Spencer Butte Trail Project

family climbing Spencer Butte In the summer of 2015, Eugene’s much-loved Spencer Butte got a brand new trail to the top. The new trail features over 1,400 lineal feet of trail through the rocky outcrop. It was designed to blend into the natural aesthetic of the butte and functions to protect the natural values of this beautiful place. The new trail includes a stable trail bed that provides a clear route to the top. The trail bed is composed of gravel and rock with a few short sections of constructed rock stairs with a total of about 100 steps made from natural basalt. The trail maintains a relatively steep, challenging grade with a few widened areas that take advantage of spectacular views.

The project was in response to the trail rapidly deteriorating due to high use, and the rare ecosystem found there was being trampled away. Without a clear trail to the top, hikers were dispersing and impact to the existing rare and sensitive plant community was significant.

After an extensive public process with public meetings and community surveys seeking opinions on how best to address this issue, the overwhelming majority of participants agreed that reconstructing portions of the trail and building a new trail would address:
child on SB summit
  1. public safety - there were several serious injuries every year, many of which required Lane County Search and Rescue efforts
  2. damage to ecosystem - the lack of a formal trail had led to confusion and a network of trails that were impacting rare plant, lichen and moss species as well as the rare sensitive plant community as a whole
  3. accessibility - the new trail is clearer and easier for people to use, increasing the range of hiker abilities who can access this special place

The project was funded, in part, by a Recreational Trails Program grant provided by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and supplemented with City matching funds. 

Spencer Butte Summit Trail Earns Project of Year Award
A project to build the Spencer Butte Summit Trail this summer has been selected to receive a 2015 Project of the Year award from the Oregon Chapter of the American Public Works Association. The project earned top honors in the category of structures under $5 million. Also recognized in the award are Oregon Woods, Inc., as the primary contractor; Larry Wilson as the prime consultant; and Northwest Trails, Inc., as the technical consultant.

Spencer Butte trail project teamIn making the award decision, a seven-member judging panel considered a variety of criteria, including community need, project safety, sustainable practices, environmental considerations and community relations. In the section for unusual accomplishments and special considerations, the application noted that the use of helicopters was critical to the success of the project. “As protection of the below-treeline trail was identified as a project goal, and the pure logistics of moving the necessary construction equipment and tons of rock needed to the summit of the butte, use of helicopters was necessary every one to two weeks during the four-month project,” the application said.

The award will be presented to construction project manager Adam Steffen along with contractor and consultant representatives at the Oregon APWA fall conference in Canyonville on Oct. 21. Among others, key project staff included Philip Richardson (Landscape Architect with Parks Planning), former staff member Trevor Taylor (Natural Areas Restoration Supervisor), Ryan Turner (Technical Specialist with Natural Areas) and Jason Miller (Landscape Designer and project inspector with Engineering). For more information, contact project manager and landscape architect Adam Steffen, 541-682-5040

Rocky Outcrop Sign

For more information contact:
Public Works Parks and Open Space
Landscape Architect Philip Richardson