Trail Review: Spencer Butte
Welcome to a new and (hopefully) recurring series on BookMarks that is exactly what it says on the tin – a review of popular (and easy, due to my amateur status) trails in the Willamette Foothills. Will it be helpful? Hopefully. Fun? Also hopefully. A laugh riot for people who regularly go on trails? Almost certainly.
Spencer Butte in Eugene is a rather large mountain with a rather magnificent view. It’s known for its amazing views, its wildlife, and its poison oak. Although it’s the big brother of the ever-popular Skinner Butte, also in Eugene, its climb is still quite easy. And that’s what we were counting on when my uncle, my brother, my mom and I went to the mountain. I’m fairly familiar with the trail, since one of my friends always used to include the climb as part of her birthday party. I was fairly certain that we could all handle the trail. And we were able to handle it. But some poorly-marked trails – and a daredevil uncle – made it a bit harder than we’d expected.
At the beginning of the trail, there was a little marker that denoted the trails. It told you that you could go up the easy trail – which was rather long – or the steep, tricky trail, which was shorter. My uncle wanted to go up the shorter one, so we went up, dragging my little brother behind us. It was quite a bit harder than the easy trail that I remembered, with large rocks and very steep slopes. There was a rewarding view at the top, but it was still quite tricky.
We knew that we couldn’t go back down the same trail that we went up, since steepness is a lot worse going down than up. We needed to find the easier trail down, but strangely it was unmarked, as was the steep trail. We (well, my talkative uncle) had to ask someone where the easy trail was. Fortunately, we eventually found it. The very end of the easy trail (the beginning, going down) was almost as hard as the steep trail, but it got better as we went down, and it later turned into a quite beautiful, fun, easy trail. We did get lost once, owing to a strange little red herring of a trail that seemed to lead somewhere but didn’t go anywhere except the woods. Due to this, my little brother and my uncle beat us to the bottom of the hill, which was a bit embarrassing. But it was worth it for the time we spent while lost, chatting and enjoying nature.
Overall, Spencer Butte is a fun, easy climb, good for amateurs who want a little exercise and a little chance to chat. Well, as long as you take the right path. And it might be good to have a GPS handy.