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.

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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

2020 Christmas Porch Tour

Enjoy the sights and sounds of an old-fashioned holiday celebration in Historic Downtown Albany. The Christmas Porch Tour offers a festive look at a few of our beautiful historic homes decked out in their Christmas best in a self-guided walk or drive-by event bursting with bright, holiday-wrapped fun.

The tour will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13.

A dozen houses will be on this year’s tour and most are within the Monteith Historic District. Albany has more than 800 historic structures within its four nationally registered historic districts. (For more information about the houses on this tour, see the bottom of this blog.)

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, participants are asked to not enter the homes or go onto the porches, to wear masks where appropriate, and enjoy the homes from the sidewalk or the comfort of their vehicles. Because of restrictions, there will be no horse-drawn wagon or trolley rides.

But while restrictions may be in place, there is still plenty of fun to be had.

THE CONTEST

In addition to seeing beautiful homes, participants can take part in a contest for prizes while they are touring, including a large gift basket courtesy of the Monteith Society, and four $25 gift certificates to Downtown Albany businesses. Allform you have to do is download a contest form here or pick up an entry form along with your ticket at the AVA. Then, as you visit each home find a poster associated with each house and write down the Christmas image in the numbered slot that’ matches that location. After filling out the form, return it to the Albany Visitors Association, 110 3rd Ave. S.E., and put it into the mail slot. Contest posters will remain up only during the tour. Deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14. Make sure to have your contact information on the entry from, and winners will be contacted. It’s as simple as that!

GET TICKETS (with a map!)

Where do you get a ticket? Tickets are available for download now by clicking here or at the AVA office beginning at 1 p.m. the day of the tour. (Be sure to print legal size. For convenience, print on both sides on one sheet of paper and fold like a booklet!) There is no cost for the tickets or contest, but participants are strongly urged to make a donation. Funds made from the tour are used by the Monteith Society to help run and maintain the non-profit Monteith House Museum, so give generously! Contact-free donations can be made with your credit or debit card using our online payment option here: ( Please note: you don’t have to have your own Paypal account to use this)

Enter the dollar amount you wish to donate:

$  
Donate

if you prefer, checks can be made payable to the “Monteith Historical Society” and mailed to the AVA, PO Box 965, Albany, Oregon 97321, or other donation arrangements can be made by emailing us.

An added sprinkle of fun this year is that some of the houses are participating in the Night Time Magic Holiday Lights Contest. Take time after the tour to visit the other homes in this contest, then go online to vote for your favorite! Stay tuned for that link!

Other highlights on tour day:

The Monteith House will be lit by candlelight.
The Whitespires Church will be lit for the tour. Check out the star on the side of the building!

MORE ABOUT THE HOUSES

Here is more information about the houses on this year’s Christmas Porch Tour:

  1. Research in Progress
    1930, Cottage
    1535 Takena St. SW
    Homeowner: Elizabeth Anderson

This cozy 1930 cottage is almost entirely original on the interior – from the cast-iron tub in the bathroom, to the potato bin in the kitchen, and the upstairs dressing room.  A double-and-a-half lot allows for ample gardening, and the rose garden in the front is the envy of all who pass by during the summer months. The owner and her daughters are slowly bringing this beauty back to its full potential, with lots of love and patience and elbow grease. The family’s nutcracker collection and heirloom ornaments are visible through the front window, as is the grand piano inherited from the owner’s great-grandmother. 

  1. Hulin House
    1879, French Second Empire
    804 Broadalbin St. SW
    Jeff Blackford & Jim Jansen

Dr. Hulin used this house as his residence and place of work, sharing part of it as his office with Dr Aiken. Note the two front doors: the door on the right was where Dr. Hulin and Dr. Aiken had their medical practice. The homeowners have heard stories of emergency surgery in the office (now the dining room) caused by a hit-and-run with a horse-drawn carriage.

In the early 1910s to 1920s a large addition was added, and again in the 40s, and the house was subdivided into two addresses. One upstairs (8th Ave) and one downstairs (Broadalbin). Sometime during the late 70s to 80s, the owner reconnected the home to make it one address and added the garage and connected the garage and the house with a breezeway.

Over the last four years, Jeff and Jim have been restoring the house back to the historic  beauty that it once was, both inside and out, with period lighting, historic furniture, and even throwing elaborate holiday events dressed in traditional Holiday attire.

  1. Research in Progress
    c. 1920, Rural Vernacular/Craftsman-Bungalow
    2020 17th Ave. SW

    Homeowners: Keith Kolkow & Jerrod Taylor

The home first appears in tax records in 1920, though the homeowners suspect it is much older. All the original interior walls were wooden shiplap, which is irregular for the region (some have been preserved and/or replaced). It is suspected the house was originally a farmhand’s home on the original area homestead and was just a box home with four rooms.

Multiple additions and alterations were made to the home over the years, making it the Craftsman style you see today. The front porch, corbels and second-floor window are not original. On the backside of the house there was also a porch which is now enclosed and acts as a dining room with a “back staircase” to the second floor.

Fun fact: the plumbing once had every kind of pipe since indoor plumbing began including, clay, copper, galvanized and PVC!

  1. Research in Progress
    1919, Craftsman Bungalow
    821 7th Ave. SW
    Homeowners: Neva & Eric Anderson

The Anderson Family purchased the 1919 Bungalow in 2017, with the intent to call it home for several years to come. With that in mind, the family began restoration and age-appropriate upgrades, as the home had been neglected for several years. Upon renovation, the homeowners vowed to keep the bungalow’s original charm with its historic wood trim, clawfoot tub, hardwood floors, single pane windows, brick fireplace and covered front porch. The restoration was completed by the Anderson family themselves, in which the process lasted a long and relentless year-and-a-half. The bungalow was deemed a ‘kit’ house back in the early 1900’s, as the house came packaged as a kit, and was shipped in a train box car, likely from Sears & Roebuck. Homeowners at the time could thumb through a catalog, pick out their home kit and it would then be shipped to them via train. It was then up to the homeowner to assemble the home themselves or seek local hires for support.  Thus, over 100 years later, the windows of the 1919 bungalow still shake when local trains make their way through Albany on their journey north, just as it did in 1919 when it was first built.

  1. Briggs House
    1874, Colonial
    606 5th Ave SW

    Homeowners: Sierra Rawson & Jose Gomez

The Briggs house is a 2.5 story home with a basement. There is a notable architectural hood over the front porch. Neighbors lovingly refer to it as the “eyebrow.” Historical information states that the Briggs House was originally built as a Gothic Revival but was Colonialized after the turn of the century. During a renovation, a Gothic window was discovered on the west side of the upper story. The Gothic window sits in the living room today as part of the decor of the home.

  1. Barrett House
    1909, Transitional Box
    637 5th Ave. SW

    Homeowners: Jody & Randy Kruse
  2. Barrett was a Linn County Judge who built the home in 1909 and his family lived in the house until 2017, when his daughter Zella Mae Packard passed away. The home is still in its original style – the homeowners have the architectural plans – and it was recently given a renovation this past year highlighting all its details. The Kruse’s are a three-generation family who are enjoying the livability of this wonderful home in the Monteith Historic District. Homeowners Jody and Randy invite tour-goers to notice decorations through the windows of the home, as they have worked hard to make the inside festive as well.
  1. Cougill House
    1903, Queen Anne/Colonial Revival
    803 5th Ave SW

    Homeowners: Suzette & John Boydston

The Boydstons are just the fourth owners of this home. Before purchasing the Cougill House, the homeowners would walk past the house with their then-small children, and felt it needed love. In the years since moving in, their 9-foot Christmas tree is always placed in the parlour next to the stairs, and decorated with ornaments collected over many years, some made by the Boydston children over 20 years ago.

  1. Merrill House
    c. 1906, Queen Anne
    802 5th Ave. SW

    Homeowners: Marilyn & Bob Hill

Much of the interior woodwork and architectural features remain in this wonderful home, including the original picture moldings and plate rail, oriel windows in the parlor and casement windows in the living room that retain the wavy vintage glass. Pocket doors separate the parlor and living room, and the home has two sets of stairs. Marilyn’s extensive nutcracker collection was started in 1970, and the family’s tree features several Hallmark house and baby shoe ornaments collected over several years. The icebox and buffet in the dining room belonged to Marilyn’s grandmother.

  1. Hayes House
    c. 1887/1902, Gothic Revival w/Bungalow Porch
    806 5th Ave. SW

    Homeowners: Deborah & Toby Blasquez

Research is not conclusive, but it is believed this late 1860s or early 1870s Carpenter Gothic-style home was moved one block from Sixth Avenue. Perry Spink, an 1852 Oregon Pioneer from New York state, settled in Albany in 1857. He was a successful trucking and wood-lot business owner and built the home for his wife, Rebecca Jane, and their children.

Rebecca Jane died in 1872 and Spink married Mary Armstrong. Spink built a new and vastly larger octangular home for his second wife on the corner of Sixth and Maple, and it is thought he moved this home to its current location.

When it was moved, the home stood higher on a new above-ground basement to allow for a sawdust-burning furnace. The original home was heated by three interior woodstoves. In addition, the east-facing side porch was enclosed to make room for an indoor bathroom. Electricity was added at that time, but the large porch pillars were added much later when the home was owned by a Linn County surveyor and are from the original Linn County Courthouse.

Notable former residents of the home include Stanford-educated Professor T.A. Hayes, who was superintendent of the Albany Schools, and the Franz Pfeiffer family.  Franz was the son of the Revere House (hotel) owners and he owned a downtown tobacco and confectionary store. The home fell into disrepair until the 1970s, when two Albany families – the Vetters and the Popes – were able to save the home.

This home with three porches features leaded glass windows facing north, original doors and hardware (including the second-floor gothic door) and many rooms with original flooring. There is an intriguing second-floor landing that looks into the large country kitchen. The Carpenter Gothic style is a more modest style than homes built later in the nineteenth century and certainly this home has had many additions and changes. But it retains its original charm and warmth by owners who have lovingly improved it over the years. 

  1. Thompson House
    c. 1885, Rural Vernacular
    839 5th Ave. SW
    Stephanie Newton & Scott Azorr

A Rural Vernacular Farmhouse-style home built in 1885, the Thompson House also has Eastlake and Queen Anne architectural elements.  It retains the original built-ins in the dining room and early 1900s light fixtures in the living room, and the large front porch sports an impressive porch swing. The furnishings reflect Stephanie’s eclectic style with eco-friendly second-hand décor. Also of interest is the acid-etched image of a woman in a pane of glass and the original deed and tax records to the home.

  1. Conner House
    1859, Colonial Revival
    914 5th Ave SW

    Homeowners: Kim & Erik Christensen

The Connor House was built in 1859 by John Conner, the first banker in Albany, and who also was one of the founders of Albany College (which later moved to Portland and became Lewis & Clark College). The house boasted a 300-foot hitching post and livery stable, being a social spot for much of Albany.

The Connor house was extensively remodeled in 1900. This is when it went from the farm style to a Colonial Revival, which was in fashion for the time.

Erik and Kimberly Christensen have owned the Conner house past 13 years, after relocating to Albany from Seattle. Having family in the antique business, furnishings are in the traditional theme and compliment the house throughout. The home boasts several collections of: vintage china and stemware; artwork; sporting equipment from days gone by; and an extensive collection of antique and vintage holiday decorations collected through Erik and Kimberly’s 30-plus years together.

Areas of interest in the Home include:

  • The house foundation was raised up in 1900, when the sawdust-burning furnace was installed. The basement has full-size windows and currently accommodates an updated space to include a “man cave,” a 380-bottle wine cellar, shop, laundry room, paint and moldings room, firewood storage, doggy lounge and a gift wrapping station.
  • Seth French of French’s Jewelers in downtown Albany owned the house for over 25 years. In 1940, Seth tore down a wing on the house to build the first two-car attached garage in Albany. The original dark wood garage doors from the house have been incorporated in the home’s basement, serving as a hallway to the cellar today.
  • The house has been updated throughout the years with the addition of updated plumbing, automatic sprinklers, electrical, and central gas heat and air-conditioning. Many of the original windows have been restored as well. The double hung windows on the third floor provide great ventilation and a good view of the summer gardens. The balcony over the front porch was lovingly repaired and the columns reproduced by Erik Christensen with the help of a family friend.
  1. Research in Progress
    c. 1915, Craftsman Bungalow
    924 5th Ave. SW
    Homeowners: Joyce & Kenny Drake

This attractive home was built around 1915 to 1920, where a livery stable once stood. A rusted horseshoe was unearthed by the family a few years back when digging in the backyard. The home was bought as a kit house for the daughter of the family next door, who lived in what is now the Conner House, which is also on this tour. Unfortunately, all records from the time of the house’s beginnings were lost. The home has had a couple owners over the years and the Drakes purchased it in 1997 from former Olympian and Linn County Parks Director Dyrol Burleson. The Drakes had a new porch installed a couple of years ago but other than that the house is mostly original.

 

Plan to attend Veterans Day events

Albany is known for honoring its veterans in a big way, and this year will be no exception, thanks to the hard work of several individuals, organizations and businesses.

Photo of two veterans.Despite the canceling of Albany’s nationally recognized Veterans Day Parade due to Covid-19 restrictions, several other wonderful events will be held including a reverse version of the parade and a memorial service that can be attended in person or watched online.

Here are seven ways Albany is honoring our veterans you won’t want to miss for Veterans Day:

National Guard Flyover. Look up as an F-15 from the Oregon Air National Guard takes a pass over Albany on November 11, 11:15 a.m.

Reverse Veterans Day Parade: 10 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, Nov. 11, Mid-Willamette Valley YMCA. Enjoy the fun of seeing floats from the comfort of your car in this upside-down version of the Veterans Day Parade, sponsored by the YMCA, Southpaws Pizza and Burcham’s Metals. Several floats will be on display in the YMCA parking lot. Enter from 34th Avenue and travel through the lot before exiting onto Pacific Boulevard. Enjoy the sounds of music provided by KRKT and bring along some non-perishable food items to drop off at the float sponsored by Christmas Storybook Land and Fish of Albany. The donations will be given to Fish for its food pantry.

So far, those participating in the reverse parade are Burcham’s Metals, Beaver State Corvette Club, Linn-Benton Community College, Christmas Storybook Land, Forslund Crane Service, Honor Flight, the Oregon National Guard, Albany Aquatics Association, KRKT, Linn County Sheriff’s Department, Greenberg Solar Power, Glenn Lamora, Lawrence Fisher and Fish of Albany.

Providing refreshments to veterans will be Cork’s Donuts, The Brim Coffee Co., Dutch Bros and Benny’s Donuts.

For more information call the YMCA at 541-926-4488. To register a business for the reverse parade call 541-981-7502.

Veterans Day Memorial Service: 11 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 11, Timber-Linn Memorial Park. The ceremony will include the laying of two wreaths, a rifle salute, a bugler sounding Taps and several speakers, including Kellie Odegaard, Vice President of Operations and Veterans’ Services at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans Home in Lebanon.

Covid-19 restrictions limit the number of people who can attend the event at 100, therefore the ceremony will be filmed and available on the City of Albany’s YouTube Channel or through the city’s social media after the event. Randy Martinak of the Linn County Veterans Memorial Association said the public is welcome to attend, but to please wear masks, maintain physical distancing and to not block cameras filming the service.

Virtual Annual Veterans Concert: 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14 and Sunday, Nov. 15. Enjoy a virtual feast of song each day from the Willamette Master Chorus at its website. If you happen to miss the concerts, they will be available on the group’s YouTube channel through its website.

Other Veterans Day activities and Information:

Veteran of the Year: This year’s Veteran of the Year is Peter Butler of Lebanon. Butler is an Air Force veteran, having served with the 724th Air Force Band. He is a member of several veterans’ organizations, including serving as a bugler with the Post 51 American Legion Honor Guard.

Bricks: On Saturday morning, Nov. 7, members of the Linn County Veterans Memorial Association will help several families place bricks with the names of veterans into the Sentry Wall. One of those bricks will be for Henry Schauer, a World War II Medal of Honor winner. Schauer was awarded the medal for action in Italy in 1944 while with the 3rd Infantry Division.

Veterans Banners:  Banners with images of Albany-area veterans are being hung in the downtown area, thanks to a collaboration between the Albany Rotary Club and the Greater Albany Rotary Club. The first batch of 30 went up on Wednesday along 1st and 2nd Avenues east of Lyon Street. The next batch of 40 banners is scheduled for hanging next week along Lyon and Ellsworth streets.

Uniforms on display: Several businesses in downtown Albany are again displaying military uniforms from different eras and different campaigns, each with a little history about them. The uniforms are sponsored by individuals and provided by the VFW 661 – Uniform Display Museum. The displays will be up Nov. 10-16. A list of uniform locations is available on the Albany Downtown Association website and Facebook event pages.

Writers have kind words for Albany

We love to hear nice things about our community and share what others have to say about their visit here. Lately we’ve had a few shout-outs from new friends and old. Listen to what they have to say about some of our favorite local places. 

Photo of street in Historic Downtown Albany, OR. with flowers.June Russell-Chamberlin contacted us to borrow a few photos to go along with her article for playstayeat.com opening her story with these kind words:

“City culture, small-town charm and outdoor adventure come together in the Willamette Valley and create a variety of fun things to do. With forests and waterways just a short drive from almost any town, it’s no surprise that residents enthusiastically embrace outdoor recreation.” Read more: https://playstayeat.com/willamette-valley-south-overview/

206 ½ Historic Hotel was one of her stops. “Once lodging for wives of GIs at Camp Adair during World War II, today the private bedrooms and communal spaces of the 206 ½ Historic Hotel in downtown Albany, Oregon, draw guests who delight in connecting with other travelers.” Read more: https://playstayeat.com/willamette-valley-south-stay/

The temptation is real! “In addition to carrying breakfast and lunch classics, Brick & Mortar Cafe tempts diners with twists on traditional breakfast fare. Enjoy classic eggs benedict, or savor eggs benedict topped with Oregon bay shrimp, spinach and dill Hollandaise sauce.” Read more: https://playstayeat.com/willamette-valley-south-eat/

Here’s what she had to say about Sweet Red Bistro: “Exposed brick, glossy dark wood and fanciful chandeliers set the stage for cocktails and romantic dinners at Sweet Red Bistro in downtown Albany, Oregon. Start the evening with tapas or the indulgent cheese and charcuterie board and a wine tasting.” Read more: https://playstayeat.com/willamette-valley-south-eat/

Her overall sentiment depicts Albany as a delightful town with nearby adventures and well worth making a regular stop. 

“Known as ‘The Gem of the Willamette Valley,’ Albany, Oregon, is in the heart of the Southern Willamette Valley’s fertile farmland. Locals know how to make the most of the local bounty with farm-to-table cuisine and award-winning craft beverages, including beer, wine, artisan cider and distilleries.” Read more: https://playstayeat.com/willamette-valley-south-overview/#FarmtoTable_Food,_History_Craft_Beverages_in_Albany

We asked our friends at NW Travel and Life to put together a few inspirational words about Albany for the season. Veronika Patrashko was inspired by the location, color, history and bounty our area has to offer. She summed up her first impression in such an endearing way: “Pack a getaway full of history, family fun and wine country adventures in one of the Northwest’s best-kept secrets: Albany, Oregon. Whether you’re planning an overnight, a long weekend or a full vacation, this historic destination in the hub of wine country has you covered. Located just over an hour from Portland, Albany sits center stage for an easy-access change of pace.” Read more: https://nwtravelmag.com/discover-oregons-best-kept-secrets-in-albany/

Next, Veronika put together a lovely itinerary that is easy to follow, taking advantage of roads less traveled, wide open spaces and natural beauty any time of year but particularly colorful in the fall. Read more: https://nwtravelmag.com/celebrate-fall-in-albany-oregon/

Travel Oregon’s Jen Anderson tempts her audience with a must-see list of Oregon’s Food Trail stops including Albany’s own Frankie’s restaurant in her article titled: Cozy Cool-Weather Patios for Outdoor Dining Willamette Valley section. “Dine on excellent farm-to-table fare like Willapa Bay fried oysters, crispy pork-belly fries and vegan red-curry tofu on the heated patio at Frankie’s in Albany.”
https://traveloregon.com/things-to-do/eat-drink/restaurants/cozy-cool-weather-patios-for-outdoor-dining/

We are thrilled to have these writers share their perspectives and hope you will take their advice and come by the next time you’re up for a visit. 

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