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Stretch your legs at Alder Creek Community Forest

Editor's Note: Day Trippin' is a recurring feature that gives readers a chance to play tour guide and tell us about a nearby getaway.

If you find yourself traveling up Interstate 5 this summer and need a spot to stop and stretch your legs, you might consider Alder Creek Community Forest. It has lots of overhead tree cover that will help keep you cool on these warm summer days as you wander around several looping trails.

To get there, take exit 98, and just five minutes west of I-5 on Canyonville-Riddle Road you will find an intricate and well maintained trail system designed for education and exploration.

The Alder Creek forest website says its mission is to provide a “safe place for exploring the outdoors, and for lifelong learning and dialogue to address challenges in sustaining forests, watersheds and communities.” The forest hosts educational seminars and group hikes for the community and local schools, but it is also open for public use.

The forest covers 78 acres and includes more than 3.5 miles of hiking trails. There is also excellent signage so you won’t get lost along the way. The trails all intertwine, which provides plenty of options depending on how much time you plan to spend. You can choose to walk the entire outer rim of the forest, cut through the middle, go for a quick out-and-back walk, or just wander around exploring.

Each trail is unique and leads up to a summit, down to a stream or over a bridge. The forest features beautiful madrone trees, intricate mushrooms, salamanders, snails and frogs. Half the fun in this hike is directing your attention toward what is often a damp and mossy surface teaming with life. You never know what little critter will pop up next.

Stumps are also a great place to investigate, as they are covered in moss and are home to small mushrooms, frogs, snails and lizards. This is a great trail system for families and children, because it’s not very strenuous and provides plenty of tidbits of nature to explore.

With its proximity to I-5, it's an easy place to pull over for a break when your children keep asking “are we there yet?” It is a very leisurely hiking spot and valuable for its ability to provide an education about the various trees, animals and forest conservation.

David Clewett lives in Bend.

Stretch your legs at Alder Creek Community Forest
Alder Creek Children's Forest is five minutes off Interstate 5's exit 98. Photo by David Clewett