It’s always exciting to discover something new. Most of us will travel far for new experiences. It is even better when you only have to walk out your front door and discover something new about your own area.
Beth and I have been taking a lot of neighborhood walks, and each area of town has something unique about it. One day, we decided to check out a new subdivision off of busy Neff Road in NE Bend.
We walked on the north side of Neff Road. West of Purcell Blvd., the sidewalk disappears. This shot is looking back to the east. There is a sloping hill, and it would not be safe to walk this stretch in the rain or snow.
Cliff Road is the location of Edgecliff subdivision, a much older development, when sidewalks were not required. We walked toward Leehaven, a newer subdivision, where we would again pick up a sidewalk.
Since there is a lot of traffic on Neff, it is difficult for residents of Leehaven to make a left turn across two lanes of traffic. The city did put in a designated crosswalk with a divider in the road, but many cars still speed right through, ignoring the rights of the pedestrians. If one lane stops, you can still have a safe place in the median to make eye contact with drivers going in the other direction.
There is only one entrance into Leehaven, but the road does eventually connect with the Edgecliff Subdivision.
There is a mixture of two story houses and ranch houses. Lots are small. Many non-native tree species such as maple and chokecherry are planted along the road. In another decade, they will be tall enough to provide shade. That will give this neighborhood a different vibe when walking through it. I wonder how this will affect which types of bird species come to visit here in the future.
After connecting to Cliff road, we wanted to see if there was a path connecting edge of the cliff with the lowlands near Ensworth Elementary school. There are no roads connecting these two places because of the steepness of the terrain. We are, after all, on the edge of Pilot Butte.
We spotted a path in between two houses that led north to a group of juniper trees. Indeed, there was a path.
The path, which followed the edge of the basalt cliff, had good views over the park across the street from Ensworth Elementary and beyond to the Northeast.
We got a real unexpected treat on this path. Looking ahead, we saw a buck walking towards us. He was limping a bit, but was not concerned with us walking towards him. It was late November, and the deer are migrating from the mountains down to the lowlands for winter forage. He probably came through Leehaven and saw the landscape change from years’ past.
Winding our way down the path brought us to the park. Across from the park is Ensworth Elementary school. I often work there as a substitute janitor. We passed by some Habitat for Humanity homes that Tom Kitty and I put some sweat equity into about 15 years ago.
This area’s inhabitants are from a lower socioeconomic status. The elementary school has a community medical center attached to it. Being at the school at 3:30 PM when school lets out is an eye opening experience. Students are remote learning now, so the school is quiet. We take the path next to the school connecting Daggett Lane to Full Moon Drive. From there, we walk past some old apartment buildings and walk along the back side of St. Charles Medical Center. Sidewalks disappear for a short time on Purcell Blvd. just past Moonlight drive. We cross busy 27th street on a new marked crosswalk. The whole walk is a little less than four miles in total. It was nice to discover a little bit of country so close to suburbia!
For those of you reading this who live in Central Oregon and would like to do this hike, I would recommend doing it in the opposite direction that we did. Then, when you get out of Leehaven, you can use the crosswalk to cross busy Neff Rd. From there, you could walk west (uphill) and connect to the paved path that leads to Pilot Butte State Park. OR…you could go East (downhill) and have a refreshment at the Lot (a group of food trucks) across from the hospital.