The McDonald-Dunn Forest is a favorite outdoor recreation spot for area residents, a point buttressed by the most recent recreation survey report. This remarkably thorough report details the characteristics, frequency, and satisfaction of recreationists, as well as the feelings of forest-adjacent households, in an effort to better understand the needs of both users and neighbors.
It is currently estimated that 155,000 visit the forest annually. Due to the growing population of both Corvallis and Oregon State University, these numbers are likely actively increasing; though a solid core of Mac-Dunn enthusiasts have been visiting the forest multiple times a week for several years. The average onsite respondent reported to have been visiting the forest for the past 13.26 years, with a whopping 36 percent reporting being 20 years plus veteran Mac-Dunn recreators. 20 percent of onsite respondents reported visiting the forest for the past 10-19 years. This means, astonishingly, that more than half of the respondents have been visiting for more than a decade. The largest group of onsite visitors, 18 percent, visit three or more times a week, with 17 percent at twice a week. Once a week, and two to three times a month are both at 16 percent. The average duration of a visit is 1.91 hours.
During their visit to the forest, 51 percent of onsite respondents reported hiking, 19 percent were dog walking, 16 percent reported jogging, 12 percent were mountain biking, with one percent horseback riding, nature viewing, and other, respectively. The respondents who checked “other” may be the real heroes of this report, some reporting cat walking, smoking (ILLEGAL: don’t do it), creek play, races, ukulele playing, and scientific research. Dog watching was not mentioned, but remains an outstanding recreational activity in the McDonald-Dunn Forest, as the estimated number of visiting dogs in 2017 was 9,340.
Participants were also given the option to self-rate their skill level in their primary typical recreational activity. 43 percent of mountain bikers identified as intermediate, while 19 percent identified as an expert. Trail runners identified mostly as advanced, with 42 percent, followed by 39 percent at intermediate. 22 percent of dog walkers identified as an expert, with 42 percent as advanced, 29 percent as intermediate, and two percent as beginner dog walkers. Two percent of all Mac-Dunn dog walkers is no small number, so watch out for them and their possibly unpredictable dog-walking. As for hikers, characterized as “other visitors on foot” in the survey, 45 percent modestly reported themselves at an intermediate skill level. 14 percent reported being experts, 33 percent were advanced, with the remaining eight percent reporting as beginners or novices. These figures may indicate that some trails in the forest are challenging to hikers.
Given the available data, the typical onsite McDonald-Dunn recreator is a white, 49-year-old woman with more than one college degree, whose household makes between $75,000 and $100,000. She has been visiting the forest for 13.26 years, visits three times a week, hikes in a group of two, has walked a dog in the forest before, and doesn’t bring any kids.
By Jay Sharpe