Authentically Albany Rewards Giveaway

There are so many great reasons to support local businesses. And while you’re at it, enter the Authentically Albany Rewards Giveaway. There might just be a $100 reward for you!

You can support Albany business owners by shopping in their stores, eating in their restaurants and using their services. Show us who you shop with!

Short on cash? You can help in other ways without spending money.

  • If you’re on social media, like their Facebook and Instagram pages, share their posts. Comment on things you like.
  • When you find something you like at a specific store or a favorite new menu item or beverage – tell someone about it! Word of mouth goes a long way!
  • Enter our #AuthenticallyAlbany Rewards Giveaway. Take a photo of your favorite store, purchase or proprietor in Albany. Tell us about it and tag us on Facebook or Instagram with #AuthenticallyAlbany. You will be entered to win a $100 gift card from one of our Albany businesses. Not on social media? No problem, send us an email photo or drop it by the AVA office with your comments and we will enter for you.

3 WAYS TO ENTER EACH WEEK!

Respond to social media posts by AVA. Follow us on all our social platforms and watch for our giveaway posts.

1. When you see a giveaway post, Like the post, tag a friend and answer the question in the comments.

2. Shop or dine and email your receipts to giveaway@AlbanyVisitors.com.

3. Share your own Albany adventure or outing. Shop, dine, gather, or explore any of Albany’s unique experiences. Share a photo and a caption, tag a friend and use the hashtags #authenticallyAlbany and #myAlbanystory

Bonus entry: ENTER TO WIN HERE

4. Subscribe to our free monthly e-newsletter. Not only will you be entered in the Authentically Albany Rewards Giveaway, you will get fun travel ideas delivered to your inbox each month.

Each week, we’ll pick a winner at random to win a $100 gift card courtesy of The Albany Visitors Association. You can enter in any or all of the ways above and there’s a new chance to win every week.

Many local shops are still offering online options and can ship directly to your house, so you can still support local with the convenience and safety of online shopping.

The AVA is supporting local businesses by purchasing gift certificates and will choose a winner each

week for 14 weeks.

Questions? Reach out and connect (541) 928-0911 or stop by 110 3rd Ave SE, Albany Oregon 97321.

Celebrate Albany history during Preservation Month

White hisstoric house with red flowers, Albany, OR Photo by Camron Settlemier
Photo by Camron Settlemier

History buffs will enjoy several treats in May during National Preservation Month, with a host of events planned to celebrate Albany history and the efforts to keep and maintain our historic treasures.

And one event that anyone can take part in: the Memorial Day Porch Tour.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, nearly all events were canceled for 2020. This year, hopes are high that most, if not all, will be held. As of this writing some events are finalizing details, and more events could be added before May 1, so stay tuned. And, because of the nature of the pandemic, any surge in cases could cause some events to be changed or canceled, so keep an eye on this blog and the AVA Calendar of Events for any new developments.

For now, get ready to have some fun with friends and enjoy diverse ways to celebrate our wonderful bounty of history.

Memorial Day Porch Tour As a tribute to the men and women who gave their lives serving our country, some Albany residents are paying their respects by adorning their porches for Memorial Day weekend — May 29-31 — as part of activities in May during National Preservation Month.

People can start touring them on Saturday, May 29, through Memorial Day. The event is sponsored by the Albany Landmarks Commission, Albany Downtown Association, and the Albany Visitors Association.

Here are addresses to participating sites: 821 7th Ave. SW; 821 12th Ave. SE; 220 7th Ave. SE; 900 Price Rd. SE; 914 5th Ave. SW; 700 Broadway SW.

View and Download map of participating locations here or see the Albany Explorer app on Google Play and Apple App Store

Basket Drawing A random drawing was held for a gift basket among the participants and the winner is 821 7th Ave. SW. Thanks to all who participated! Thanks also to all who helped sponsor the drawing and provided the contents of the basket: Albany Downtown Association, Albany Visitors Association, Brick Circuit, City Delivery Service, Jim Janson, Landmark Commission, Lux + Lu Boutique, Natural Sprinkles, Sybaris Bistro, and Town & Country Reality – Jessica Pankratz.

Here are photos of the participating houses.

Albany has a long history of supporting veterans, and participants are encouraged to illustrate that dedication by decking out their porches with patriotic colors, flags, signs, flowers, balloons, lights or whatever they feel inspired to use to create a Memorial Day theme.

Once finished, participants are asked to take a picture of their porch and send it to the AVA so they can be posted online for all to enjoy. After Memorial Day, participants are encouraged to keep their porches trimmed through the Fourth of July to honor all veterans and those currently serving.

Participants are asked to email their name and address to info@albanyvisitors.com by Friday, May 21, 3:00 p.m. Once the porch is finished, they can email the photo to the AVA, or post it on Facebook at #authenticallyalbany. As a small token of appreciation, anyone taking part will be entered in a drawing for a gift basket. Names will not be posted online, just the addresses for the tour.

For more information, contact the AVA at 541-928-0911, or info@albanyvisitors.com.

May 1 through May 31, 2021

City of Albany Hashtag Mini-Tour Are you a fan of historic buildings? Please join Historic Landmarks on Facebook and Instagram for a series of mini tours as historic district residents and fans showcase one small feature of their favorite historic building. For residents, there’s no deep cleaning involved: just snap a photo or take a video of the building and/or the feature you love, inside or out and tell us something about it. Fans, snap your photo or video from the sidewalk or public right of way. Next, share it on your own Facebook or Instagram (make sure your Facebook post or your Instagram account is public) and be sure to type the hashtags #authenticallyalbany and #oregonheritage in your description or in the comment section. Simple as that! Historic property fans and tour hosts can then use the search bar in Facebook or Instagram to search for the hashtags and see all the mini-tours folks have hosted.

Hidden History Scavenger Hunt Keep a sharp eye out as you tour Albany’s Historic Downtown and spot the wonderful details on this list of architectural elements. Pick up an entry form at The Natty Dresser, 124 Broadalbin St. SW., or download one here and return them to the shop by 5. p.m., May 31.

Kids Downtown Scavenger Hunt The Albany Downtown Association invites families to stroll downtown and peek in store windows on a hunt to find mini-posters featuring items from days gone by. Learn a little about how things used to be and enter your findings on the entry form. Get the form and details HERE

Albany Farmers’ Market is the oldest outdoor farmers’ market in Oregon. Open every Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Purchase hand-picked produce, fresh flowers, baked bread, local eggs, meats and more. The market is located at 4th and Ellsworth in the City Hall parking lot. Be sure to follow the physical distancing rules for a safe and healthy market experience. For more about what the market has to offer, including online pre-visit order forms to make your visit even safer, be sure to check their website at LocallyGrown.org.

Sunday, May 2

Cumberland Church Open House Tour the former Cumberland Church, built in 1892, and learn about plans to relocate and renovate the building to create a community events center. Volunteers will be available to answer any questions and solicit input from the community. Tours will be available Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. Reservations are required. To reserve your place, call the Albany Visitors Association, 541-928-0911 by noon the preceding Thursday. Visitors are required to wear face masks.

Friday, May 7

1st Friday & Wine Tastings sponsored by The Natty Dresser: 4 to 9 p.m., Downtown Albany. For information go to the 1st Friday Downtown Albany Facebook page.

Saturday, May 8

Tweed Ride Cruise along on bikes and look great doing it on Albany’s annual Tween Ride. The event takes place on the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend and is part of the Historic Preservation Month activities. Participants don their finest tweed attire (or any period clothing) and take a bicycle tour of Albany’s historic districts. The event begins at 10:30 a.m. and is hosted by The Natty Dresser, 124 Broadalbin St. SW, a full-service menswear shop in the heart of Historic Downtown Albany. The tour will be stopping on occasion to talk about historic buildings and sights along the way. The ride begins at The Natty Dresser and ends at the Deluxe Brewery, where they will be hosting their annual Vintage Bicycle Show and Swap Meet (see the next entry). Food and drink will be available for purchase at the brewery. You are welcome to bring a picnic lunch on the ride, as the brewery allows outside food. Bring a cup if it looks like it is going to be a warm day for wearing tweed; there will be a water break along the way.

Vintage Bicycle Show & Swap Enjoy more than 75 vintage bicycles from 1 to 5 p.m. at this annual event, sponsored by the Deluxe Brewing Company, 635 Water Ave NE. Admission is free and socially distancing rules will apply. Most of the bike show will be outside.

Takenah Walking Tour The Albany Regional Museum is holding two walking tours, at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., beginning at the museum, 136 Lyon St. S. For a short time in its history, Albany was called Takenah. The tours, narrated by Bill Maddy, will focus on the people, places and politics of the Hackleman District, their role in the name change, and in the overall history of Albany. The tour will be on city sidewalks and not always wheelchair friendly, Covid regulations for safe distancing will be required. Space is limited and registration is required by calling the museum at 541-967-7122. Fee for the tour is $5 per party (maximum six persons per party). Registration deadline is May 3.

Sunday, May 9

Cumberland Church Open House Tour the former Cumberland Church, built in 1892, and learn about plans to relocate and renovate the building to create a community events center. Volunteers will be available to answer any questions and solicit input from the community. Tours will be available Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. Reservations are required. To reserve your place, call the Albany Visitors Association, 541-928-0911 by noon the preceding Thursday. Visitors are required to wear face masks.

Wednesday, May 12

1st Avenue History Tour Meet at Burkhart Square, at the corner of 1st Ave. and Lyon Street, at 6 p.m. and take an informative tour of 1st Avenue. Sponsored by The Natty Dresser.

History Bites: Albany’s Cast Iron Bernadette Niederer will present a virtual program, from noon to 1 p.m., highlighting Albany’s history cast iron works and where some of those architectural details might be seen. Albany Regional Museum

Thursday, May 13

2nd Avenue History Tour Meet at Burkhart Square, at the corner of 1st Ave. and Lyon Street, next to the Lyon Street Bridge at 6 p.m. and enjoy stories about the history of 2nd Avenue in Historic Downtown Albany. Sponsored by The Natty Dresser.

Saturday, May 15

Water Avenue Tour Sponsored by the Friends of Historic Albany, learn about businesses that used to line Albany’s waterfront. Stay tuned for details.

Sunday, May 16

Cumberland Church Open House Tour the former Cumberland Church, built in 1892, and learn about plans to relocate and renovate the building to create a community events center. Volunteers will be available to answer any questions and solicit input from the community. Tours will be available Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. Reservations are required. To reserve your place, call the Albany Visitors Association, 541-928-0911 by noon the preceding Thursday. Visitors are required to wear face masks.

Wednesday, May 19

Friends of Historic Albany Annual Meeting All are invited to attend this Zoom meeting, particularly anyone interested in joining the group. On tap will be an update on the year’s activities and election of officers. FOHA

Sunday, May 23

Cumberland Church Open House Tour the former Cumberland Church, built in 1892, and learn about plans to relocate and renovate the building to create a community events center. Volunteers will be available to answer any questions and solicit input from the community. Tours will be available Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. Reservations are required. To reserve your place, call the Albany Visitors Association, 541-928-0911 by noon the preceding Thursday. Visitors are required to wear face masks.

Monday, May 24

S.E. Young Building Tours: Noon and 4 p.m. RSVP request by calling 541-248-3561. Meet at the Broadalbin Street entrance to The Natty Dresser, 124 Broadalbin St. SW, five minutes prior to the tour.

Saturday, May 29

Memorial Day Porch Tour In tribute to the men and women who gave their lives in defense of our country, and to those who have served and continue to serve in the military, several porches will be adorned in their honor. Beginning May 28, photos of the participating porches and a map of where to find them will be available to view. Stay tuned for where to find that as the date approaches.

Sunday, May 30

Cumberland Church Open House Tour the former Cumberland Church, built in 1892, and learn about plans to relocate and renovate the building to create a community events center. Volunteers will be available to answer any questions and solicit input from the community. Tours will be available Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. Reservations are required. To reserve your place, call the Albany Visitors Association, 541-928-0911 by noon the preceding Thursday. Visitors are required to wear face masks.

Year-Round Opportunities

We will be updating this post regularly throughout Historic Preservation Month, so check back frequently for new activities, Other ideas for you include:

  • Albany Explorer App or download a tour and use your car or bike to travel the various routes from “Seems Like Old Times.”
  • Stop by the new Fire Station 11 and get peek at the 1927 American LaFrance fire engine and other items of interest on display in the lobby. The station is at 611 Lyon St. SE.
  • Albany’s Historic Carousel & Museum Take a ride on one of the whimsical critters that grace the historic 1909 Dentzel mechanism, tour the new museum or catch one of the carvers creating yet another masterpiece. Don’t forget to check out the gift shop, then have a treat at the snack bar for the road. Operating hours are TBA depending on Covid restrictions.
  • Get an up-close look at some of Albany’s past through interesting exhibits at the Albany Regional Museum. Visit the ARM website for current operating hours.
  • Mark your calendar for Albany’s two historic homes tours, the Summer Historic Home Tour on July 31 and the Christmas Tour on Dec. 12. Traditionally the tours were of the inside of the homes. Since Covid, the tours have been restricted to the exteriors with activities planned around the event. Stay tuned for more information about each.

Albany Farmers’ Market offers fresh food and fun

Get ready for fresh local produce and fun as the Albany Farmers’ Market opens Saturday, April 17, in Historic downtown Albany.

Photo by Camron Settlemier

Hours for the Albany market will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays for 32 weeks through Nov. 24, and will set up in its usual spot at Fourth Avenue and Ellsworth Street next to Albany City Hall.

Open air and wide aisles are two factors that local farmers’ markets have going in their favor. But the market and farmers and producers need full cooperation from everyone to stay open and keep the community safe.

This is the second season under Covid-19 restrictions and customers are asked to continue exercising safe distancing and to please wear a mask.

Organizers are also asking patrons to observe these protocols:

  • Stay at home if you are not feeling well
  • Consider ordering and prepaying for items
  • Send one person per household
  • Bring cash when possible
  • Use hand washing stations at the market
  • Comply with rules and methods at each booth
  • Don’t eat while at the market
  • Purchase items and then promptly exit

Several vendors have registered and are ready to sell their delicious fare, including fresh fish and meat, pastries and lots of early season produce. Market shoppers can go here to search for particular vendors and view interactive maps showing the approximate location of vendors on each market day.

According to information from market organizers, some vendors who did not participate in 2020 will return thanks to the availability of vaccines, while others will be back or come more frequently after securing services at USDA-inspected meat processing plants that were affected in 2020 both by COVID and by wildfires.

New Albany vendors this season include well-known Corvallis vendors Brandywine Fisheries and The Naked Crepe, and new faces All Tucked Inn and Woolly Oak Farm.

A few vendors who did not participate in 2020 will be returning to markets thanks to the availability of vaccines.  Some vendors will return or come more often because they have secured services at USDA-inspected meat processing plants that were affected in 2020 both by COVID and by wildfires.

The market will continue its partnership with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) redemptions, and will match the first $10 of every SNAP purchase with Double Up Food Bucks.

Live music and most educational events remain on hold, with the exception of the Power of Produce (PoP) Club, which in 2020 found a COVID-safe way to provide fruits and vegetables to kids ages 5 to 12. This year, beginning July 3, parents can pick up one free produce item for each eligible child.

If shopping in person is a concern, patrons can get a head start by placing an online order. To get started, head here to the marketplace homepage, where shoppers can register, shop, see schedules for ordering periods and learn other helpful tips. For patrons who used the service last season, their password is still valid.

For more information about the market and pre-order options, visit locallygrown.org, and its Facebook page.

For a list of more markets around the mid-valley, click here to go to our Farms and Farmers Markets page.

The Albany Farmers’ Market is thought to be the oldest continuously operating open-air farmers’ market in Oregon. It began on the riverfront and moved in 2007 to its current location.

Please observe all safe distancing and other safety protocols, and together we can help keep alive this great tradition of shopping fresh and local.

How to leave no trace when camping and hiking

By Mike Nicosia, Conquerwild.com

Mike Nicosia

There’s no greater beauty than that of Mother Nature. Many people (including myself) consider the outdoors to be their “happy place.” However, whenever we step outside, we must remember that we are visitors in someone else’s home.

Every time you embark on a hike or partake in a camping trip, you’re entering the living space of millions of precious creatures. This includes animals, plants, fungi, microscopic organisms and lots more.

The well-being of a single ecosystem can have an effect on the planet as a whole. The Earth is essentially a living being in its own right. If the planet is not in good health, how can we expect its inhabitants to be healthy?

This is why it’s vital that we take precautions when spending any time in the outdoors. Here’s where the Leave No Trace principles come into play.

What Does It Mean To Leave No Trace?

To put it simply, leaving no trace means making the best possible effort to minimize your impact on the environment when you travel outdoors. The ultimate goal is to make it seem as if you had never been there in the first place.

Once upon a time, all humans lived in the wild. Though we have come a long, long way since then, and our habits have changed significantly. We sometimes forget how damaging our behavior can be to our own planet.

The more careless we are, the more of a negative impact we have on the environment. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the choices we make.

While the concept of “leaving no trace” was born in the 1960‘s, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics came about in the 90‘s. This is a nonprofit organization which focuses on educating youth, minimizing impact globally and helping to preserve the environment.

Leave No Trace has 7 principles, and you should abide by each of them strictly during all of your outdoor adventures. This applies to everything from week-long camping excursions to quick trips into your backyard.

Let’s run through each of the 7 principles, discussing the do’s, the don’ts and everything else you need to know.

Principle 1: Plan Ahead & Prepare

An outdoor adventurer without a plan is an outdoor adventurer asking for trouble. Without efficient planning, you won’t be able to protect the environment or yourself to the best of your abilities.

The less prepared you are, the more likely you will find yourself resorting to high impact tactics.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand the skill level of your entire group before embarking on a camping/hiking adventure.

It’s never a good idea to choose a trail or route that’s above your skill level. This may cause you or your group members to tire out quickly, making you less capable of leaving no trace.

Your group is only as quick as your slowest member. For this reason, it’s also important to know the speed at which your group travels. If you’re backpacking toward a campsite, you must always leave yourself enough time to arrive before nightfall. If it’s dark out, it will be much more difficult to set up camp properly or safely.

You should also be sure to avoid any restricted areas during your journey. Some portions of land are labeled as private property or restricted for environmental reasons.

If a forest is off-limits due to a fragile ecosystem, it’s very important that you steer clear of that area at all costs. Violating these regulations can cause irreversible damage in some cases. Depending on the restrictions in your region, you may also be fined or arrested.

Remember: anything that goes wrong during your trip is your responsibility.

You should also be very particular with what you wear when camping, hiking or backpacking. Choose items that will keep you comfortable and safe, depending on the time of year and weather in your area.

Do’s:

  • Use maps, hiking/camping apps or books to prevent you from veering off trail. Even if you think you know the way, be sure to double check that you’re on the right path every few minutes. All Trails is a great mobile app to use for this.
  • Talk to park rangers/local land managers to become aware of any environmental concerns, fragile ecosystems or wildlife updates that you should know while hiking. You may also be able to find this information online. Partial trail closures are common, especially after strong winds have downed trees. Always check to see if there is an alternate route.
  • Keep track of your goals and whether or not you’ve accomplished them (both your goals for leaving no trace and your own physical goals). This way, you’ll be aware of how to improve on your next trip.
  • Before embarking on your journey, remove all food items from their wrappers and place them into reusable, sealable bags. This will reduce the amount of waste you carry with you.
  • Try to bring a portable camp stove if you plan on cooking. Don’t rely on the need to start a fire.
  • Pack your own water instead of relying on natural sources. You never know if you’ll be able to find clean, drinkable water in the wilderness.
  • Bring along a first aid kit and ensure that your phone is fully charged (it may be a good idea to bring a portable charger).

Don’t…

  • …embark on a hike/camping trip last minute without making any preparations.
  • …plan a trip that’s above your skill level.
  • …bring along any extra food that you won’t be consuming during your trip. Leftovers = Waste.
  • …violate land restrictions. Never enter private land or hunting zones. Don’t venture off into an area where there are no trails.
  • …camp or hike when extreme weather is expected. Also, look out for flood zones, areas prone to forest fires, or areas known for unpredictable weather. These can all put your life in danger and make it harder for you to leave no trace.
  • …set up camp at night- you may accidentally choose a dangerous or environmentally sensitive area due to lack of light.
  • …overstuff your backpack. This makes it more likely that you’ll drop something without noticing.
  • …camp or hike when there’s a large amount of foot traffic. This means avoiding holidays and popular trails on weekends.
  • …wear large amounts of perfume when camping or hiking.

Principle 2: Travel & Camp On Durable Surfaces

The forest floor is often teeming with life. Communities of organisms, vital vegetation and lots of other living beings often occupy the ground in popular camping/hiking locations. When you’re stepping over these surfaces, it’s vital that you do so cautiously. Your feet and body weight can cause a ton of damage.

Ultimately, the main goal is to avoid “trampling,” which means carelessly stomping over valuable vegetation and crushing it. This can lead to erosion or lots of other environmental issues.

The risk of damage to the ground depends on the size of your group, the frequency of travel and the fragility of the ground. Not every surface will have the same tolerance to your body weight.

Rocks, gravel and sand are the most durable surfaces to walk on. On the other end of the spectrum, vegetation tends to be the most fragile and should be avoided at all costs, especially when it’s wet.

When Hiking….

Do’s:

  • Travel on designated trails only, even if it’s wet or covered with mud. When in a group, be sure to walk in a single file line.
  • If you have to walk off trail and into grass or vegetation, make sure your group disperses. The more people that walk over a section of vegetation, the more strongly impacted it will be. If you avoid following the same path, you may be able to prevent trampling.
  • Be careful when walking on rocks. Although they‘re super durable, they sometimes have lichens growing on them. Lichens are complex organisms and plant-like growths that usually resemble moss. Avoid stepping on these at all costs, as they usually take hundreds or even thousands of years to grow! Causing damage to lichens may leave an impact that will last long after you’re gone.
  • In winter conditions, it’s usually acceptable to walk on snow and ice. Once it melts, you most likely won’t leave behind any permanent damage.
  • Keep an eye out for frogs, snakes, mice and other small animals that may cross your path. The pressure of your body weight will likely kill these tiny creatures if you don’t watch your step.

Don’t…

  • …walk on wet grass or through meadows.
  • …walk on cryptobiotic soil crusts. This is a type of soil that’s rich and usually dark in color- found mostly in deserts. It usually holds moisture and is home to communities of organisms, so we must preserve it.
  • …step in or interfere with desert puddles. There are often tiny creatures that live in these and some animals may use them for water.

When Camping…

Do’s:

  • Stick to established camping areas if you can. Places that have already been significantly impacted are the best because your presence probably won’t cause much additional damage. Strongly impacted areas are recognizable from their limited plant growth. 
  • Set up camp AT LEAST 200 feet away from water. This way, any animals in the area will have a safe path to get to and from their water source.
  • Consider using a hammock. Since they don’t contact the ground, they won’t cause any damage to the floor. Just make sure to choose a tree-friendly hammock.
  • Camp on rocks or sand if you can. These surfaces will show the least amount of damage.
  • Keep your area of usage small. Don’t spread out your campsite over a large amount of land. Try your best to consolidate all of your amenities into one area.
  • Clean up your campsite thoroughly before you leave.

Don’t…

  • …leave behind any trash, even if it was left by a previous camper. When leaving your campsite, your goal should be to make it seem as appealing as possible to future campers. This way, they will feel more inclined to settle there, rather than choosing an undisturbed area.
  • …set up camp too close to the edge of a cliff. There’s a greater chance of erosion which is bad for the ecosystem, and potentially deadly for you.

When Camping In A Remote/Previously Undisturbed Area…

Do’s:

  • Wear soft shoes around your campsite.
  • Use buckets to transport large quantities of water from your source instead of making repeated trips.
  • If you’ve made any disturbances in the grass or vegetation, brush them out before you leave.

Don’t…

  • …camp in a remote/previously undisturbed area if you’re not extremely well versed in Leave No Trace.
  • …brush away any organic material (leaves, pinecones, pine needles, acorns, etc.). These natural items help soften the impact of footprints and reduce the rate of erosion.
  • …stay in the same location for more than 2 nights.

Principle 3: Dispose Of Waste Properly

If there’s one thing you should remember about proper disposal in the outdoors, it’s this: if you bring it in, you must bring it out.

Nowadays, more and more trails are becoming filled with garbage and litter (as shown in the picture above, which I captured in September, 2020 on a trail in Harriman State Park, New York). It breaks my heart every time I see this on a popular trail.

It’s absolutely vital that you dispose of all waste properly when you’re outdoors. If you don‘t, your garbage may make its way into waterways, or it may be mistaken for food by animals. Both outcomes can have deadly consequences.

When you litter, you’re also hurting vegetation and microorganisms. Plastics can take anywhere from 20 to 500 years to decompose!… AKA an extremely long time. Please follow these do’s and don’ts of waste disposal every time you step outside of your home.

Do’s:

  • Bring along garbage bags (especially when camping) to throw away any garbage. Make sure to take the bags with you and dispose of them properly when you leave.
  • Pick up all litter including small bits of trash and organic materials like fruit and food waste (these can be damaging to certain ecosystems).
  • Wash all of your plates, cooking gear and equipment at least 200 feet away from any waterways. Drain the dirty waste water with a fine strainer and disperse it into the ground. Don’t pour it all out in one area.
  • Bring along sanitizer instead of using fresh water to wash your hands. This will help to prevent contamination of the waterways and the ground.

Don’t…

  • …bring along any messy, greasy or super pungent foods.
  • …wash yourself or your equipment in a body of water. This may contaminate the waterway, which is likely home to many organisms. Instead, you can use a bucket or pail to carry the water you need at least 200 feet away.
  • …swim in a body of water if there’s no other source of fresh water nearby. You may contaminate the only water source in the area, thus negatively affecting local animals.

Disposing Of Human Waste Properly

Trash and litter aren’t the only types of “waste” you need to worry about. Let’s not forget that you’re also responsible for using the bathroom correctly while outdoors.

If you can, using portable toilets are a great way to responsibly use the bathroom in nature. The only issue is that they tend to be bulky, making them difficult to transport or carry during a backpacking excursion.

When you’re backpacking long distance and have no choice but to do your business naturally, your best option is to dig a cathole. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Find a nice, private spot at least 200 feet from all sources of water. It’s best to choose areas that have dark, rich-colored soil. This will usually help your waste decompose faster. Aim for a spot with good sunlight exposure, which will also help with decomposition.
  2. Using a trowel or small shovel, dig a hole about 7 inches deep (5 inches if you’re in the desert). It should also be around 5 inches in diameter.
  3. Do your business directly into the hole. Careful not to miss!
  4. Once the deed is done, pour dirt back into the hole and bury your business. Do your best to smooth out the soil on top and make it look like you were never there.
  5. If you’re not in dry, arid land (like the desert), you can bury your toilet paper along with your waste (as long as it’s not scented or containing chemicals). If not, then pack it out in a sealable bag. If you don’t have toilet paper, you can also use things like leaves (look out for poison ivy!) or snow.

If you’re only urinating, make sure not to do so directly onto vegetation. As always, you must be at least 200 feet from all water sources. Also, make sure you’re not on a slope. You don’t want your urine trickling down into a nearby waterway.

When it comes to tampons, pads or other feminine hygiene products, you must pack out everything you bring in. Never bury these items.

Principle 4: Minimize Campfire Impacts

For many campers and backpackers, a campfire is an essential piece of tradition. However, we must remember that whenever we light a fire in the wilderness, we are taking a risk.

Fire, by nature, is dangerous. If you don’t build, maintain and extinguish your fire with caution, you’re essentially putting an entire ecosystem at risk of being destroyed. Even the smallest ember or small spark can cause an environmental catastrophe.

Almost 85% of wildfires in the United States are caused by humans, and it’s our job to prevent that number from increasing.

First and foremost, you must figure out whether or not fires are permitted in the area you’re in. In many parks and forests, fires are strictly prohibited due to environmental concerns.

In general, it’s a good idea to avoid building fires in areas with lots of dry wood/grass around, or in windy conditions. If you do decide to light a fire, here’s what you should remember:

Do’s:

  • Use a fire ring if there is one. Most established campsites will have these. This will help contain your fire.
  • Gather firewood from a wide area, and not just from one spot.
  • Always keep your fuel far away from the fire.
  • Make sure your fire is completely out and that the ash is cool to the touch before leaving it. There should be no embers visible and no smoke.
  • Once your fire is completely out, collect the ashes from your fire pit and scatter them over a wide area.
  • Instead of starting a fire, use a camp stove if you have one. It’s generally a more safe option.

Don’t…

  • …build a fire if it’s too windy. Too much wind can cause a fire to grow uncontrollably or blow embers long distance. This especially applies when in warmer climates.
  • …take firewood from a location where wood is scarce (like the desert).
  • …take firewood from areas where vegetation appears to have a hard time growing. It’s important that you do everything you can to encourage the growth of plant life in these areas.
  • …take firewood from a far away location (if you must buy firewood, do so locally). Bringing in foreign wood can introduce invasive species to a new ecosystem, which is a big no-no.
  • …leave a fire unattended under ANY circumstances.
  • …rely on standing trees for firewood. It’s never okay to chop down or damage a tree. This applies to fallen trees as well. Animals often use them for shelter and they help to recycle nutrients into the ground. Plus, they usually retain moisture, which means they won’t work for firewood.
  • …pull branches off of live trees.
  • …burn litter or garbage. This might release foreign toxins into the environment.
  • …urinate on a fire. This should go without saying, but it’s dangerous, irresponsible and kind of gross.

If there’s no fire ring at your campsite and you’d like an alternative method for building a safe fire, you can create a mound fire. Leave No Trace Center For Outdoors Ethics does a great job demonstrating how to do so in this video:

For more tips on how to build a fire safely and efficiently, you can check out this article.

Principle 5: Leave What You Find

The wilderness is not your home. Therefore, you should never steal from it. Whatever you find in the wild, must stay in the wild. 

This applies to all types of natural objects like rocks, bones and plants, but also to cultural artifacts… And it especially applies to wild animals that you come across. Even if they‘re cute.

The general rule to abide by: if it’s in the wild, it’s not yours.

Do’s:

  • Leave all natural objects or cultural items alone (cultural artifacts are legally protected by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act).
  • If you’ve moved any natural structures while prepping your campsite, make sure you put them back before leaving.
  • If you make a fire ring or any other type of temporary structure, dismantle it before leaving.
  • If you’ve moved or overturned any rocks, return them to their original position before leaving.
  • If you really need to move something, be sure to take a picture before doing so. This way, you’ll know where everything goes when it’s time to return everything back to its original place.

Don’t…

  • …dig unnecessary holes or trenches.
  • …build anything like tables, chairs, stools, etc. from the natural items you find.
  • …carve, chop, hammer cut or intentionally damage any natural structures/objects (such as trees, logs, sticks or rocks).
  • …pick flowers or rip plants out of the ground.
  • …transport any invasive species from one location to another.

Principle 6: Respect Wildlife

One of the most important aspects of leaving no trace is respecting wildlife. Remember that, when you enter the wilderness, you’re stepping into the home of hundreds, thousands or sometimes millions of creatures!

If these animals were entering your home, you’d like for them to abide by your rules, wouldn’t you? So let’s do the same for them. 

Neglecting to follow these do’s and don’ts can cause great harm to many of the beautiful creatures that live in the ecosystem. Be especially cautious in areas where endangered species are native.

Do’s:

  • Always set up camp at least 200 feet away from waterways so that wildlife has a safe path to reach it.
  • Abide by the safety rules for encountering predatory animals. You can check out my articles on bear safety and mountain lion safety for details.
  • Stay away from watering holes or small puddles in deserts. These are usually the only source of water for animals in these regions.

Don’t…

  • …approach, follow, chase, scare away or feed animals under any circumstances. This especially applies when there‘s extreme weather. Most animals are more at risk of dying during harsh conditions.
  • …approach or disturb a sick animal.
  • …approach animals while they’re mating or caring for young.
  • …touch animals, especially young ones. Some species may abandon their young if they’ve been touched by a human.

Principle 7: Be Considerate Of Other Visitors!

This last principle has less to do with the environment and more to do with your fellow nature lovers. Always stay mindful of the other campers or hikers around you. 

Remember that everyone wants to enjoy their experience in the outdoors, and it can be hard to do that when you‘re surrounded by inconsiderate people.

This past Labor Day Weekend, I went camping at Shenandoah National Park. Since it was a holiday weekend, the campgrounds were packed and we had several groups of campers within 15 yards of our campsite.

On our last night there, a group of young adults would not stop talking throughout the entire night.

Now, I’m usually not a party pooper, and I hate to complain, but I’m also a very light sleeper. Instead of drifting off to the tranquil noise of crickets chirping, I had to listen to the sound of heated debates and drunken belches until 4 AM. I barely got 30 minutes of sleep before my 5 AM sunrise hike… and I wasn‘t too happy about that.

However, I didn’t let it ruin my trip and I learned a valuable lesson: next time I camp on labor day weekend, I’ll bring ear plugs.

Remember that human voices can carry quite far through a silent forest, even if you’re talking at a low volume. This is why it’s important to obey the quiet hours that many campgrounds have in place, and follow these do’s and don’ts.

Do’s:

  • When camping, respect the fact that your fellow campers around you may have an early morning planned.
  • Pick up and properly dispose of all garbage from your campsite or hiking trail, even if it’s not yours.
  • If you must listen to music, use headphones rather than a speaker… Especially if you have bad taste in music.
  • Try to choose a tent that has a neutral or camouflaged color so that it blends into the background and isn‘t so harsh on the eyes.
  • Be aware of the quiet hours your campsite may have set up.
  • Always carry a face mask with you in case you need to pass someone at closer than 6 feet. It’s a sign of respect. Do your best to stay distant from others.
  • When hiking downhill, yield to your right for hikers who are traveling uphill.
  • If you are on a mountain bike, hikers on foot have the right of way. Yield to your right.
  • If someone is approaching on a horse, move slightly off trail and downhill if you can.

Don’t…

  • …take long breaks in the middle of a trail. You’ll be in the way of other hikers. Instead, try moving to a clearing, a rock or an area that has already been impacted.
  • …leave any lights on throughout the night while camping.
  • …set up camp too close to a hiking trail. You may make it hard for hikers to pass by.
  • …set up your bathroom close to a trail. This is just a bad idea all around.

Conclusion

When it comes to being environmentally conscious as a backpacker, there is no set of standards more important than Leave No Trace.

Always do your very best to reduce your impact. It doesn’t matter if you’re camping in the Swiss Alps, exploring the Amazon or walking across your front lawn, it‘s vital that you abide by each of the 7 principles.

Mother Nature has been abused and taken advantage of for centuries. As human beings, we must do our best to take care of her and show her the respect that she deserves. Be kind to the Earth, be kind to your fellow adventurers and be kind to yourself.

That’s all.

Mike Nicosia is a writer who is passionate about camping, hiking and all things nature. His website, Conquerwild.com, contains content aimed at helping people improve their experience in the wilderness.

Start planning family fun for Spring Break

By Kim Jackson

Spring break is just around the corner and now is a good time to start planning how you and your family can enjoy time together in and around Albany.

Photo by Shannon Strubhar

Covid restrictions have eased in Linn County, but you will still want to check websites or call ahead to find out about protocols and possible reservations. That includes your favorite eateries as well, who are ready to supply delicious meals and treats to keep you fueled up for your daily adventures.

Here are a few things you might think about planning for Spring Break activities, both indoors and out depending on the weather.

INDOORS

Make a mess — For an extreme experience, plan a trip to the Splatterbox, a paint-throwing art studio that promises fun for the whole family. Paint the walls or your family members in this one-of-a-kind romp. Go here and check out the packages offered and prices for Small Groups (up to 6 people for an hour), Large Groups (up to 12 for an hour and a half), a Party (up to 20 for two hours) or the After Dark option for couples and parties.

Pottery and paint — If you want something artistic but a little less messy, try your hand at pottery at Surefire Design. Paint any number of items provided by Surefire and they will glaze and fire them for you to pick up later! For some photos of the different kinds of pottery available to paint, go here.

Token to ride — To get up close and personal with some outstanding pieces of art – and hitch a ride on a few – head over to the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum and take a ride on your favorite creature. While there, take a tour of the carving studio to see how these wonderful pieces are created, visit the museum, then pop in on the painters to see them bring life to bears, dogs, horse dragons and any number of critters. Before you leave, be sure to visit the snack bar, and browse the gift shop for a memento of the occasion.

Art, art and, oh yeah: art — If you haven’t had enough art, be sure to visit Gallery Calapooia and The Crow’s Foot art galleries for some of the finest pieces of art in the mid-valley, as well as jewelry, pottery and other creations.

Movie night — For a relaxing evening treat (or a matinee!), plan to take in a movie at The Pix Theatre, where the snack bar has a delicious menu, including burgers, sandwiches, pizza, beer and other items, along with the usual movie fare of candy, popcorn and soft drinks.

Great escapes — For a real challenge, get your family and friends together and try to solve the puzzles and free yourselves from the escape rooms at the Enigma Escape Experience in Downtown Albany. Choose from one of three rooms with different adventures in each.

OUTDOORS

Biking — Pump up the tires and strap on the helmets as you explore Albany from the seat of your bicycles. Albany has several trails and paths to explore, and there are trips farther afield for the more adventurous. For a list of some ideas for all skill levels, click here. A blog on bicycling, written by Hasso Hering, can be found here.

Hiking – If you want to stay on foot, try one of the many paths Albany has to offer for walkers and hikers, including those at Talking Water Gardens, Simpson Park, the Dave Clark Path and Takena Landing Trail. Click here to find out more about those and other hikes you might enjoy outside of Albany.

March Madness — Don’t pass up a visit to Iron Water Ranch. This working fiber animal farm includes seasonal family-oriented events like bottle feeding baby lambs and educational workshops. The ranch produces beautifully dyed wool and fiber for craft, such as yarn for knitting and raw fiber for spinning or felting. The ranch is open daily by appointment at 35179 Riverside Dr.

Bird Watching – Late winter and spring are a good time to get out and see the many kinds of birds that call the Willamette Valley home. Click here and here to find some great places to enjoy the growing pastime of bird watching.

Eats and treats – If you are planning to get out and about, plan to take your meals with you. Albany has several top-notch eateries who can outfit you with the perfect-take-out meal. For up-to-date information on restaurants for dine in, outdoor seating or takeout orders, go to the Albany Visitors Association website and click the Travel Alerts and Current Happenings bar at the top of the page.

Enjoy the freedom of biking around Albany

The writer of this post is Hasso Hering, former editor of the Albany Democrat-Herald, who enjoys bicycling almost daily. His observations about the cityPhoto of author Hasso Hering wearing bike helmet and surrounding area come from the seat of his own bike and can be read about in his blog at hh-today.com.

So, you want to see Albany from the seat of a bicycle? Great idea, and it’s easy to do. Here are some suggestions for short rides you and your family might try once you get the bikes out of the garage and dust them off.

The easiest way to get started is to pick a neighborhood and cruise on the residential streets. They have very little traffic, especially on weekends. You might start with your own neighborhood just to get used to riding on city streets, watching for cars and for people crossing the street, and staying aware of your surroundings while pedaling.

Once you tire of that (pun intended), pick another neighborhood to explore. The challenge then is how to get there, which usually means taking one or more busy streets where car traffic moves pretty fast. But maybe you can load the bikes on top of the car and drive there, park and then spend half an hour riding around.

Photo of woman riding trike with dog along river path in summerOr you can try this:

— Follow the Dave Clark Clark Riverside Path from Monteith Park east away from downtown. It will take you past the Wheelhouse office building and the DeLuxe Brewing Company to the Willamette Neighborhood, Bowman Park and, if you keep going on the dirt trail past Bowman, to Simpson Park. Going there and back takes maybe 20 minutes.

— You can extend the Clark Path route by making the rounds of the Talking Water Gardens. The entrance is off the Simpson Park parking lot. It helps to have fat tires, like on a mountain bike, because the paths are surfaced with gravel or decomposed granite, and some are hard to ride because they’re covered with wood chips. But the chance at seeing wildlife, from turtles to eagles, is worth it.

— Follow the Perwinkle Bike Path from Oak Street near Lowe’s, going south to Grand Prairie Park and back. The only tricky part is where the path stops on one side of Queen Avenue and picks up on the other side of the Queen-Geary Street intersection. The best way to cross, especially with kids, is to walk your bikes to the intersection and get across with the help of the signal.

If you want to get out of the city limits at least for a short distance:

— Head west out Queen Avenue from West Albany High School and turn right at Riverside Drive. Cross the old Oregon Electric rail line on Riverside, then turn right on Bryant Drive. Pretty soon this turns into Bryant Way and leads back into Albany. A short climb up the Third Avenue bridge across the Calapooia River puts you back downtown.

There are plenty of alternatives, some a little longer.

When I have the time, I sometimes ride north out of town on Salem Avenue and tour the new residential sections of formerly rural Millersburg. Or I duck under the freeway to take Murder Creek Road to Kamph Road, turn right on Scravel Hill and return to Albany on Knox Butte Road. The climbs up Murder Creek and later Scravel Hill add a little exercise to this ride.

For seeing a bit of nature, it’s fun to take a mountain bike down the Takena Landing Trail on the north side of the Willamette, starting at Takena Landing Park, or the Simpson Trail on the south side, starting at Simpson Park and First Lake. Or there’s the Oak Creek Trail off 53rd Avenue in South Albany. But don’t try the trails unless it’s been dry for a few weeks. Wet weather turns some sections into bogs.

On the paths and trails, you’re going to encounter walkers, many with dogs on long leads or no leashes at all. Go slow and be ready to stop. Caution and courtesy are two C’s the trails demand.

People on bikes don’t necessarily need suggestions on where to ride. If you don’t already know from your own experience, being on a bike is freedom itself. And freedom means you can go anywhere you like. (hh)

Show your love all month in Albany

Show your love and treat your special someone to the delicious food and cocktails Albany restaurants and bistros have to offer, not just for Valentine’s Day, but all month long. And don’t forget to cap the night with an exciting one-of-a-kind gift you discovered while browsing the city’s fascinating downtown shops.

Photo of dessert cake from Sweet Red Bistro, Albany ORA few of Albany’s restaurants are offering Valentine’s Day packages, whether eating in responsibly spaced comfort or getting take-out, and that includes drinks-to-go. Whatever your plans for dining, be sure to call ahead to see if the deals are still available, as many spaces have been filling up fast. 

And check the restaurant section of our COVID-19 page for up-to-date information and links directly to their social media and websites for information about reopening indoor dining areas. 

Here are some exciting suggestions for you and your loved ones to enjoy:

DINNER AND DRINKS

Frankie’s Restaurant: Frankie’s is currently open for outdoor seating in its spacious patio tent with heaters, or call ahead for take-out (and make it even more memorable with a delicious craft cocktail drink kit to go!). 541-248-3671. Treat yourself to fresh-cut ribeye steaks, pork belly fries, Frankie’s famous Bistro Burger or many other dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients this farm-to-table restaurant has to offer. 

Sweet Red Bistro: Sweet Red is offering a Valentine’s Day special, a tantalizing dinner for two for $99. Flying solo? Indulge yourself with a Lonely Hearts Dinner for One at $59. The restaurant will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 12-14, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for outdoor dining and take out. Due to limited seating, each night will have two seatings for dinner – 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Reservations for outdoor dining and takeout are required and will be accepted through Messenger on the Sweet Red Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/sweetredbistro. If the restaurant gets the OK to open for indoor dining, it will update its available reservations, so stay tuned!

Novak’s Hungarian Restaurant: The famed Albany restaurant is offering a Sweetheart Special: a five-course dinner for two for $60 which includes soup, salad, a spinach/artichoke dip appetizer, a Chicken Cordon Bleu entrée and a chocolate box to share. Add a bottle of house red or white wine for $25. Call ahead now, 541-967-9488, and pick up on Saturday, Feb. 13, between 1 and 3 p.m. In case of changes for indoor dining check out Novak’s Facebook page for current information.

Sybaris Bistro: The restaurant, which is still doing carry-out meals only, offers a Valentine’s Day special to go like none other, as featured in Wine Press Magazine. Call for availability, this one is selling out fast. Chef Matt Bennett has planned a special Valentine’s menu, which includes an antipaso to appetizer, first course of smoked pheasant and wild mushroom soup, and main course of surf and turf Wellington: beef tenderloin, Maine lobster and spinach in puff pastry, with a silky Maine lobster sauce. Dessert is Valrhona chocolate raspberry tart with raspberry whipped cream. Click here for the current menu and other information. To enjoy a dinner from Sybaris, please call 541-928-8157 to place your orders between the hours of 11 AM and 4:15 PM, Tuesday through Saturday. Pickup times begin at 4:45 and end at 7 p.m. The restaurant plans to open for limited inside seating beginning Tuesday, Feb. 16.

SHOPPING

The Pix Theatre: Sweets for your sweet! The Pix is holding a curbside event featuring their to-die-for truffle chocolates, while supplies last. Click here to place your order, then pick them up between 2 and 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11. All sales need to be made in advance.

Vintage Roost: The shop will be filled to the brim with sweet and beautiful gifts for your special someone. Find antiques and collectibles, handmade gifts with a vintage charm, amazingly decorated cookies, Belgian chocolate, delicious baked goods, boxwood heart-shaped wreaths, and much more. Open Fridays and Saturdays only from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through February 13. Masks are required and there will be a limited capacity allowed in the shop at one time. Hot cocoa will be served outside while you wait.

Margin Coffee: Browse some amazing locally made goods while waiting for your tasty drink at a special Valentine’s Day makers market at the cozy coffee house between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13. Local craft vendors include Bushel & A Peck, natural skin care; Bond & Bevel, leather goods; Good Good Wood, custom tables; De La Lune, candles; and much more!

Crow’s Foot Gallery: Want to give something a little different for Valentine’s this year? The Crow’s Foot has what you need: Sculpture, jewelry, paintings, prints and a variety of eclectic items made from everything from concrete to skateboards. While there, enjoy the memorial exhibit celebrating the creative life of Mio Streitberger. 

Gallery Calapooia: Find a one-of-a-kind heart-shaped gift at the gallery, which houses beautiful art and crafted pieces from local artists and artisans. 

Linn County Arts Guild: Heart-shaped eggs, hand-crafted Valentine’s Day cards and other wonderful items await visitors to the gallery.

OTHER FUN

Albany Historic Carousel & Museum: The Carousel staff and volunteers are so excited to officially welcome you inside for the first time in 2021! Doors open at 11 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 12, and they’ll be open all weekend 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Take a romantic ride, take a tour, have lunch and shop the gift shop!

Little Loves Lunchbox Ride: 1 to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13. Spread the love on this 1.5-hour ride from Santiam Excursion Trains This is great for the whole family, and includes lunch (sandwich, chips, cookie) as you ride the rails. A bar car is available that has soda, water, coffee, beer, wine and mixed drinks for purchase. The ride will go on rain or shine, so dress for the weather. For reservations and other information, click here.

Valentine’s Dinner Ride: Santiam Excursion Trains, 6 to 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13. Grab your date, some friends or make some new ones on this 2.5-hour, 21-and-over dinner train ride. Tickets include a full dinner catered by Honeybrine Catering. For reservations and other info, click here.

 

Enjoy waterfalls to clear quarantine cobwebs

Getting outside is more important than ever in this locked-down Covid-19 world, and a trip to see the waterfalls at McDowell Creek Park is a perfect way to clear out the quarantine cobwebs.

Tucked away in the foothills of the Cascade Range about 16 miles east of Lebanon, the park boasts three to four miles of trails that take you past three beautiful waterfalls and a couple of cascades that will be quite prominent this time of year.

McDowell Creek is a 110-acre day-use park and is part of the Linn County Parks system. There is no fee. The park offers picnicking amenities, so pack a lunch or get take-out from your favorite restaurant. Click here for a list of restaurants and their current status under Covid-19 restrictions. Some fishing is allowed from late May into October. Check the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife website for regulations and open seasons.

Dogs are allowed on leashes.

To get there from Albany, head east on Highway 20 toward Lebanon. In Lebanon, take a left onto East Grant Street, which eventually turns into Brewster Road, and continue until you cross the Santiam River. Then take a right onto Berlin Road and follow that until you come to McDowell Creek Drive. Take a left onto McDowell Creek Drive and that will take you right to the park.

The trails offer easy to moderate hiking and are set up in a series of loops that can be taken for easier, shorter jaunts or longer excursions through lush green woodlands. The most popular is a 1.6-mile loop that takes you past the most impressive falls, Royal Terrace and Majestic Falls. For a map and current conditions and comments about the park, click here.

A series of bridges and viewing decks help you traverse the terrain a get beautiful vistas of the falls. Majestic Falls and Royal Terrace have the greatest amount of stone stairs and wooden viewing platforms that can be slippery when wet, so be cautious.

You can hit the trails at access points through each of the three parking lots – lower, middle and upper. The bottom lot connects to Lower McDowell Creek Falls easily, and Royal Terrace with a little more effort. Access to Royal Terrace is the longest hike. Majestic Falls is accessible from the upper parking lot through a steep staircase to get to the top of the falls. Or take the trail from the lower lot and hike all the way up.

The falls all should have heavy flow right now. Majestic Falls drops 35 feet, while Royal Terrace falls two levels, first to a small pool and then the rest of the way for a total of 119 feet.

More Adventures

If you are looking for a little more of a challenge, Linn County has many waterfalls that are tucked away among its thousands of square miles of forest land. A website called the Northwest Waterfall Survey has a list of waterfalls in Oregon and breaks that down by county. Here is the list for Linn County.

The list provides a description of the falls and how to get there. Some are visible from the road, others will require a hike. Most are not spectacular – some might even be seasonal cascades – so read descriptions carefully before committing your time and effort.

Please use caution this time of year. Directions can sometimes be confusing, so it is best to be prepared in case you get lost and have to spend the night. Take along gear to stay warm and plenty of drinking water. Don’t rely on GPS, as its navigation abilities can be blocked due to loss of signal in the mountains.

More online

If you want to whet your appetite before heading out, click here for photographs and a video of McDowell Creek Park by journalist and author Grant McOmie as part of his TV show, Grant’s Getaways. It’s dated 2016, but little has changed at the park.

Covid restrictions

Please observe all Covid-19 restrictions when visiting the park. Keep a mask handy as the spot is quite popular and you are likely to run into more people out and about enjoying the scenery and solitude.

####

Top photo by Gary Thurman

Bottom photo by Katelynn LaGrone

Wintertime still a good time to fish

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean the fish aren’t biting.

Steelhead and salmon abound in several rivers in the area, including the North and South Santiam, the mainstem of the Santiam, and a little farther away in the Alsea and Siletz rivers, and many others.

But if you just want to get away for the day, or just an afternoon with the kids, the mid-Willamette Valley is full of places to go fishing for trout, and some of the best are right here in Albany.

Mitch Smith, owner of Two Rivers Fly Shop in Historic Downtown Albany, says many local waters have been stocked with rainbow trout, some of which tip the scales at several pounds.

“Locally, the state is stocking the heck out of Timber-Linn Lake,” Smith said, adding that a couple of weeks ago a man came into his shop who had caught a 9-pound rainbow there. “The state also plants those brooders and they have put some big ones in there.”

Along with the normal planting of legal keeper-sized fish (8-inch minimum), the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife plants a few large brood fish – used to collect eggs for spawning more trout at hatcheries – to give the public a shot at landing “the big one.”

Albany has a fine selection of easily accessible lakes to fish, making it a perfect place to take the kids, particularly Timber-Linn and Waverly Lakes, which were planted recently. The ODFW has taken down its stocking schedule to keep people from congregating at any one place due to Covid-19 restrictions but is releasing some details about local stocking after the fact. For the latest information about fishing in the Willamette Zone, go to https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/willamette-zone.

Smith said right now a good bet to take fish is with Powerbait fished just off the bottom, or with Wooly Bugger flies in black, brown or olive on a fly rod or fished behind a casting bubble using spinning gear.

If you would like to talk more about fishing, visit Mitch Smith at Two Rivers Fly Shop, 204 1st Ave. SW, in Albany, give him a call at 541-967-9800, or drop him a line at trfs@live.com. The shop is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and Saturday 10 to 4.

To plan your next adventure in Albany, go to albanyvisitors.com.

Photo by Dan Bateman

Holiday events to warm your heart

If you are searching for some holiday spirit amid our current Covid-19 lockdown, look no further. Here is a list of events to warm your hearts and fill your days with joy.

Topping that list are two such events close to home, both physically and virtually.

The first is a YouTube video, done in a physically-distanced Zoom meeting-like fashion, featuring the high school a capella choir group, South Albany Ascend, singing the Christmas classic, “Baby, Please Come Home.” The group is under the direction of choir director Brett DeYoung, and the arrangement was done by Deke Sharon. You can find this fun rendition here.

And if you want to get out of the house to have some fun, enjoy the sight of 26 houses and businesses lit up for the 2020 Night Time Magic Holiday Light Contest and then vote for your favorite! This year’s theme is “Cherished Traditions in a New Light.” Vote by Dec. 20. For more information visit the webpage visit Night Time Magic or Facebook Night Time Magic

If you happened to miss the Christmas Porch Tour, held Sunday, Dec. 3, click on the video to get a little taste of the fun at the Albany Historic Interior Homes Tour Facebook page. Twelve houses and three venues participated by decorating their porches and yards in a bright holiday blast of fun.

Just want to relax in front of a fireplace with a crackling Yule Log but don’t have a fireplace? We’ve got you covered. Click here for a cozy YouTube video that will warm your heart.

Here are a few more events and online links to keep your holiday spirits high:

Willamette Master Chorus Annual Holiday Concert

The Willamette Master Chorus continues the tradition and brings you a festive Holiday Concert, featuring the Trail Band Sextet, members of the well-known Oregon Trail Band and members of the Judson Middle School Choir. Videos of the concerts can be seen here.

Candy Cane Lane 8th Annual Holiday Lights

Dec. 10-31, The Meadow Community, 310 Pitney Ln., Junction City, See Santa, Mrs. Claus and Santa’s Elf as they hand out candy (with COVID-19 safety precautions). Please bring food for the local food bank. Click here for information on the AVA Calendar of Events..

Albany String Orchestra – Virtual Winter Concert

Concert was held Dec. 19. Music includes pieces by Bach and Vivaldi, and a collection of carols and holiday songs that will leave you with a song in your heart and a smile on your face. See the concert here.

Here are more Christmas videos to enjoy (click on the entry):

“Christmas Canon,” Trans-Siberian Orchestra

“12 Days of Christmas,” Pentatonix

“Linus & Lucy,” Vince Guaraldi Trio

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