I am in The Netherlands in May, when my friend Vanessa sends me a text. Do I have June 20 off? I tell her I don’t but I can take it off. She has a credit for airline tickets and wants to go somewhere for Juneteenth weekend. Am I interested in going? I don’t hesitate and tell her I am in. I happen to have a free night and points with Marriott. With that settled, we need to decide where we want to go. After some thoughts, we agree we will go hiking around Eugene Oregon. Oregon is also where the Willamette Valley is, famous for it’s Pinot wine, so it becomes our “hiking for wine” in Oregon long weekend.
We land in Eugene on a Friday night, pick up our car and drive the short drive to our hotel in Springfield. After a quick bite to eat, we go to bed as we have trails to hike and wines to taste the next morning.
Willamette National Forrest
We wake up early the next morning and put on our hiking clothes. Today the plan is to drive to the Willamette National Forest and hike the 8.4 mile Castle Rock Trail. It’s a little over an hour drive. We should have downloaded the Alltrails map, as when we get closer, our cell reception disappears. The GPS directs us to a parking lot and we try to find the trailhead. We start on the trail that heads down towards the McKenzie river. However, we soon realize that the directions has dropped us at the top instead of the bottom of the trail. That is not want we want so we return to the car. Looking for an alternative trail, we find a beautiful trail 15 minutes away.
This time we find the right parking lot. It’s an fairly easy trail along the McKenzie river, through the Forrest. There are beautiful views of the river and waterfalls. The trail meanders over little wooden bridges and eventually leads us to the Tamolitch Blue Pool. And the Blue Pool does not disappoint. It’s blue greenish water creates beautiful reflections of the surrounding green trees.
Wine tasting at Silvan Ridge Winery
Although we did not do our 8 mile hike, we sill feel good about the beautiful 5 miles round-trip to the Blue Pool. After a quick shower, it is time to go to our first wine tasting at Silvan Ridge. After a scenic drive on winding roads, we arrive at 3.30. We are seated outside and we both order the Taste of Oregon. We learn that there is an event that night. They are hosting the Silvan Ridge twilight 5k charity run, that starts and ends at the winery.
Dinner at Lion and Owl
We leave before the runners start arriving. We have reservations at the Lion and Owl that night at 8. But we are hungry after our hike and we decide to take a chance and see if they can take us early. We are lucky and they can seat us when we get there.
The restaurant has an airstream RV inside and we learn that is how the restaurant originally started. As for the name of the restaurant, we are told that a lion and owl are the favorite animals of the chef and the sommelier.
After browsing the menu, we decide to share the steak frites and a second main course of zucchini, but we start with the delicious house-made dinner rolls with chicken fat, garlic chives and sea salt. Our cocktails have arrived as well and hungry, we dig in.
On Sunday, we decided to hike the Ridgeline trail in the Cascades, south west of Eugene. It is a 12 mile hike, so we bring lots of water and snacks. Optimistically, we try two restaurants for breakfast, but it is mother’s day, so they are all packed. We settle for Starbucks instead. We park at the trailhead and start our hike through a beautiful green forest trail. Ascending and then descending again, gets us to another parking lot. We continue and at one point, looking at the map, we realize, continuing will get us to another parking lot and not the ridge top we anticipated. Realizing this, we turn around and find the trail that leads us to Spencer’s Butte, or “Spencer’s butt” as I call it. The views on the top are spectacular. Satisfied we hike the 5 miles back to the car.
Another Food and Wine afternoon
I had found a couple of small local wineries near Eugene, but hadn’t been able to make reservations. After we finish our, hike, I see on the map that one of them, Abbalone, is very close. We decide to just show up in the hope they can accommodate us. The winery is just opening when we arrive. We happily grab a table and order a tasting and a cheese and charcuterie board. While enjoying the views over the garden, we eat the food and zip the wine. They are really nice and we decide to ship some home. Unfortunately, they do not have a license to sell and ship to California. So we will just have to come back! That evening, we have another great meal at Marche. A fun fact and total coincidence, is that one of the owners of Lion and Owl, used to work at Marche.
Oregon Coastal hike
On Monday morning, we drive to the coast for a hike at Cape Perpetua. It’s a beautiful drive. We stop at the Sea Lion Caves, but we are short of time and want to get our hike in. So we continue along the coast for another 20 minutes until we reach our trail head of the Oregon Coast Trail in Siuslaw National Forest. The trail hugs the coast and has beautiful views over the Pacific Ocean. It is only a short hike and just enough before we have to drive back to Eugene to catch our flight home. We can look back on a wonderful weekend of hiking, food and wine.