Monday, August 31, 2020


Walkers, runners, and cyclists share this path along the Willamette River
in Alton Baker Park, Eugene, Oregon

My friend and fellow children’s book author Caroline Hatton took all the photos in this post in recent years when she enjoyed this free outdoor activity on her visits to Eugene, Oregon.
Canada geese. Alton Baker Park is a good place for family activities.
When in Eugene in the Spring and Summer, my days often start with a walk in Alton Baker Park in the heart of the city. The park’s 400 acres (~162 hectares) stretch along the Willamette River. The park is named after Alton F. Baker, Sr, who was a local newspaper owner and philanthropist.

Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides) on a pond.
I love the wild river banks and natural forest, and the abundance and variety of birds. On many days in the same spot, a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) flew over as if in slow motion. A Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides) on a pond was my first sighting of its species. But the most fun were the rare geese that didn’t match any bird website photo, probably because their parents didn’t look alike, but they fell in love anyway.

No crowd, early in the morning.
At 6 a.m. I rarely encounter other humans. When I did on the wide paths I chose, physical distancing was easy.

On this Kalapuya Talking Stone, the word “camafeema” means “ferns on the ground” in the local indigenous language.
To honor the Kalapuya, the indigenous people who once called this area home, trailside Kalapuya Talking Stones display words in their language along with the English equivalent. I stopped by each stone to honor those who walked there before.

Alton Baker Park is bejeweled with art works.
The park showcases art works, and contains venues for cultural and sports events. Until I came upon a disc golf target (like a basket made of chains, mounted at chest level), I had never heard of this game, played with a flying disc reminiscent of a frisbee.

A bucolic spot.
My idea of fun with water is to stay out of it and look for interesting photos to take. The park’s varied bodies of water offered endless possibilities to me. Those who don’t mind getting wet can launch a boat on the river or, for calmer water, on the man made  Canoe Canal, stocked with trout for better fishing luck.

Vast open fields add to the diversity of environments in the park.
I have explored miles of paths through forest and prairie in the park. Runners passed me on Pre’s Trail, designed by the late Steve Prefontaine, the long-distance running legend who lived in Eugene. 

Other outdoor attractions in Alton Baker Park include the dog park, the scaled models of the sun and its planets on the Eugene Solar System Trail, and the Nobel Peace Park area, which honors American laureates. But what I want to see next is the Hays Tree Garden, filled with trees chosen for their foliage and donated in honor of loved ones.