It’s your playground
Few places offer the rich variety of outdoor activities that Eugene does. Whether you’re a biker, a climber or even a kayaker, there’s something here for you. If you want to go play a round of Disc golf, there’s a place. Sand volleyball? There are courts all around the area. Same goes for soccer fields, outdoor basketball courts and tennis courts.
The point is, life at the University shouldn’t just be about Math 111 and Business 101. City of Eugene Athletics Manager Dave Battaglia says it should also be about exploring Eugene and the many things it has to offer.
“A lot of students go four years with no contact with the community,” Battaglia said. “A few are out there right away their freshman years, but there are a lot of things to do outside in Eugene and every student should take advantage of them.”
For more information on local outdoor activities, check out these Web sites:
|University of Oregon Outdoor Program:||outdoorprogram.uoregon.edu|
|City of Eugene Parks and Open Space:||eugene-or.gov. Under the City Quick Links drop-down bar, click Parks and Open Space.|
|City of Eugene Recreation Services:||eugene-or.gov. Under the City Quick Links drop-down bar, click Recreation Services.|
Battaglia is in charge of Eugene’s city leagues and athletics fields. He’s worked in the area for 18 years and says the multitude of things to do makes Eugene unique.
“There’s a bike path along the Willamette River, tons of parks, great climbing at the basalt columns at Skinner’s Butte park … It’s a big plus because the city is an hour away from the coast and an hour away from the mountains.”
One place Battaglia manages that is popular with students is the Westmoreland Disc Golf Course in South Eugene, located at 1545 W. 22nd St. – just 10 minutes from campus. It’s a nine-hole disc golf course maintained by the city, so it’s always in good shape. The 2,224-foot course offers a challenge to some but is just right for others.
But unlike other courses, Westmoreland is wide open with few bushes, so a new player won’t lose a new disc in the undergrowth.
“It’s a pretty easy course,” avid disc golf player and University student Josh Gregor said. “Two people can do it in about 30 minutes and you don’t have to worry about poison oak like you do at some courses in Portland.”
Gregor, who has lived in Eugene for three years, says another place every student should go when first arriving in the valley is Spencer’s Butte.
Located in the south hills of Eugene, Spencer’s Butte is the tallest point in Eugene at 2,062 feet, and the view from the top offers an amazing panorama of the city and surrounding areas. It can be an easy climb, too, depending on which route you take. Hikers have the choice of the easy, less steep 1.1-mile hike to the top, or the more challenging 0.6-mile hike that is very steep.
“You can easily see Autzen Stadium from the top,” Gregor said. “On sunny days the trails are packed. It’s a great adventure.”
But if you are looking for a little bit more of a substantial outdoor experience, the University of Oregon Outdoor Program is the final destination on what to do around the surrounding area. Located in the basement of the EMU, the Outdoor Program offers an easy way for students to get involved with planning trips to the coast, the Cascade Mountains, or anywhere else that is considered adventuresome.
Rithy Khut, the program’s office manager, says the program doesn’t plan the trips for different groups; that’s up to trip initiators, who can design their own.
“The Outdoor Program is a student group as well as a community cooperative,” Khut said. “All of the trips the program does is done in a cooperative manner. We don’t pay guides to lead trips. We don’t pay professionals to babysit people. All of our trips are initiated by volunteers. It gives us a lot of freedom to set trips pretty much whenever.”
So if it’s snowing at Hoodoo, you can bet there will be a trip going to the mountains. Khut says at least one trip a week departs during winter – and because the trips are all planned by either students or community members, it’s a lot cheaper than doing it through a travel agency.
Another great thing about the Outdoor Program is it offers gear rentals for students. Your snowboard doesn’t fit in your dorm room? Don’t worry, because you can rent one from “The Barn” on the corner of 18th Avenue and University Street, by McArthur Court. Same goes for camping equipment, kayaks and clothing needed for trips. And if you’re renting as part of an Outdoor Program trip, it’s half the price.
During the Week of Welcome this fall, the program will offer pre-planned trips for incoming students to get them involved without the stress of planning their own trip. There will be two or three overnight trips to Three Sisters near Bend, plus day trips to places like the coast and nearby lakes for some kayaking and hiking.
Besides helping facilitate trips, the Outdoor Program also offers whatever students need to fully utilize the outdoors here in Eugene. They have shelves full of guides and pamphlets to help people prepare for trips.
One such guide, entitled “Go Outside!” was put together by University students to help people find things to do outside in Eugene without the need of a car. Its 20-plus pages are full of suggestions, from observing the ducks in Alton Baker Park to watching the local Single-A Eugene Emeralds baseball team play.
“The great thing about Eugene is that you don’t need a car to get outdoors,” Khut said. “You can take a bus to pretty much wherever.”
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