- Rating: Moderate
- Activity: See Wildflowers
- Distance: 3 miles round-trip
- Time: 2 hours
While peaks closer to Portland are still cloaked in their lackluster winter hues, spring arrives a bit sooner at 1,531-foot-high Mount Pisgah near Eugene, where more than 300 species of blooming wildflowers light up the landscape. George Wuerthner’s Oregon’s Best Wildflower Hikes makes a helpful guide on the moderate West Summit Trail, which winds through arches of oak trees drenched in lichen and carpets of camas, buttercups and irises. Here, the shadowy mounds of the Coast Range loom large behind a wildflower-sprinkled Willamette Valley in a scene befitting a Monet painting. It’s a vista well worth the highway miles; make a day of it with a visit to one of the area’s myriad vineyards on the return trip.
ROUTE: From the trailhead on the east side of the parking lot, head uphill through a canopy of Oregon white oak for 1/4 mile. At the bench marking the intersection with the Western Slope Trail, look for the delicate pink-and-white buds of the wild onion and continue up the mountain, skirting the edge of the geranium-specked oak savannah. Bear right at the next two intersections, following patches of miner’s lettuce to the summit, where a monument donated by Ken Kesey depicts the surrounding peaks in bronze relief. Find a comfortable spot on the grassy expanse and drink in the views, perhaps pulling out your sketchbook and channeling your inner Impressionist.
DIRECTIONS: Follow Interstate 5 south to Eugene and exit at 30th St. Turn right (south) at the stoplight and at the next light, turn left (east). At the stop sign, turn left (north), then after the Shell station, bear right (east). At Seavey Loop Road, turn left (north) and follow the signs to Mount Pisgah Arboretum (free; $2 May to September).