Where to find the best scenic views in Eugene and Springfield

A view of Eugene from a drone at Skinner’s Butte (Kenny Jacoby/Emerald)

At this time of year many college students are haunting libraries with their noses in books, studying for midterms and stressing over papers. While the academics are important, it can also be refreshing to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Here is a quick guide to the best views in Eugene and Springfield, the perfect places to relax and get a fresh perspective on the cities. 

Kelly Butte

Kelly Butte is located in west Springfield on Summit Boulevard in a very nice suburban neighborhood. The whole drive, or walk, up this hill offers beautiful sights of Eugene and campus. The lookout provides a sweeping view across Springfield all the way out into Thurston. It’s perfect for a crisp, clear, blue sky day. The Springfield location makes this one of the least frequented lookouts in the area, ideal for when you want to get away from everyone and relax on top of the world.  

Hendricks Park and “Spliff Cliff”

A drive up Summit Avenue in Eugene will take you to Hendricks Park, a lovely area filled with many walking trails. The park sits atop a large hill and offers various views of the city. It’s a great place to roam or picnic when you have a free day and nice weather. On the way out of the park you can follow Birch Street to “Spliff Cliff,” an unofficially titled stretch of road with outstanding views of Eugene including Autzen Stadium and Prefontaine’s Trail. A trip to Spliff Cliff could be a great end to a date at Hendricks park, or just a good spot for drive-by scenery. 

Mount Pisgah

Mount Pisgah is an arboretum and botanical garden. There are several routes to reach the top, and all require hiking. The most common trail is a long hike with steep segments, nothing that requires intensive skills, but it’s still not for the faint of heart. This leads up to a perfect patchwork-quilt view of farmland across the area. If you’re a big fan of hikes and flora, this makes a great sunny weekend trip.

Skinner’s Butte

The most impressive view in Eugene available without a hike, Skinner’s Butte is also the busiest. The parking lot is usually occupied with cars, sometimes even filled. The Butte closes between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., so plan accordingly. Skinner’s offers a look at downtown Eugene and views that extend far into the city. This is the perfect dusk destination; you can still see the town clearly but the lights take on an inspiring, big-city effect.

Spencer Butte

Spencer Butte, another hike, has a few possible routes to the top but two remain the most popular. One is up the backside of the mountain which is shorter but much steeper than the other. If you’re on a time crunch and don’t mind the extra work, this might be the best option for you. The second trail requires a longer hike up, roughly 40 minutes, but it’s not as steep. This trail — and Spencer in general — is highly populated. If you’re looking for solitude this might not be the best choice.

It’s perfect for a beginner-level hiker or someone looking for a less challenging hike in general. About three-fourths of the way up, the trail disappears and rock takes its place. Until last year, hikers had no choice but to climb this rocky summit; however, stairs were recently added to decrease environmental impact. At the top, this mountain offers a 360-degree lookout across Eugene, Springfield, and surrounding areas. It’s a fantastic place to watch the sunset or sunrise, and soak in fresh mountain air with friends.

Please consider donating to the Emerald. We are an independent non-profit dedicated to supporting and educating this generation's best journalists. Your donation helps pay equipment costs, travel, payroll, and more!