We typically spend New Year’s Day on an outing somewhere, and typically we try to do something a little different than our “usual.” This year, we chose to explore Dorris Ranch in Springfield. Although I’ve lived in this area for 30 years now, and have heard many good things about Dorris Ranch, it is someplace that I just hadn’t gotten too. Today I am glad we did.
For those of you not familiar with Dorris Ranch, it is a “living history farm” and it is recognized at the first commercial filbert orchard in the United States. (Note, locals call them “filberts,” but most people use the term “hazelnut.”) Today the farm is a 250 acre park — part historic site, part natural area, an all-around excellent place to take a walk on a sunny but cold winter day, and still a productive orchard.
I love the shape of filbert trees and the angled rows of filbert orchards. And so, Dorris Ranch did not disappoint. However, Dorris Ranch is not just about walking around filbert orchards; There are also large swaths of “riparian forests.” These forests appear along a naturally occurring slough and are filled with scouring rush.
Parts of the walking trail also follow the Willamette River.
In all, there are miles of looping trails and the Willamalane Park and Recreation District is working to connect this network of trails to Clearwater Park following Quarry Creek and the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. This trail is expected to be complete in September 2013 (learn more here) and promises to make a great biking loop.
I was surprised by how easy Dorris Ranch is to reach. Only 20 miles from Cottage Grove, it is just a mile down South 2nd Street (approaching Springfield from Franklin Blvd, turn right after you go across the bridge). I was also surprised with how well the trails were marked, though taking a map with you might be insightful. And I was delighted to find most of the walking paths wide, firm, flat, and mud free.
Other things to know: there are restrooms on-site (okay, I didn’t peak in, they might be port-a-potties). Although there might be a lot of cars in the parking lot, the park is big enough that the people quickly dissipate into the many trails. Unfortunately, despite the many signs about having pets leashed, most people seem to treat Dorris Ranch like an off-leash dog park.