Healthy Trails to You!

Photo: Ame Manon

For many of us, trails and access to the outdoors are more important than ever. The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced a current of stress and anxiety into daily life and we turn to nature for relief and joy.

We recognize our privilege to be able to turn to trails, parks, and outdoor spaces without worry for our safety, and without wondering whether we will be welcomed or threatened.

We are committed to listening with humility to the voices of people who do not have that privilege, to making our trails and natural areas welcoming and safe for everyone, and to reflecting and acting on how we can provide equitable access to nature for all.

Give Back to Trails

We are celebrating healthy trails and access to the outdoors this month, and we are asking you to give back to the trails you love by making a donation to the Greenbelt Trails Fund.

We use the Trails Fund to build, maintain, and improve trails, and get you and your family out into nature. All donations to the Trails Fund in June will be matched, up to $2500.

Community members have been sharing their love of the trails around Bald Hill in the last few months, and we asked some to share their photos and write a little about what the trails mean to them. Their kindly responses follow.

Photo: Kristen Lipscomb

Kristen Lipscomb

“As a family, we use the path through Bald Hill nearly daily. We live close by, so it’s a great easy place to run without worrying about vehicle traffic. Since stay-at-home started we have been getting out more with the kids in the stroller, and Bald Hill is often where we end up.

We love the view from the top!

We get outside to keep our bodies moving, to explore and learn about the world around us. Getting out in nature improves our moods and reduces stress.  One of my favorite things is running at sunrise. The paths and trails of Bald Hill are a great place to watch the sun come up over the mountains of Central Oregon.”

Photo: Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson

“I use the trails for walking and hiking at Bald Hill. I like the diversity of the trails as they offer all kinds of experiences.  You can keep it light and easy or take the trail all the way to Cardwell Hill.  It really is an amazing trail system that wanders through the woods, the fields, and the windswept hills. I go all over the place, but really enjoy going to Fitton Green via Mulkey Ridge.

I’m using the trails more since stay-at-home started. So nice to get a walk in before work, to clear the head and let the fresh air and bird chirps give you positive energy to start the day.

It is absolutely paramount for me to get out into Nature to benefit my mental health. I think doctors really should have people spend time in Nature for some of what ails them. It does wonders for me and I pretty much need to do it every day, especially now, as I am a retail manager at First Alternative Co-op. For a while there it was extremely stressful and a week would pass but it felt like a month. I had to get out to our local trails often to escape for a moment and let Nature work her magic.”

Leena Hussain

“I have been living in Corvallis for 2 years now and I love the natural areas, parks and trails here, they are absolutely beautiful.

Bald Hill Natural Area and Fitton Green are my favorite, visiting these places has always made me feel absolutely refreshed and alive, and it totally helps with my mental health and healing. It’s hard to put into words how I feel about this place but Corvallis has my heart.”

Photo: Leena Hussain

Photo: Michele Tipsword-Injety

Michelle Tipsword-Injety

“I am a mountain biker and trail runner.  I primarily trail run at Bald Hill and my favorite route is the Run for the Hills route, hands down! My two favorite segments of this route are running through the meadow, which is just off the paved road and then seeing the view at the top.

I was furloughed for a little over a month in April, due to Covid-19.  Having Bald Hill open and available during this time helped keep my mental frame-of-mind healthy and happy.  I have been a mountain biker and trail runner for over 15 years.  There is absolutely nothing like being in the forest…all stress and worry melt away and it’s just me and Mother Nature sharing a moment together.

In August 2019 I was training for a trail half-marathon.  I was in the midst of a speed workout at the track when I had a traumatic injury, a full-thickness tear of my left common hamstring tendon. Once out of surgery I faced a very long and difficult recovery.

Photo: Michelle Tipsword-Injety

I am now a little over 7 months post-op and I am ahead of schedule with regard to my running, riding and lifting.  I attribute my incredible recovery to a couple of things, including being able to access the amazing trails at Bald Hill! Having access to the forest filled my entire body with happiness and purpose.  The trails at Bald Hill mean everything to me because they helped me get my life back.”

 

Photo: Jonny Armstrong

Jonny Armstrong

“We do all sorts of stuff at Bald Hill. Many adventures start at the Oak Creek parking lot, where we head south on the paved trail and hope to see a newt in one of the adjacent wetlands or spot some deer in the fields farther off. Originally it was walking with an infant strapped to your chest, and now it’s a lot of chasing kids and saying hi to dogs.

Since our kids have been out of childcare because of the pandemic, we’ve relied on the trails to keep them entertained and to manage the stress of these crazy times. My kids absolutely love the Mulkey Ridge hike and we do it four days a week sometimes. There are all sorts of great obstacles along the trail that they call their ‘play spots’. They’re especially fond of a fallen oak tree that has springy limbs.

Having these opportunities to get out in nature is so important for my family. Seeing my kids barrel down the Mulkey Ridge trail brings me a lot of joy, and carrying them up the hills is a great way to blow off stress and get exercise. I know it’s especially important for my kids. They sleep better and are generally much happier on days when they ran wild, even if they do take a few face plants every trip.”

 

 

Photo: Robert Swan

Robert Swan

“As a lifelong trail runner with three cattle dogs, getting out on the trails is an essential daily part of a healthy life.  During the Covid-19 pandemic, Bald Hill was the only place I could run since the area forests were closed.  Being able to access these trails was so important to my health and well-being, as well as to my dogs, that I can’t overstate it.  There were just no other options for someone like me and I am thankful that these remarkably beautiful trails remained open.

My favorite trail run is from the Oak Creek Parking area at Bald Hill to Mulkey, and the Mulkey connector out to Fitton Green.  From there I am able to access Crestmont  Land Trust trails and continue all the way to Wren.  It is a fantastic trail system and an amazingly collaborative effort by multiple government and non-profit organizations!  Some of the most beautiful trail running I do is within this trail complex!

There are so many cool things on these trails, from oak trees that are hundreds of years old to the huge flocks of wild turkeys.  The coolest thing I ever saw out there was a cougar hunting turkeys on the Mulkey connector.  Wow, what an experience that was!!”

What’s Your Trails Story?

We’d love to hear what the trails around Bald Hill mean to you! Share your stories and photos with us on social media, tag us, or send us an email. Let people know you love local trails!

Run for the Trails!

Run for the Hills was canceled this year, but our friends at Heart of the Valley Runners and our generous run sponsors are teaming up to offer a Virtual Run for the Hills for 2020!

Walk, run, or roll on your own schedule in the month of June and support local trails! Report your results, make a $20 or more donation to the Greenbelt Trails Fund, and you can get a race shirt. All donations to the Trails Fund in June will be matched, up to $2500 by our Run for the Hills sponsors.

 

Virtual Run for the Hills

Our friends at Heart of the Valley Runners are launching a virtual Run for the Hills through the month of June, and many of our generous event sponsors are stepping up to match donations (up to $2500) to Greenbelt’s Trails Fund.

  • Pick a route
  • Report your results
  • Make a donation to Greenbelt’s Trails Fund

All Virtual Race Information Here

 

 

Please consider giving back to the trails that have given us so much.  Whether you complete a race route or not, your donation to the Trails Fund during the month of June can be matched.

 

Run, hike, walk your dog, bike, or just get out into nature and support local trails! Access to nature has been a source of joy and mental health during this time of social distancing, and together we can make sure these special places are protected and accessible to all!

 

 

Run for the Hills

 

 

 

 

Registration is now live for the 13th annual Run for the Hills. Sign up HERE and be part of the run on Sunday, June 9th!

This popular benefit run features 30K and 8K trail runs, a 2-mile run/walk, and a 1/4-mile kids fun run. There is something for the whole family!

All proceeds benefit Greenbelt Land Trust’s Trails Fund to help maintain, enhance, and link your area public trails. This year we are delighted to have this event sponsored by our awesome friends at Heart of the Valley Runners. Thank you HOTV!

REGISTRATION

Register via UltraSignup HERE!

THE COURSES

The fun courses take you from the Benton County Fairgrounds through scenic and iconic places from the Bald Hill Natural Area to Fitton Green- all with amazing views!

THE AFTER PARTY 

Join all runners, families, volunteers, and supporters at the finish area for awards, music, and lots of complimentary goodies and refreshments.

RACE DIRECTORS

Marc Weber and Drew Ibarra

“Like” Run for the Hills on Facebook!

Run for Hills and Birds!

For most races I show up solely as a runner, but during the Run for the Hills race, I showed up as both a runner and a naturalist. The racecourse is the most scenic, habitat-dense I’ve ever run. I didn’t win this race (not even close), but I observed 49 species of birds and 19 species of native wildflowers.

The 30 km route (18.65 mi.) passes through several landscapes; riparian forest, oak savannas, cow pastures, forest meadows, conifer forests, upland prairie, oak woodland, maple/oak forest and all the transition zones in between. It was a grand natural adventure.

That being said, I would never recommend running as the best way to encounter birds and wildlife. The sudden movements of a runner frightens most birds and mammals. As expected, I didn’t encounter any mammals (except cows) and most birds I got close to were quickly flying away from me. Also, I didn’t have time to stop and search for flowers or bugs.

Binoculars and running aren’t a good mix. It helps that I have a lot of experience with local bird sounds because the majority of the birds were identified by ear. I only noticed the wildflowers that were next to the trail, but I covered so much ground that a high number of encounters were inevitable.

Here are some highlights. Soon after the start, one of the few birds I was lucky enough to see up close was a Lazuli Bunting. He was next to the Midge Cramer path on a fence, singing and showing his bright blue back. Bright orange Columbia Lilies were dangling over some of the forested trails. At Fitton Green, there were a couple Blue-eyed Marys still in bloom. There was Hermit Thrush calling just west of Fitton Green.

The weather was cool and rainy at times and that’s probably why I didn’t notice any butterflies or dragonflies. That also meant it was comfortable conditions for running.

My adventure sorta started the night before. I booked a tent space at the Benton Oaks RV Park, next to Benton County Fairgrounds, so I could wake up at a comfortable time before the race and basically be there and ready to go. I don’t own a car, and buses don’t run on Sunday, and I wanted to avoid the extra physical effort of riding my bike across Corvallis the morning before a race.

I went to sleep among the Oregon White Oaks, just after the Acorn Woodpeckers stopped calling. That night, I heard the call of a Barn Owl (not included in race-day observations below). In the morning, I awoke to the sound of a Western Wood-Pewee’s dawn song, Eurasian Collared-Doves, and of course, there were the vociferous antics of the Acorn Woodpeckers.

I often feel nervous before races because I dwell on my upcoming athletic performance. But not for this race. I decided, while training for this race, that I would focus on being in good enough shape to finish without much distress. Minutes before the race start, I was anticipating all the birds, flowers, and beautiful landscapes I would encounter. This mindset kept my attention away from my exhaustion in the latter parts of the race.

 

Naturalist, Don Boucher, runs the 30K race for Run for the Hills and notes the birds and wildflowers along the way- with just his eyes and ears!

Counting birds and flower species while running takes a special strategy since I can’t carry a notepad and pencil or stop to take pictures. During training runs, I experimented with recording voice memos on my phone but it was just too cumbersome. I instead practiced keeping a mental note of what I encountered. It also helps that I’m familiar enough with Willamette Valley and Coast Range ecology that I know what to expect. To some degree, I noticed what I didn’t encounter as much as what I did. Soon after the race, with everything fresh in my memory, I flipped through my field guides to help me remember, and made a list. No doubt, this system is less than perfect and I probably forgot some.

Some species I expected but didn’t get were Red-shouldered Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker, White-breasted Nuthatch, MacGillivray’s Warbler and Oregon Vesper Sparrow. While running on the Mulkey Ridge trail, I heard what sounded like Northern Pygmy-Owl nestlings or fledglings. Without binoculars and time to track them down, I couldn’t confirm it because they sound a lot like a junco’s song. I had spotted these owls in this area last year, so it was likely, but I just can’t rule out something much more common like a junco.

This was the first time I participated in this race. I don’t run many races because I’m just not that competitive, and I also prefer to spend more time birding or leading nature field trips. Another incentive for me is that the proceeds from this race help to support trail work for Greenbelt Land Trust.

Maybe I’ll do it again next year but I’m not looking to out-do my species list because, as I mentioned before, running isn’t the best way to survey. I think I have a better chance of improving my time. In the meantime, I certainly plan to hike portions of the racecourse, and I’ll bring along my binoculars, notepad, and camera.

 

Birds Counted By Don:

While camping: White-breasted Nuthatch and Barn Owl

49 species during run:

Wild Turkey

Turkey Vulture

Red-tailed Hawk

American Kestrel

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Rufous Hummingbird

Acorn Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Western Wood-Pewee

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Hutton’s Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Steller’s Jay

California Scrub-Jay

American Crow

Common Raven

Violet-green Swallow

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Bushtit

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

Bewick’s Wren

House Wren

Pacific Wren

Western Bluebird

Swainson’s Thrush

Hermit Thrush

American Robin

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Orange-crowned Warbler

Common Yellow throat

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Hermit Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

Spotted Towhee

Chipping Sparrow

Song Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Western Tanager

Black-headed Grosbeak

Lazuli Bunting

Brown-headed Cowbird

Purple Finch

American Goldfinch

Evening Grosbeak

 

Native Wildflowers Counted By Don:

Elegant Brodiaea – Brodiaea elegans

Fork-toothed Ookow (Cluster Lily) – Dichelostemma congestum

Hyacinth Triteleia (Hyacinth Brodiaea) – Triteleia hyacinthina

Tough-leaved Iris – Iris tenax

Columbia Lily – Lilium columbianum

Celery-leaved Lovage – Ligusticum apiifolium

Yarrow – Achillea millefolium

Oregon Sunshine – Eriophyllum lanatum

Slender Tarweed – Madia gracilis

Northern Microseris – Microseris borealis (North of the covered bench)

Narrow-leaved Mule’s Ears – Wyethia angustifolia

Orange Honeysuckle – Lonicera ciliosa

Marah Vine (Wild Cucumber) – Marah oregana

Riverbank Lupine – Lupinus rivularis

Oceanspray – Holodiscus discolor

Self-heal – Prunella vulgaris

Candyflower – Claytonia sibirica

California Poppy – Eschscholzia californica

Large-flowered Blue-eyed Mary – Collinsia grandiflora (Fitton Green)

 

-Blog Post by GLT Volunteer Naturalist, Don Boucher

Run for the Hills

Registration is now live for the 12th annual Run for the Hills. Sign up HERE and be part of the run on Sunday, June 10th!

This popular benefit run features 30K and 8K trail runs, a 2-mile run/walk, and a 1/4-mile kids fun run. There is something for the whole family!

All proceeds benefit Greenbelt Land Trust’s Trails Fund to help maintain, enhance, and link your area public trails. This year we are delighted to have this event sponsored by our awesome friends at Heart of the Valley Runners. Thank you HOTV!

REGISTRATION

Register via UltraSignup HERE!

THE COURSES

The fun courses take you from the Benton County Fairgrounds through scenic and iconic places from the Bald Hill Natural Area to Fitton Green- all with amazing views!

THE AFTER PARTY 

Join all runners, families, volunteers, and supporters at the finish area for awards, music, and lots of complimentary goodies and refreshments.

RACE DIRECTORS

Marc Weber and Drew Ibarra

“Like” Run for the Hills on Facebook!