Photo by Donna Compton

Photo by Donna Compton

If you’re like me, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that finding time for a fun outdoor adventure on a weeknight just seems impossible. But at the challenge of my ever-adventurous mother, my theory was put to test. She told me to be in my hiking gear and on my porch by 5:15 p.m., and she’d be there to whisk me off to Spencer’s Butte for an evening hike.

Fortunately for us, living in the Willamette Valley (namely Eugene), means a beautiful hike in the woods is just a hop and a skip away. Up, up, up the road roared my mom’s Trailblazer as we traveled a mere 10 minutes from where I live (in the middle of town!) to the Spencer Butte Trailhead. It was an excellent fall evening, clear and beautiful, a fact reflected in the full parking lot.

Photo by Donna Compton

Photo by Donna Compton

We crunched our way through the leaves on the trail, only broke a tiny sweat, and were at the top about 30-40 minutes later, just in time for the sunset. We found an area for prime viewing and settled in to watch the show. This, only after my mom insisted on taking half-a-dozen pictures to send my husband who is currently stationed in Iraq. We also took dozens of pictures of the setting sun, trying futilely to capture the majesty of the scene in digital form. From more than 2050 feet up, the views of Eugene are quite spectacular, landmarks like Autzen Stadium (Go Ducks!) are highly visible.

Just before the last drop of the sun disappeared out of sight, we headed back down the mountain, so as not to be caught flashlight-less on a dark trail. Back into the Trailblazer we went, and back into the middle of the work week we drove.

Photo by Andrea Hartman

Photo by Andrea Hartman

If you go: Remember the sun sets before 5 p.m. now, so be sure to head out early, and be smarter than us, pack a flashlight! Also, don’t leave any valuables in your car. To get to the Spencer Butte Trailhead, drive south on Willamette Street from downtown Eugene. Stay on the road through town, until you get to the outskirts, keep driving, and you will see the trailhead on your left.

Interested in fall foliage? Check out Andrea’s previous blog, on scenic drives throughout the Willamette Valley.

For more information on hiking in the Willamette Valley, please visit our Outdoor Recreation section.

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