Getting outdoors with your family is a great way to stay local and stay safe, and Albany has a lot of areas to explore: Sneak up on sun-basking turtles at Talking Water Gardens, spend an afternoon fishing at one of our area lakes, or just hop on the bikes and take a ride over miles of trails the city has to offer.
Here are a few suggestions to get you safely out and about for a day of fishing, birdwatching and biking:
Talking Water Gardens
Drive or bike east on Front Street past the Albany/Millersburg Water Reclamation Facility and you will find this gem. Created for cooling treated wastewater before it is discharged into the Willamette River, this 50-acre manufactured wetland is home to more than 200 species of birds and several species of amphibians, mammals and native plants. Some critters can be seen all day long but start your day early and maybe catch a glimpse of a mink or marten, turtles and other creatures. Bring your bird identification book, download a checklist and see how many birds you can identify in an hour. If you brought a lunch, take a break and sit by one of the many refreshing waterfalls built into the area to help cool the water.
If you have time, head into adjacent Simpson Park with its 168 woody acres that include miles of trails and a lake you can fish for crappie, bass and bluegill.
Waverly Lake, Timber-Linn Lake, Freeway Lakes
If you want to continue fishing, head over to nearby Waverly Lake, a former rock pit that now forms an oasis at the entrance to Albany’s eastern gate. This 5-acre lake — home to Waverly Duck, a giant decoy that greets visitors every summer – is stocked every year with trout, including some rather large brood trout, a few tipping the scales at over 10 pounds. The lake is ringed by a path that makes it very accessible.
Waverly Lake is one of three Albany-area lakes stocked yearly by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. Timber-Linn Lake at Timber-Linn Park is 11 acres and very accessible, making it a perfect spot for a day out with the family. Best access is to take Price Road from Highway 20.
Freeway Lakes is three small lakes along Interstate 5 south of Albany. They are accessible by Three Lakes road, which runs along the east side of I-5. The lakes are stocked with trout early in the season but are also home to warm-water species including crappie and bluegill.
Fishing licenses are required for any person 14 years of age or older and can be purchased at most sporting goods stores in the area.
If you just want to hit the trails, Albany has miles of them, and chances are there’s one near your neighborhood. Check out the list at the City of Albany’s website and download the trail map and plan.
Two of the most scenic trails follow the Willamette River: The Dave Clark Trail on the eastern bank and Takena Landing Trail on the west, both running about 3 miles round trip.
If you want to add a little length to the Dave Clark Trail, exit Monteith Riverpark at the west end, travel up Calapooia Street to Third Avenue, then head down into Bryant Park, where you loop around near the confluence of the Willamette and Calapooia Rivers. A nice diversion on a sunny day.
If you are planning a day outside of Albany in the Willamette National Forest and other areas, be sure to “know before you go” and start by checking these websites to make sure what areas are open and what to expect when you get there. Many sites are only partially open, and some do not have restrooms or waste collection.
What is open and closed: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/willamette/home/?cid=FSEPRD712877
Oregon State Parks by status: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=v.dsp_parkstatus
Limited day-use open at some State Parks/Covid FAQ: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=v.dsp_featureArticle&articleId=272
Some State Parks offer limited day-use access: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=v.dsp_featureArticle&articleId=279
Image credits on this page: Heron feature image, by Dina Ratzliff; Female mallard duck at Talking Waters Garden by Kimberly Silva; Waverly Lake Sunset by David Maestes; Cyclists at the Linn County Courthouse by Cathy Webb; McDowell Creek Park by Phillip Marks.