A greenway teems with wildlife and recreation

Bonnie Henderson

Bald eagles, belted kingfishers, dragonflies, and camas flowersmight keep you company on a walk through the wetlands west ofEugene. A recently expanded trail is luring cyclists, walkers, andrunners out to Amazon Creek, which, for most of the last century,was wild in name only. In times past, soon after the creek tumbledout of the city's south hills it was captured and channeled for thepassage through town. Reaching west Eugene, the water was furthertamed by farmers' levees, turning a wet prairie into arable land.Now the West Eugene Wetlands are being transformed back into ahaven for wildlife and people looking for a close-to-town place toplay.

The paved, 7.5-mile (one-way) Fern Ridge Path starts near thecounty fairgrounds at 15th Avenue and Jefferson Street. It followsAmazon Creek to Royal Avenue, then jogs south a half-mile alongGreenhill Road to end at the new Meadowlark Prairie Overlook, agood destination or starting point with its shaded picnic tablesand restrooms. Checkermallow Access, on Royal a half-mile east ofGreenhill, is another good launch point. A shorter network of pavedpaths and soft, bark-chip hiking trails follow the creek's upperend in south Eugene, and they're about to get extended too. The1-mile Headwaters Trail scheduled for construction should connectwith the city's Ridgeline Trail by fall.

INFO: Call the Bureau of Land Management in Eugene forwetlands trail maps (free; 541/683-6600).

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