to the south end of the preserve. The area was quiet and there were pleasant views of the nearby hills. The trip leader took a spill on the trail. Walking to the east we attempted to cross a little creek but poison oak had turned seasonally red revealing its abundance. We decided it best not to risk it and returned to our original route back to the cars. Willow Creek’s native grasslands, ash woodlands, and perennial streams provide the best remaining example of native wet prairie habitats in the southern Willamette Valley. The property is managed by the Nature Conservancy where more than 200 native plants, 100 birds, and 25 butterfly species have been recorded on the preserve. This biome once occupied much of the Willamette Valley, but today has been reduced to only a few remnant patches.