Lincoln City aims for health and happiness with Open Space program
By Gretchen Ammerman
As spring turns to summer, Lincoln City shifts into high gear as a bustling beach town. But even in the midst of the high season, there is no shortage of places where visitors and locals alike can feel like they are miles away from it all.
Lincoln City Parks and Recreation has been actively improving and maintaining its designated Parks and Open Spaces; underutilized jewels where visitors are surrounded by nature without leaving city limits.
“The Parks and Recreation Department has a vision for 2019 to get more people aware of and experiencing our Open Spaces,” said Director Jeanne Sprague. “We are adding trailhead signs and wayfinding markers as part of that goal.”
In addition to static improvements, the Department is hoping for more involvement from locals who share the goal of getting people out in nature.,
“We’re actively recruiting volunteers for things like guided hikes, trail maintenance, adopt a trail, adopt a park or various types of outdoor education.” said LoRee LaFon, Lincoln City Parks and Recreation Ambassador. “Since we started getting the word out we’ve had a good response, but we are certainly open for more.”
The primary requirement to get involved is the desire to do so.
“There’s a wide variety of skills and knowledge that people have that we welcome,” LaFon said. “If you have something you would love to share, we’d love to help you do it.”
Another way the Department is supporting the City’s Open Spaces is through the work of Joe Miller, Parks and Open Space Supervisor.
“Joe and his eight-person crew maintain our parks and trails, and work diligently to keep them safe, accessible and clear of any obstacles like downed trees from storms,” Sprague said. “All of our Parks and Recreation staff are so very passionate about our Open Spaces and getting people out into them. They inspire me.”
Though bikes and horses are not permitted in Open Spaces, dogs are encouraged and City ordinance dictates your furry companion is on leash at all times.
The City acquired this property in 2017 in the far north end of town, in part to protect the popular viewshed dubbed The Knoll. Now designated as an Open Space, the trails in the 35-acre Knoll property can be taken in small bites, or as a roughly three-mile loop that includes the Knoll lookout, offering views of Devils Lake, the Pacific Ocean and parts of the Cascade Head Nature Preserve.
If the view is your goal and you want to get there more quickly, the good news is that you can drive to the top of NE Sal De Sea Drive then take a right turn on Port Drive and park at the Dead End sign. The bad news is the less-than-half-mile trek is still a steep climb, and parking is very limited.
To reach the optimal (yet longer) trail system from the east side, turn west from Highway 101 onto East Devils Lake Road and follow the road until you reach a cul-de-sac: there is plenty of parking along the road on the way to the end as well.
Gentle for the legs and magical for the eyes, the 26-acre Cutler City Open Space is a wonderful place to visit, especially if the weather is dreary but you just really need to get outside. The trees are tall enough to block the wind but not so tall as to be scary, and they protect you from light rain, yet the trails stay moist enough that there are frequent mushroom sightings most of the year. Live-edge wooden trail-head signs like the one for “Frodo’s Trail,” help with the fairyland quality. The trails are mostly flat and very well-maintained, so those with less mobility will enjoy this lovely spot that’s a favorite with locals. There are four different points of entry: park in the small pull-outs on the north end on SW 63rd Street, the south end on SW 69th Street or along SW Inlet Avenue to access either of the two well-marked entrances.
One of the more newly built trail systems, the 56-acre Agnes Creek Open Space is well placed for recreational enjoyment for locals who work nearby at City Hall or the library, or visitors staying in places like Olivia Beach. Better for intermediate-level hikers or walkers as there are some steep sections, the trails wind through a forest that shows how good management helped the forest thrive after being clearcut in the 1960s. During trail construction two large parking areas were created, accessible along SW Bard Road. You can also enter from the end of SW 19th Street.
Friends of Wildwoods
Very close the Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital, the trails in this 41-acre space are mostly flat so can get muddy in the spring, but there’s a nice bridge crossing and many very large native trees like Sitka spruce that line most of the trail. Starting next to a paved parking area right on West Devils Lake Road, the trail is straight out and back, so no worries here about taking a wrong turn. This is one of the shorter trail systems, but you can get a bit more of a walk in by heading south on the road to the newly constructed boardwalk that goes over a section of wetlands.
This 73-acre forest is the best option if you are looking for something a bit longer. Though most of the trails are older and well established, Spyglass Ridge recently experienced a tree-thinning project for the health of overall ecosystem. One of the effects is greatly improved visibility, making the fairly dense forest feel safer and the trails less easy to get lost on. Though sections of the trail are some of the steepest you’ll find other than the Knoll and can be a bit rugged, they are still fairly wide and easy to navigate. During the spring and fall you might see kids from the Taft high and middle schools training here.
Locals might have driven past this 26-acre space many times and not even realized that there are well-made trails that wind around the small lake, so named for the natural spring that created it. Large enough to attract a few different species of waterfowl, you might even be lucky enough to sight a goose sitting on a nest that makes you glad you brought your long-distance lens with you. There are only a few parking spots right at the trailhead on West Devils Lake Road, about two miles from Highway 101, but Spring Lake is close enough to Regatta Park that can you park there and take a short hike.
The smallest of the lot at 23 acres, this is a place best enjoyed as much through the ears as through the eyes. The sounds of the many birds that flock to the area, just south of Devils Lake, fill the air during different parts of the day while you walk this short loop trail. Parking is available in a small turnout across the street just to the west of the marked trailhead.
Though not new to Lincoln City, the two Community Gardens within city limits have been newly acquired by the Parks and Recreation Department and will now be maintained by them.
“Now that the City maintains the community gardens in Taft and Oceanlake, Joe Miller and his crew are putting new energy into them,” Sprague said. “including new raised beds, fresh soil and signage; it looks awesome. And we currently have plenty of plots available to the public.”
Plots are $40 per plot, per year. For more information or to reserve a plot, call 541-994-2131.
Supporting the opportunities for outdoor recreation and gardening is something Sprague feels is integral to ensuring the future of Lincoln City as a good place to live and visit.
“I believe being outdoors in nature contributes to the health and happiness of our community members and the people who vacation here,” Sprague said. “I hear often from people how much better they feel after taking a walk in the park; that’s what we’re all about. Having Open Spaces is a vital need for community health and we have acres of them to take advantage of within city limits.”
To find out more about volunteer opportunities, call LoRee LaFon at 541-996-1248.