We travel to Eugene as a family every few months—my parents live there, so we drive the two hours from Portland often to visit the grandparents. When we brainstorm family friendly activities in Eugene, Oregon, we always come back to hiking Dorris Ranch, a great hike for kids and families.
Dorris Ranch is a 250-acre park in Eugene, Oregon, that is an operating hazelnut orchard. You can stick to the path, wander among the rows of hazelnut trees, eat a picnic along the Willamette River or hop on the multi-use Middle Fork Path, which runs to Clearwater Park and connects to the 8-mile-loop Mill Race Path.
The scenery is gorgeous any time of year, and this Eugene kid-friendly hike is easy for babies in strollers, toddlers and big kids ready to race ahead.
A blog I follow, Mama Said, just posted a poem that shot me back in time.
This summer I went to the orchard with my mom and Peeper. I was almost 8 months pregnant, and the baby girl growing inside me kicked and stretched, making me wince—and smile.
We had come for the cherries (and the farm animals, which Peeper simultaneously loved and feared), but it turned out that peaches were in season, too. We made a short detour on the dusty road, pulled over and found ourselves under a canopy of trees buzzing with sweetness and potential.
I didn’t have a bucket or a spare bag, so I balanced the peaches I picked on my belly. And I couldn’t resist—I bit into one (or, ah, several). I ate them surrounded by branches heavy with fruit, and the juice dripped down my chin and stained the shirt stretched taught over my big belly.
They tasted full—alive, vibrant, practically bursting with flavor.
Peeper was less interested in fruit picking than she was in feeding the goats, so we left not long after that. I drove us home, my sticky hands leaving smudges on the steering wheel, as Kiwi squirmed inside me and Peeper sang “Old MacDonald” in the back seat.
My life felt like those peaches—full and vibrant in the sweetest way.
In case you haven’t looked out your window recently, know this: It’s fall! The best time of year! The season that smells like crisp leaves and votive candles burning inside pumpkins! The months when you get to snuggle in sweaters and flannel and cozy PJs! The time you dress up and eat candy or stay smugly inside and laugh at the fools who spend all that time and energy just to be uncomfortable in their costumes!
There aren’t enough exclamation points!
To take advantage of glorious autumn, we took a trip to the orchard and picked a bucket-full-o’ pears. Red and green Bartletts were in season, and they were easy to pick from the low branches at Sherwood Orchards. Eric was good enough to be primary Peeper wrangler while I focused on picking pears. Because we needed a lot of pears—pears for this almost-too-easy-to-be-true spiced pear sauce.