The historic town of Dallas, located about 20 minutes west of Salem, offers a cute downtown and expansive city park. Located in Dallas City Park, the Delbert Hunter Arboretum is small but lovely. Paths wind through the five-acre arboretum, which features primarily trees and shrubs. It’s open year-round, from dawn to dusk, and accessible through the park daily. The visitor center is open Tuesdays from 9 a.m. until noon, which is also when people are invited to volunteer in the arboretum. There are benches throughout for visitors to sit and enjoy the views, most of them in honor of people connected to the conservatory in some way. Wheelchairs could navigate some park sections, and pets on leashes are welcome.

Delbert Hunter Arboretum
A view of the Log Flume Trail with early fall color in the Delbert Hunter Arboretum. Photo credit: Mollie Nouwen

Delbert Hunter founded the arboretum in 1978 with four acres from the Dallas City Council. The site mainly was blackberry bushes and some native trees. With a lot of volunteer work, including from the National Guard, the area was cleared out. Volunteers created trails, moved logs and rocks, and created a pond and wetland area now at the botanical garden entrance. As time went on, the arboretum was able to raise funds for more plants and a visitor center, and they also received a gift of additional adjoining land from the city.

Features of Delbert Hunter Arboretum

The arboretum includes entirely Oregon native plants, at this point numbering over 1,000. There are a few flowers, but the bulk of the garden is larger plants, and most of the area is heavily wooded. Visitors can see a great cross-section of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs of various kinds, with every season providing different views. Most of the shrubs and trees are marked with plaques with the common and Latin names, including descriptions of the attributes of the plant.

The creek that runs through the city park offers some lovely vistas. Two sides of the garden are bordered by Rickreall Creek, creating multiple ecological areas featuring different kinds of plants. The creek is shaded and wide – during the summer, it would be a great place to wade and play in the water. It’s quite shallow, and the current is not strong most of the year, so access is possible even for families.

Delbert Hunter Arboretum
The bridge over the pond at the entrance to Delbert Hunter Arboretum, with a giant Sequoia in the background. Photo credit: Mollie Nouwen

There are seven marked trails through the park, and even the longest is only a quarter of a mile. Different paths feature diverse trees and shrubs, from the Dogwood Loop to the Oregon Grape Loop. Other routes are focused on terrain and take visitors along the creek, through the wetlands, or around the meadow. One of the trails follows the log flume that brought recently felled logs into the river and then downstream to the sawmill. The remains of that sawmill are visible in part of the city park.

Wild birds and a variety of small mammals make their homes in the park. Along the creek, there have been recent beaver sightings as well. Deer are a common sight, and signs ask visitors to be particularly careful not to approach the fawns during the spring when they are small. On a recent visit, there were even some neighborhood chickens strolling through the park.

Delbert Hunter Arboretum
Rickreall Creek, which creates one of the borders of Delbert Hunter Arboretum. Photo credit: Mollie Nouwen

Inside the Dallas City Park

Dallas City Park is a much larger park with areas that might interest visitors. An 18-hole disc golf course moves through a charming wooded area. The course is very well-maintained and popular with disc golfers throughout the region. There are five basketball courses and two good-sized playgrounds. A Japanese garden exists but requires many repairs. The many wooded areas of the park are pleasant to walk through, and a bridge that moves as you walk across it provides access across the creek that divides the park.

Anyone visiting Dallas should make time to visit the Delbert Hunter Arboretum. The walks through the park are easy and pleasant for any age. The changing views of the plants and animals through the seasons make it a great break any time of year.

Delbert Hunter Arboretum
631 SW Park Street, Dallas

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