If you’re looking for a little solitude close to home, the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area northwest of Albany is the place to go. And if you take your bike instead of driving, you don’t have to worry about the $10 parking permit the state wants you to buy before leaving your car at any of the areas run by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
I hadn’t been out to E.E. Wilson for a while. In fact I missed this summer’s blackberry season. But I went out there on Tuesday, a nice October day with just a few sprinkles but no real rain. There were six other people there, including a bird hunter with his shotgun and two dogs. But in that 1,788 acres of brush, meadows, wetlands, and isolated stands of oak, you would hardly call that a crowd.
If you’re curious and want to get the full story of the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area, ODFW has a nice visitor’s guide online here.
As for that parking fee, it’s in a good cause. The wildlife department started it about five years ago in order to raise money to maintain and improve all its wildlife areas around the state. When I first wrote about it years ago, I was told that being caught without a parking permit would mean not just a parking ticket but a violation of state wildlife law, so it’s a serious matter.
There are signs warning people that a parking permit is required, and you can get one online, but if you arrive at a wildlife area unaware, it’s too late to obtain one unless you have a laptop and printer with you in the car. Going there on a bike avoids all that.