I’ve decided we should start our hiking adventures together right here in town. Don’t worry adventurous hiking Mamas, we will travel to new places, but for now, let’s stick with what we know and encourage new hikers or nervous hikers to get out on the trail. Without further ado, Spencer Butte.
Having grown up here, I am no stranger to this trail. I hiked it as a kid myself, and have found my way to the top many times. Hiking it as a Mama, is a new challenge, but one that can be easily accomplished.
(THIS IS NOT RIDGELINE TRAIL – WE WILL EXPLORE THAT ON ANOTHER DAY)
Hours: 6:00 am – 11:00 pm
Parking: Large parking lot right at the base of the trail
Distance: 2.16 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 700 feet
Bathrooms: Port-a-potty at base of trail
Trail: Well-groomed dirt trail, rock scramble just before the summit
Mobility: Moderate (if you are unable to take bigger steps or do squat/lunge –type movements, the last bit of the hike will be very difficult.)
Cell Service: Spotty
Potential Dangers: POISON OAK, Rattle Snakes (which my father always warned me about and I NEVER believed him, until I saw one myself a few years ago)
Shoes: Nike Terra Kiger (trail runners)
Kid Shoes: Keen Hikers
Backpack: REI kids pack
In the pack: water, snacks, layers of clothes
I’ve done this hike twice in the last few weeks. The first time, I went by myself with my two littles. This was the first time I attempted to have my smallest walk on her own. She was determined to do it all by herself. (I wrapped the Ergo around my waist just in case). The second time, I went with just my smallest and a friend who carried her 2-week old baby in a front pack.
At 3 ½, my bug did a great job! She picked a steady pace and held to it the whole time. No Ergo needed! The only struggle we had, and which I expected to have, was the scramble at the top. She isn’t quite big enough or sturdy enough to do it on her own, so with that, I was doing a lot of lifting her up to the next rocky area and then scrambling up on my own and on and on. The tricky part was keeping an eye on the boy who wanted to be able to just power through, scramble up, and not have to wait for us.
SOMETHING OF NOTE: At this last part of the hike, height is on your side. Even though I’m an average 5’6”, I have the world’s shortest legs. In order to step up at the end, I would need to lean forward, etc. shifting my center of balance which can be particularly tricky with a baby in the front pack or a toddler in the hiking pack. However, when I went with my almost 6’ friend with the world’s longest legs, she just stepped as though it were nothing, keeping her balance perfectly while her 2-week old slept peacefully in her front pack.
Getting down was also a bit of an interesting endeavor as my 3 & a 1/2 year old doesn’t quite get the concept of gravity or that if she simply steps off the edge she won’t necessarily land on her feet. There were a few times that I was concerned for her shoulder dislocating while she was holding my hand as she slid/jumped/propelled herself off a rock.
This hike is the perfect place to start if you are unsure about hiking alone with your kids. It’s not too steep, not too long, and just high enough that your kids will feel as though they have conquered Everest. My kids LOVE this hike. Gorgeous fir trees keep you shaded for almost the entire trail. The switchbacks make you feel like you are moving quickly. The views at the summit are breath-taking. I have never been there when there weren’t plenty of other (friendly) people around to make me feel very safe by myself.
ADVANCED HIKE DISCLAIMER: This is a popular hike to do at sunset. Where it is totally worth it and the views are uh-mazing, your hike down will be DARK. You will definitely want headlamps/flashlights. This is NOT something you want to do if your kids (or you) are afraid of the dark.
There is construction going on at the top of Spencer Butte this spring & summer. It looks like it will be awesome & more accessible when it's done so that's really great. Periodically they will be closing the top for the more intensive construction. Check this link for up-to-date information about closures:
Hike Mom Hike!
Jenna is mama to two awesome kids, a boy & a girl. They explore Lane County's hills & mountains on a regular basis. See all of Jenna's Hike Mom Hike posts here.