At 2,300 acres, Howard Buford Recreation Area is the largest park in the Lane County Park system. Most people in the Eugene/Springfield area refer to it as Mount Pisgah, the name for the Arboretum and the 1518′ peak at the park’s center. It is located just east of Eugene, bordered at the western end by the Coast Fork of the Willamette River. On clear days, the Mount Pisgah summit offers sweeping views of the surrounding hills, valleys, and the Cascade mountains. Eugene and Springfield can be seen from the summit and Jasper, Pleasant Hill, and Goshen communities.
Sharon Mosely and Sean Remington at the Mt. Pisgah summit during race #4 of the Emerald City Trail Series.
Howard Buford has 17 miles of hiking, running, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails. The diverse trails range from easy to difficult and offer a variety of terrain, including wooded hillsides, meadows, and creeks. Trails are single-track, double-track, dirt, and gravel roads. In addition, the park has several microclimates ideal for training in any condition.
Fog on trail #3. Dogs are allowed off-leash in Buford except for trails #1 & #2.
The Arboretum spotlights a collection of native trees and plants. In addition, the nursery has over seven miles of trails and is great for nature walks and bird watching.
In the spring, the park is known for its wildflower displays, with over 300 species of wildflowers blooming throughout the park. The park also hosts several events throughout the year, including guided hikes, educational programs, and a mushroom festival in the fall.
There are three main trailheads, the North and West in the main parking area and the East just off Highway 58 near Pleasant Hill. Each area requires a parking fee.
The trails can be combined to run almost any distance. Two popular loops are the 7.55 outer loop and the five-mile summit loop.
The outer loop can be started from any of the trailheads. To start from the West, take the gravel trail #5, aka Quarry Road, from the Arboretum to a field near the river. Go through a gate and follow the trail to the junction of trail #3, which crosses Buckbush Creek. Turn right on #3 to the trail #6 and #2 junction. Head straight on #2 to start the 2-mile, 700′ climb on the loop. The foothills and valleys of the park’s southeast side come into view on the dirt road path. In .6 miles, the trail turns into trail #4.
Each trail junction is well-marked in Howard Buford.
The rolling trail #4 turns into a winding single track through a thick forest of second-growth evergreens, deciduous oak, and maple trees. On the right are vistas of the McKenzie River valley and Springfield. Stay right at the peak of the ascent to trail #3 to round the park’s North end. To the left is a trail to Swing Hill. Continue on #3 to reach panoramas of the confluence of the Coast and Middle Forks of the Willamette River.
Edwin Reidel and Tia on Swing Hill
Trail #3 descends to the North trailhead. Turn left on Trail #7 up a smaller half-mile rise. Turn right on Trail #17 back to the West trailhead and the start of the loop.
The summit loop starts a the West trailhead near the Arboretum. Take the Summit Trail (trail #1) to the peak of Mt. Pisgah. This challenging 1.4-mile, 945′ climb is the most popular way for hikers to reach the highest point in the park. Continue straight on the gravel trail #6 to descend south for 1.3 miles. Just after the creek crossing is a connector trail, #56. Turn right and then turn right again shortly after on trail #3. Trail #3 climbs back toward the summit for 1.3 miles and 645′ of incline. Watch out for the poison oak on the edges of this rocky single-trail trail. Keep on the trail for another half-mile downhill to the junction of trail #35. Turn left for a steep downhill to the Arboretum and the parking lot.
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