Places to Picnic in Corvallis, Philomath, Albany

The Picnic Season is upon us. Whether you want to sit on a blanket in the sun or find a table in a shelter, to bring your kids or bring your pup, the Corvallis area offers several nice parks to choose from with picnic benches, charcoal grills, paddle boats, and possibly best of all, restrooms.  

Corvallis 

In the south part of town, Avery Park with its picnic sheltersFire Side, Lions, Maple Grove, Thompson, and Townsend — is a popular spot. The shelters need to be reserved for a fee, and alcohol or loud music permits can be obtained from the Parks and Recreation office. Check out the details on their website. 

Pioneer Park, separated by Marys River from Avery Park, is a great place to throw a blanket on the ground, and is less formal, smaller, and less crowded most of the time. For baseball enthusiasts there may be a game to watch on the park’s baseball field. Trails with fitness stations are an option for the active types.  

Farther south, across Hwy 99 W, Willamette River Park offers a river view, rafting put-in/take-out points, some benches, restrooms, a frisbee field and the Rotary shelter with a grill — reservations may be needed. From the shelter one may take the path alongside the steep river bank. This northeast leading path bisects Crystal Lake Sports Fields with an asphalt walkway ending at Fisher Lane, and a nearby boat ramp. There are three forest paths springing from the pavement paralleling the main route. The eastern most one leads to a couple of river beaches and quiet spots to park a picnic basket. Off-leash areas along the asphalt path provide a nice option for the four-legged Corvallisites. Learn more at their website. 

Another option is William Finley National Wildlife Refuge. Besides walking paths and bird watching shelter, there are plenty of places to have a picnic on the grass. Dogs, however, are not allowed at this refuge. See more at their website. 

Downtown offers Riverfront Park with fountains, picnic tables, benches, and the always popular restrooms. On Saturday morning, the Farmers’ Market adds the option to buy tasty victuals, making the picnic part of the day even easier. Dogs on leash are welcome.  

In front of the city library, Central Park with its gazebo, large lawns, and benches can serve well for an impromptu picnic. The gazebo, where summer concerts play, can be reserved for events. Do note, however, that dogs are not allowed in Central Park. Learn more at the website. 

In the north part of town, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park by Walnut Avenue is the largest area for recreation. It too has a shelter, Walnut Barn — reservations may be needed. A grill, a restroom, and benches make the place very user-friendly. Diverse landscape and a multitude of paths provide walking and hiking options. Horseshoe pits and badminton turf are also accessible. On leash dogs are welcome everywhere, and the off leash area is a bonus.  

Chepenafa Springs Park in a new subdivision off 29th St. is located to the north of Timberhill Complex. Besides benches and grass, it has a path to the Timberhill Natural Area.   

The west side of Corvallis offers Woodland Meadows by the Corl House with an unfenced dog park. The park is nestled into the corner of Circle Ave. and Witham Hill Dr., and features a few places to sit or to throw a blanket for you and your dog. See more here. 

Bald Hill Natural Area with its paths reaching 53rd St., Reservoir Ave., and NW Oak Creek Rd. culminates at a hilltop with a wooden structure and a picnic bench. Plenty of room for blankets, restroom available, and a nearby off-leash dog area. Learn more here. 

To learn more about fees, Covid rules, and availability of the Corvallis shelters, see the city’s Parks and Recreation website. 

Philomath 

In Philomath, there is Marys River Park off 11th St. with nice natural trails, restrooms, and picnic shelters right off the parking lot. The playground area, a 9-hole disc golf course, horseshoe pits, and an unfenced off-leash dog area complete the setting.  

Albany 

For those who do not mind a drive, Albany has Waverly Lake Park where benches and restrooms are available. Fishing in the lake is allowed, so picnic baskets around the southeast edge of the lake are common. If you want some exercise, there are paddle boats available. 

A short walk north or a car ride towards Front St. from Waverly Park opens to a parking lot with restrooms and benches. The parking lot serves visitors of Talking Waters Gardens  a pond complex with paths and bridges and lots of birds and water mammals. Dogs on leash are welcome.  

Talking Waters Gardens shares the parking lot with Simpson Park which offers a set of paths through the forest by the Willamette River and Second Lake. Picnics can be had in a natural setting, and dogs on leash are welcome.  

Of course, the iconic Montheith Park/Bowman Park complex near the Carousel in downtown Albany is an ideal option all year long.  There is a children’s playground and walking paths along the Calapooia River and a series of summer concerts River Rhythms, and Summer Sounds with big names in music. The shelters, restrooms, and benches as well as river access with small beaches offers something for everyone. Dogs on leash are welcome. See more at their website. 

A Word on Plasticware and Styrofoam 

Plastic litter from takeout orders — including cups, plates, cutlery, and straws — is a prime source of plastic pollution swept into waterways and oceans, where they only partially degrade, harming marine life and affecting human health. Scientists estimate that more than 11 million metric tons of plastic is entering Pacific Ocean every year and by 2050 there may be more plastic than fish in the ocean.   

More than 100 million pieces of plastic utensils are used by Americans every day and can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, leaching harmful substances into the groundwater. When organizing a picnic, let’s consider reusable options: glassware, silverware, and cloth napkins. To learn more about plastic pollution visit https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/guides-eats/ 

By Joanna Rosińska