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Whilamut Natural Area

Alton Baker Park is lovely in the fall. Photo by Bari DoeffingerLooking for an interesting place to go for an in-town stroll, hike, run, canoe, or bike ride? Why not explore the Whilamut Natural Area of Alton Baker Park, a lovely green space located in the middle of our busy urban community. (See Maps and Guidelines for more information.)

All sorts of wild animals live in the Whilamut Natural Area (WNA), from beavers to butterflies, herons to hummingbirds. Many other critters, from osprey to otters, stop by more occasiWatch for osprey along the Willamette River -- Photo by Marlon Pineda onally. We’ve even seen a fox darting through the meadow near our office in the Park Host Residence!

A variety of tall trees grace the park with their presence. A lovely corridor of cottonwoods grows along the Willamette River. Stately Douglas firs and grand old oaks thrive on higher ground. Bigleaf maples, incense cedars, and an old filbert orchard grow in other areas. If you look closely, you’ll even find a huge Ponderosa pine in the middle of the park!

In the spring, wildflowers are abundant along park trails. Camas, delphinium, cow parsnip, fairy bells, bleeding hearts, and meadowrue are just a few of the blooms you’ll see. The Walama Butterfly Meadow features even Dephinium blossoms brighten Alton Baker Park in the spring.more flowers. In autumn, bigleaf maples turn bright yellow and fallen leaves carpet the hiking trails.

If you are looking for water-oriented adventures, the Whilamut Natural Area will not disappoint you! Throughout the year, you can fish or paddle your canoe in the park's canoe canal. This waterway begins in West Alton Baker Park, near the park's main parking lots, and meanders through the park all the way to Springfield's Eastgate Woodlands Park. The best place to launch your own canoe is at the small launching area off Leo Harris Parkway, near the off-leash dog run. (Look for the small boat lauch icon on the park's kiosk map to locate this launch area.) In the summer, Oregon River Sports rents Once upon a time, Alan Alga and Fran Fungus got together and took a "lichen" to each other! They've been together ever since! -- Photo by Marlon Pinedacanoes in West Alton Baker Park. See Oregon River Sports for information about current rates and hours. All along this route, watch for great blue herons, ducks, geese, osprey, beavers, dragonflies, and all sorts of other wild critters.

The Willamette River, which flows along the park's southern border, is also a lovely place to boat, fish, or hike. A boat ramp is located in the park, with access just beyond the park's main parking lots. The Ruth Bascom Riverbank Bike Path System extends all the way to north-west Eugene--and back again! (See Maps and Guidelines for more information about bike paths and the boat ramp.)

There's a fungus amongus! -- Photo by Dave WinesSeveral interpretive kiosks are located in the park. Each of these kiosks include an informative park map as well as a panel featuring other interesting information—facts about local wildlife, Kalapuya life and lore, Pre’s Trail history, or park events. Look for Nearby Nature’s kiosk, which includes information about upcoming park events, right outside the Park Host Residence.

Go on a natural treasures hunt in the Whilamut Natural Area with your friends or family soon! Let us know what you discover. Send us photos at info@nearbynature.org we’ll post them on our website!

Volunteer opportunities in the Whilamut Natural Area are available for folks interested in leading school nature walks for kids, assisting with summer daycamps, or working on restoration projects. See Volunteering for more information.

 

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