TRAILBEAR GOES UP THE RIVER: North Bank & East Bank Paths -from mall to boat ramp.
10.2.2010, Euguene, OR
The Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path System in Eugene is such a fine ride that the TrailBear is back for more. It’s October and the rains which had the river in flood in June are gone. Pausing on his fall migration to warmer climates, TrailBear is back to ride the North Bank and East Bank Paths, which, when combined, run down the right side of the river. You can see the trail on Google Maps in map mode.
Of course, with his usual precise timing, TB picked the very day of the University of Oregon homecoming to go for a ride. (“Go ducks! The quack is back! ” The Ducks did well, stomping on Stanford.) The area was full of duck fans bound for the stadium.
This side of the river is a five star ride: good pavement, good facilities, lots of interesting scenery. The East Bank Path runs 2.8 miles from the Beltline down to the Greenway Bridge and the North Bank Path runs 5 miles from Greenway down to the boat ramp in Island Park in Springfield. This side is the longest ride and pure Class I trail. South Bank Path has some on-street bits.
If you can only ride one side, this is the side. Of course, that would be a shame. The total trail length (all four paths) is 13.9 miles, hardly a warm up for a roadie. With five bridges you can change sides at each bridge coming and going, which would be an interesting ride. Here is the best of the two trail maps:
If you want to get as much riding in as possible, start the ride way up at the intersection of N. Delta Highway and an offramp of the Randy Pape Beltline (569) in north Eugene. Across the street is a mall with Café Yumm, Starbucks, Gold’s Gym, parking, etc. Let’s head up there, find a parking spot and cross at the intersection to the trail at …
NORTH DELTA HIGHWAY X 569, GE: N44.09442 W123.09807
The trail starts here at the onramp from North Delta Highway to the Beltline freeway. Don’t look for the usual RBRPS signage as you are a bit out of bounds. Some of their maps show this extension, some don’t. Your bike won’t care. Ride alongside the onramp to river. Here you duck under the freeway and head upstream (southish). You are now on Goodpasture Island and will leave it down at Delta Ponds.
Be advised that when the river is flooding, the trail flood gates will be closed just beyond the bridge. In this case you divert into the ‘hood – and a very nice ‘hood it is. Ride along Riverplace Drive to the end and then left a block onto Goodpasture Lake Loop. There will be a trail opening to the right ahead. Take it. If you cross Riverwalk Loop, turn back and find it. This will take you back to the trail below the upper flood gate. In just 0.11 miles you reach the first of the trail bridges …
THE OWASSO BRIDGE, GE: N44.09163 W123.11578
Here you pick up the superb RBRPS signage: mile posts on the .25 mile, color-coded trail signs, distances up and down trail to the next three destinations, milage appliqués on the trail bed and each mile post sponsored. TB keeps looking for a trail that does this better. So far (CA, OR, WA, ID, UT, NV), none found.
Across the bridge is the start of the West Bank Path. You can ride the South and West paths on your return to the bridge and thence to your car up on the Delta Highway. Head upstream. Next attraction is the Marist High School, then some apartments, fields and then the…
DELTA PONDS CITY PARK, GE: N44.07475 W123.11348
A former sand and gravel operation, the Delta Ponds are now a wetland city park. You wend along the waterways to the far side. There will probably be geese and ducks all over the place. Watch where you ride. Goose poop, moss and rain make a very slick surface. (Not to ask TB how he knows this.) One parking lot after leaving the Delta Ponds, you arrive at the …
GREENWAY BRIDGE & VALLEY RIVER CENTER, GE: N44.06805 W123.11099
The Greenway Bridge marks the end of the West and East Bank Paths and the start of the South and North Bank Paths. You shift from East to North. Notice the color changes on the mile posts. You are also at the rear of the Valley River Center, a large mall which makes a nice trailhead with plenty of trailside parking. The food court inside the mall has something for everyone. Adjacent to the food court is a U O duckobelia shop. You can buy most anything in Duck colors, Duck themed, Duck stenciled, etc. (The TrailBear passed. He is a UW grad and Cougar (WSU) fan – he likes cats.)
From the top of the mall you have a 1.65 mile stretch, some of it along the freeway, down to the …
DEFAZIO BRIDGE, GE: N44.05721 W123.08283
The DeFazio Bridge, in Alton Baker Park is the third bridge on the ride. Two more to go. Alton Baker Park makes a good trailhead. Plenty of parking, even during Homecoming (they had guards to make it so). Picnic shelters, ponds, lawns. Alas, the nearest loo rated only a lowly ** (D) on TB’s Irvine Flushie Scale. One look and he opted for continence. Too many bums about. The mall is a better option.
Head down through the park to the next bridge…
THE AUTZEN BRIDGE, GE: N44.05233 W123.07096
This bridge, which runs over a patch of rocky shoals anchored by an island, is the connection between the Ducks at the U of O on the south bank and the Autzen Stadium on the north bank. On game day it fills with Ducks heading for the stadium.
The trail runs through a patch of rough woods, then breaks out into the meadows of the Whilamut Natural Area and heads for the Interstate 5 bridge under construction and the last bike bridge…
THE KNICKERBOCKER BRIDGE, GE: N44.04539 W123.05400
This bridge takes you to the bottom of the South Bank Path. You might want to return that way. To go onward (until 2012) on the North Bank Park, you need to back up to the detour sign and photo map and take a left. You take Pre’s Trail north to the Canoe Canal, then right, under the freeway, to emerge in the Eastgate Woodlands and get back on the North Bank Path in Springfield. Clear as mud? Try this:
There is a small parking and info kiosk trailhead at 44.047718 x -123.043509 in the Eastgate Woodlands vicinity Mile Post 4.0. The trail runs along the river through the West D St. Greenway, then jogs out to W. D St. (not very busy), runs along it for 0.2 miles, then ducks back into …
ISLAND PARK, GE: N44.04822 W123.02756
Island Park has restrooms (***), picnic shelters, parking, water and a boat ramp. This would make a nice trailhead if you wish to ride from south to north on this side of the river. Work your way through the park and under the Main St. and S. A St. bridges to the boat launch on the far side in Millrace Park. This is the end of the line.
Someday they hope to extend the trail on the opposite shore across Glenwood (industrial, not inviting) and link up the ends. For now, you are at the end of the North Bank Path. However, all is not lost. Take note of the embellishment of the two bridge pillars into trees with faces. For now, go back to the Knickerbocker Bridge and ride the South and West Bank Paths back to your starting point.
A river runs past him.