It’s not even officially open yet, but I can tell you already that Willamalane’s brand new Thurston Hills Natural Area in Springfield, Oregon, is a gem. The grand opening is Feb 3, but our family hiked it today so we could tell you all about it.
In short? GO. Go hike it NOW. It’s gorgeous and you’re going to love it.
Parking is off Main Street and 75th street in Springfield’s Thurston neighborhood. There are ample parking spaces, bathrooms with flush toilets, and even a bike washing station.
We started up the trail and saw lots of local families enjoying a bit of winter sunshine. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail and doggie bags were provided.
The first two miles are uphill, but we found the switchbacks to be broad, creating a gentle slope. None of us had any trouble with the slope, and no one else that we encountered appeared to be out of breath either.
Before long, we were under the trees and the trail is jaw-droppingly beautiful. The trail winds through a lovely forest with mosses, frequent small streams, and a few views of the mountains.
Along the way, we met a LOT of people. The trail wasn’t crowded, by any means, but clearly lots of people had the same idea we had: to enjoy a beautiful winter day exploring a new trail. Everyone was very friendly and eager to express how beautiful this new trail is. Many people had dogs, and on this day, all were leashed and very polite. We also met people from all age groups–babies in carriers, older gentlemen with canes, little kids running amok (ours, too), and every age between. Everyone appeared to be having a wonderful experience.
Back to the Parking Lot
We hiked for about a mile before our little ones were tired. We turned around and headed back to the parking lot, determined to come back again soon. My husband wants to hike it in the rain, and I think that would actually be a fun experience. I’d like to hike the whole 2 miles to where the gravel ends (the trail continues, but others said it was muddy on that day).
My 12-year-old daughter had her camera with her and took some amazing photos. For your pleasure, here is a small gallery of some of her favorites. Click to enlarge.