A Challenging Climb and Hiking Trail with Great Views
Outdoor enthusiasts in the Eugene Oregon area don’t have to go far to enjoy a challenging hike, since the impressive Spencer Butte is near to downtown and the University.
Spencer Butte is a 2,000-foot hill and park that is on Willamette Street, a few miles south of downtown Eugene, Oregon. The park is marked by a small log post on the east side of the road (left headed south from Downtown).
The paths up the Butte are steep and challenging, but the effort is rewarded with a full 360-degree spectacular view of the Oregon countryside.
Although the summit of the Butte is at 2,092 feet, the elevation at the park is around 1,300 feet, still leaving a rigorous 700-foot incline to be negotiated on foot.
Climbing Spencer Butte
Two marked trails leave from the park trailhead. The main trailheads to the right and is a fairly steep trail that covers the trip to the summit in about a mile and a half of walking and climbing.
To the left is an obviously much steeper trail that reaches the summit in six-tenths of a mile. This path is more difficult but attainable for the adventurous. Neither trail requires climbing equipment, although casual hikers will benefit from a hiking staff.
The trails are well marked for most of the distance, but near the top, hikers have to pick their way through large rocks and tree roots to reach the apex. The climb takes anywhere from 30 minutes to a leisurely hour.
The Reward at the Top of Spencer Butte
The top of Spencer Butte is open, as the summit is devoid of trees, either because of long-ago logging or the rocky ground.
This allows a clear view in all directions, with the cities of Eugene and Springfield to the north, the Cascade Mountains to the east, and Fern Lake and the Coastal Range to the west.
A flat rock has been set on top of the boulders at the highest point, a perfect place for pictures documenting the climb, or the requisite “top of the world, Ma” stance. There are no amenities or concessions at the top, just the view and the solitude.
Hazards on Spencer Butte
There are no benches or rest areas on the trail. It is easy enough to find a rock to rest on, but care is required, as poison oak is common on the Butte, and there are rattlesnakes in the brush. Rarely, mountain lions are seen in the area.
Hikers will need to provide their own water; there is none on the trail. At 2,000 feet, there is a subtle temperature difference, and so layering clothing is important on those in-between days. Cell phone reception is generally good on the Butte but is not a substitute for planning and safe hiking.
Rising to the Challenge
Oregon is well known for having many outstanding hiking and climbing areas. A trip hiking to Eugene is not complete without ascending to the top of the landmark with a view, Spencer Butte.