Four years ago as an incoming freshman to the University of Oregon, I was thrilled at the idea of getting to run in Eugene, the mecca of running, on a daily basis. There was just one small problem. I had no idea where to go. Soon enough, I discovered several running routes that turned into favorites. Even now, I’m still finding new places to run. Listed below are some of my favorite spots to run in Eugene.
1. Willamette River Paths
Looking for an easy, peaceful run along the river? Head to the Willamette River Paths, located practically right across the street from campus. These series of connecting paths stretch for a total of 12 miles on either side of the river.
One of my favorite parts of this route is how flat it is. With the occasional bump that will last for a few seconds at most, the paths are entirely flat, making for an easy run. There are also a series of bridges along the route that act as turnaround points. So if you don’t want to do a boring out-and-back route, you can cross any of these bridges for a change of scenery on the other side. The route, lined with trees through a number of city parks, provides a good source of shade in the summer depending on the time of day you run.
There are also water fountains along the way to stay hydrated on those hot Oregon summer days. During the winter months when the water fountains are shut off, there are still several public restrooms along the way with sinks. The water in Eugene is very clean, so this is a good option to stay hydrated during the winter.
2. Pre’s Trail
While competing overseas in Europe, legendary Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine was impressed with the European cross country courses. When he returned, Prefontaine suggested to local officials that a running trail should be built in Alton Baker Park. Lane County worked with Bill Bowerman, the track coach at the University of Oregon, to build the trail. After Prefontaine’s death in 1975, the trail was used as a venue to host a memorial cross country race in his honor.
To this day, the trail is used widely on a daily basis by everyone from your casual walker, to runners training for the Olympics. The trail is well maintained, especially during the warmer months. It is the first running route I was introduced to in Eugene, and continues to be a personal favorite.
Ask any runner if they want to run in Hendricks Park, and they might have to think twice before answering. This is a more challenging route with a good number of hills. However, it is also one of the more scenic running routes in all of Eugene, and the hills make it worth the challenge. It is entirely in the shade during the summer months, proving to be a great way to beat the heat.
The trail is narrow and provides for an exciting run with twists, turns, climbs, and drops. It’s like a ride at a theme park. The trail isn’t as well maintained as Pre’s Trail, but is still a very safe route that anyone could run, especially if you are feeling up for a challenge. I always feel most satisfied with my runs after tackling the hills of Hendricks Park.