Be Aware - Bears and cougars are native to this area!
The trailhead is wihin easy walking distance from my home and I live in the third most populous city in the state. Do I need to be worried about this walk in nearby nature?
I live on a 1/3 acre corner lot well within the city's borders. I have seen raccoon, opossum, deer, turkey, and smaller wild animals making themselves temporarily at home in my backyard. But bears and cougars are another matter!
Wild Iris Ridge Park
This 250+ acre park is mostly unimproved with upland prairie and oak habitat and sweeping views in places to the west, south, and east. It's not heavily used and I'm frequently the only visitor in the sections where I walk. I've seen hawks perched in tall trees, an occasional turkey vulture, squirrel and deer, but no sign of bear or cougar. Still, I carry a loud whistle (along with my camera) when walking in the woods.
There are several trails to use when exploring the area. Some are formal and well maintained. Others follow old roads or deer trails. I can choose to walk an energetic thirty minutes up and down a hillside or extend the walk to take a loop trail and easily get my 10,000 steps in. Early spring is a good time to see the wild irises in bloom, but I enjoy communing with nature here year round.
If you're unable to visit, you can "walk" the trail viscerally through this YouTube video.
What to do if you encounter a bear or cougar?
The chances of seeing a bear or cougar on this hike are remote. A bear or cougar prefers to avoid contact with humans. In the rare instance that you do see one, this is what the Ridgeline Trail System brochure recommends:
The vast majority of hikers never see a cougar or bear. However, if you do encounter one, make yourself appear as large as possible, and speak loudly and firmly or shout. If you have children with you, pick them up off the ground, without crouching down or leaning over. Never turn your back or run from a cougar or bear—back away slowly and deliberately, always retaining your aggressive pose and continuing to speak loudly.
There are three access points to the park. The best known and most used place is where Bailey Hill Road intersects with South Bertelsen Road in southwest Eugene. There is a small gravel parking lot available.
The other two access points are at the top of the ridge in a subdivision of higher-end homes. The easier of the two places can be found by following these directions: From west 18th Ave, turn south onto Bailey Hill Road. Turn left on Warren St. and go 1/3 mile; turn right to stay on Warren Street. Turn right on Summit Terrace. Turn right again on Bailey View and follow it to the end.