I thought it might be nice, once in a while, to tell you about a nice ride I took.
So over in Springfield, you may have heard, they have a new stretch of path along the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. It’s been open all summer, so I’m hardly breaking news here. In fact, they celebrated the grand opening last April 26, with a big wing-ding that was attended by U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio and other peoples of official-dom.
As is often the case with this sort of thing, DeFazio was a key player, having smuggled something like 2.7 million bucks out of Washington, D.C., using that same wheelbarrow he pushes in the Eugene Celebration Parade. Speaking of which, here he is, just a couple of weeks ago:
And they did a heck of a nice job. That’s what I think. I can tell that the people who made this happen are proud of this path, because for that grand opening ceremony, guess what they did?
They got out the Big Scissors.
Where do you suppose they keep the Big Scissors when they’re not using them? Is there a really big coffee cup on somebody’s desk? Does the Willamalane parks district have its own set of Big Scissors? Or do they have to run over and borrow them from the city of Springfield? Or does DeFazio bring them, since he finds himself at a lot of these things?
DeFazio chief-of-staff to aide: “OK, make sure you get Pete and the Big Scissors over to Clearwater Park by 4:45 p.m. Whatever you do, don’t forget the Big Scissors. You can even forget Pete if he won’t fit in the car, but make sure you get the Big Scissors over there.”
By the way, if you need some Big Scissors go here. It’ll cost you $175 for a standard pair, $275 if you want the deluxe version with the gold-colored blades. But I’m digressing again. Where was I?
Oh, yeah, I was in a really lovely spot by the Middle Fork. And aside from the fact that this path doesn’t go anywhere, it is a really nice ride. But maybe that’s why it’s a nice ride.
Here’s how I got to the new path from downtown Eugene:
Leaving from Broadway and Willamette Street, it’s about 9.5 miles to the beginning of the new path. The new path itself is 2.5 miles, so this hardly seems like a logical thing to do. But what the hell. I had a free morning.
So round trip it was about 24 miles. The worst part, without a doubt, was the stretch on Main Street in Springfield from 28th to 32nd.
The new path begins at Clearwater Park, which is as about the equivalent of 45th Street or so, a couple of miles south of Main Street.
From here on out, I’ll stop rambling and just show you what I saw.
Here we are on the approach to Clearwater Park, a quiet country road known as Clearwater Lane:
And as soon as you are clear of the parking lot, you realize how relatively quiet and undeveloped this part of Springfield is.
There’s a nice canopy above, dappled sunlight below:
There are wildflowers —
lupin, maybe, but I’m not much of a naturalist. [update: Foxglove, I hear]:
Nice views of the river and the Mount Pisgah area on the other side:
Again, I’m not a birder, either, so I can’t tell you what kind of raptor this is. Maybe one you knows:
By the way, I’m not sure bike paths need stripes, but …
And it is as well signed as the highway over Cape Perpetua:
And we should remember that it is a multi-use path:
Where is DeFazio with that wheelbarrow when we really need him?
It’s also family friendly, which means it’s probably not the place to go with your roadie pals for a 25-mph paceline.
And then you come upon a picnic area, so bring a snack and a bottle of wine.
And then, you come to a bridge across Quarry Creek, and …
I am told by Willamalane planner Rebecca Gershow that the cash is in hand for Phase 2a (thanks again, Pete!), which will take the path around Quarry Butte to Dorris Ranch. Willamalane is hoping construction begins early next summer, as soon as things dry out enough.
When it opens, you’ll then be able to pass through to Dorris Ranch, where you can use the existing gravel roads to emerge near downtown Springfield. So the path will indeed go somewhere at that point.
Willamalane is still working on getting the money for Phase 2b, which will pave a path through Dorris Ranch and build a trailhead at the west end. So if the path is a bit isolated right now, you have to remember this is just one piece of the big picture.
In fact, if you look on the map, you see a dotted black line labeled “Possible future bridge.” This would link the path with the Mount Pisgah area.
It’s a pretty cool idea, but I am told that this is a long-range project that involves some complicated environmental issues. Don’t expect it to be built anytime soon. Still, Gershow said Willamalane is trying to find some money to study the feasibility of the bridge.