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.
Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based hiking group | Date: in April 2023 | Duration: 1 day | Walking Distance: 4.5 miles | Participants: 8 | Elevation Gain/Loss: <100 feet | Type: Urban Walking
Walkers, runners, bikers, birders, and anyone who enjoys exploring the many trails and paths of the Whilamut Natural Area in Eugene, Oregon (and nearby Springfield) can learn from these quiet stones of place. The stones help to connect people with traditional names on the land and remind people that the Kalapuya people are still here. Our 2.5-hour walk was sunny and the temperatures were perfect for a springtime walk. Shown is the Gudu-kut stone; Gudu-kut is the Kalapuyan name for frog.
Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based hiking club | Date: March 2022 | Walking Distance: 3 miles | Participants: 10
Downtown Eugene has some colorful building-sized murals along with multiple micro-art pieces. It’s been about 9-months since a previous walk downtown, it was good to see several old favorites, and a few new pieces too.
Shown are two recent additions: “We Rise” by Rachel Wolfe Goldsmith & a colorful Tyrannosaurus mural by Bayne.
Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based hiking club | Date: February 2022 | Walking Distance: 5 miles | Participants: 11
Scattered throughout the Whilamut Natural Area in Eugene, Oregon (and nearby Springfield) are 15 boulders etched with words from the Kalapuya language. These are the Kalapuya Talking Stones, and they help educate and remind visitors that the Kalapuya people, the original inhabitants of the area, are still here. The writing on the stones reflects natural items in the traditional landscape. We enjoyed visiting all 15 stones on our walk.
On Saturday, February 26th, attend the Kalapuya Storytelling & Drumming event (Downtown & Online) at the Eugene Public Library.
Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based hiking club | Date: February 2022 | Walking Distance: 6 miles | Participants: 10
Steve Prefontaine “Pre” is one of Oregon’s greatest sports legends. He is a former Duck (University of Oregon) athlete who helped to fuel the American running craze in the mid-1970s, earned a fourth-place Olympic finish in 1972 (5K), and numerous American records including seven NCAA titles. He is the inspiration for many runners in the decades since. Tragically, he was killed in a car crash at the age of 24 near the UO. On this walk, we learn more about “Pre” through some of the places he visited, urban trials he likely ran on during trainings at the UO, his memorial, and ending by visiting the world-class Hayward Field. Please share any stories or knowledge you have of this running legend while on our walk. The image is from Hayward Hall at Hayward Field, University of Oregon.
Trip Report: Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based Hiking Club | Date: June 2021 | Distance: 3 miles | Participants: 7 | Type: Urban Walking | Trip leader and participants were fully vaccinated against Covid-19
After a year and a half since last seeing the murals and micro-art pieces in downtown Eugene, it was good to check everything out. A few of the pieces, particularly several “Jumpers” by WK Interact (forms that appear to be moving as though in Parkour jumps) seem to have disappeared while others have suffered some weathering. One newer piece by Bayne (shown), at the edge of Willamette Alley and Broadway, was very colorful. The group did see several production staff members that were working on a TV show, later we meet a man who said the show was called, â€œBurger Truck Brawl” and they were filming in Eugene. As we finished we walked through the Graduate Hotel and saw multiple athletes who were attending the U.S. 2021 Olympic Track and Field tryouts. One member of our group inadvertently stepped into a line thinking it was for the restroom and was then told it was for the Olympic drug-testing area. We finished our 2.5-mile art walk outside a nearby ice cream shop.
Winter is a wonderful time to explore Eugene, Oregon. Here’s a sampling of several group tours I led in late 2019 to see local murals, holiday lights, the university, and historic districts.
Leading an evening walk to see some of the holiday lights.
Learning about a local author (Opal Whiteley) and the statue commemorating her life. This was part of a local art walk.
After a tour, I always ask if participants would like to continue their day (or evening) enjoying some local flavors.
A walk through the grounds of the University of Oregon to see local art and craftsmanship.
Enjoying a brief side-trip to learn about some of the participant’s explorations in Oregon with this wall-sized map.
There are always curious things to see on my trips, this Holiday skeleton was spotted in a car while I was leading a recent group walk.
Eugene was once home to 18-miles of electric streetcars (trolleys). On this neighborhood walk, our group was able to see some of the original tracks that are resurfacing.
This location is actually near an old stop on the historic trolley line (from the previous photo), but today the stop is home to little free tea kiosk where a person can get a hot cup of tea and enjoy a book.
Walk participants are finding some micro-art pieces for themselves in this photo. This is a trompe-l’Å“il art piece, it uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that looks three dimensional.