The running/walking trails of Eugene are world class. I was quickly introduced to the local trails shortly after moving to Eugene 8 years ago. I moved to town with an avid runner who quickly showed me around the various trail systems across town: the Ridgeline system in the south hills, the Adidas Rexius trail system in the flatter part of South Eugene, the Hendricks Park trails, and Pre's Trail in Alton Baker Park being the trails that stuck out to me the most within the city limits. I was not an avid runner when I moved to Eugene, but I can honestly say that Pre's Trail turned me onto running.
Pre's Trail is a wood chip running and walking trail through Alton Baker Park along the north side of the Willamette River. It is a world class running destination. Any day, you can spot elite, professional runners doing their training run, UO college team runners on a shake out, high school champions, or even Olympians on the trail right alongside grandpa jogger and me, the casual walker/jogger/nature lover/tree hugger/trail enthusiast totally soaking it all in. I especially love wood chip paths such as Pre's Trail because they are much easier on joints than paved paths.
The trail is a 4.07 mile circuit with 3 connected mini loops. I love the 1/4 mile markers which I originally used as I built up from walking to jogging to running. When I first moved to Eugene, I would go on long, exploratory walks which led me to the river paths, the park, and to Pre's Trail. I became inspired by seeing the other runners and eventually decided to try to jog every other quarter mile. So I would walk a quarter mile then jog a quarter mile. This is how I built up my stamina. I tell you, if you think you can't run... consider this method and check out this trail! I eventually built up to being able to run the loop non-stop and then even tried to improve my time on the loop.
The trail winds through forests, riparian areas, grassy fields, hazelnut groves, and sunny stretches. There is plenty of opportunity to extend the route. To the east the trail heads off toward Springfield and to the west it connects with the paved river path system. I love the co-mingled usage of space in Alton Baker Park. There is plenty of room for cyclists (on the bike path), walkers, joggers, elite runners (on the Pre's Trail), and even disc golfers (on the new disc golf course).
Pre's trail is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city. A unique gem that should not be missed. It is there for you any day of the week. Check it out and explore what it has to offer. Maybe it will inspire you in a new direction.
Pre's Trail was inspired and designed by Steve Prefontaine, a running legend. It was completed after his tragic death in 1975 and is maintained by the Oregon Track Club.
I recommend walking or biking to Pre's Trail if possible. It is actually more convenient from many parts of Eugene to walk or bike along the river path to reach Pre's Trail. Generally walk or bike in the direction of Autzen Stadium to locate the path. If you must drive, there is parking off Club Road near the Ferry Street Bridge.