Bush's Pasture Park
From Willamette University, Bush's Pasture Park (90.5 acres) is just a 2 block walk from campus while passing the Salem Hospital. Bush is a public park that is highly utilized by the Willamette community. Professors take their classes out there to conduct scientific surveys or perform ecological restoration projects; students take a break from studying to exercise in the park or have a picnic; and four Willamette University sports call the park home: Baseball—Spec Keene Stadium; Football—McCulloch Stadium; and Track and Field—Charles Bowles Track. Cross Country uses the entire park for training and for its home meets, including the Charles Bowles Invitational, the largest collegiate-only cross country meet in the west. The bark trail around the perimeter of the park is approximately 1.5 miles, making it a great place for Bearcat runners to do an easy run or a workout. Races in Bush are ideal for the spectator as well as for the runners as there are many vantage points to cheer from, and it’s a fast, beautiful course. From the starting line in an open field, the racers run past the park’s public tennis courts, around the stadium, up the soap box derby hill, and continue to wind through the various bark and concrete paths of the park to a fast finish on the track.
Charles Bowles Track
Charles Bowles Track, named in honor of the late Willamette University Track and Field/Cross Country coach, is situated within McCulloch Stadium and is the home of the Willamette University Track and Field Program. The track has facilities for all track and field events, except for the hammer, which is thrown about 15 minutes away. With plenty of space in the stadium for spectators, the Charles Bowles Track/McCulloch Stadium combination is a great venue for the high-caliber meets that Willamette hosts.
Minto Brown Island Park
Bearcat runners love the fact that, although Willamette is located in the heart of Salem, it takes just 5 minutes to hit the trail down by the Willamette River that leads to Minto-Brown Island Park. The Willamette River makes up one of the borders of the park and is the reason for “island” being part of the park’s name. When winter rains come, often times the river overflows its banks and pours out into the park, turning it into an island! The park itself, just about two miles from the track, is the perfect place for long runs and workouts. While many of the 20 miles of paths are paved, a bit of exploration and adventure can lead to the soft surfaces of bark paths that runners crave. This 900-acre park doubles as a Wildlife Refuge, so keep your eyes peeled for great blue herons and beavers. The trails wind through orchards, fields, forests and a dog park. Even when the parking lots are full, for those seeking seclusion, Minto-Brown is the place to go. In the front of the park, you’ll find plenty of other runners, walkers and bikers, but once you delve into the deeper trails, it feels like you have the place to yourself!