Who doesn’t love butterflies?  I certainly do.  Living in Florence, I had of course heard of a butterfly pavilion in Elkton, but I’d never quite managed to visit.  The drive, coupled with the “unknown” of whether I would be able to negotiate the grounds had always been enough of a deterrent that when my husband and I had time to explore, it never quite made it to the top of the list.  But when a friend from my Stretch & Strengthen class mentioned she and her spouse had recently visited, had a wonderful time, and she thought it might be a good addition for 100 Steps, it was immediately added to the excursion agenda for the camping trip we were embarking on the following weekend.

Elkton Community Education Center (ECEC) is the official name of this non-profit organization.  And while it is definitely an educational opportunity and is clearly a service to the community, both human and wildlife, the stars of the show are the butterflies.  So I’ve titled this location with the less formal name to help ensure people don’t overlook it.

I had only heard good things about the ECEC, and yet still I was pleasantly surprised.  Charming, instructive, friendly, colorful, fragrant, relaxing – all describe this delectable slice of cultivated nature.  You can easily spend several delightful hours amongst flora and butterflies.  Traversing the Umpqua River Oregon Scenic Byway to reach the facility is icing on an already sweet and satiating piece of metaphorical cake.

Education center

Stroll Wheels:

In the main hub of this facility, you can browse T-shirts, birdhouses and feeders, and butterfly memorabilia in the gift shop, rest in the educational courtyard, or picnic under a slatted patio cover serving as a trellis for flowering vines.  Ample seating allows strolling between these areas, with resting options within 50 steps (most within 25 steps).

Walk Details for Education center
Terrain: Pavement and sidewalk. A few steps in gravel to reach to reach the picnic tables. Tile in the educational courtyard. All level and easy to negotiate.
Seating: Two picnic tables and several tables with individual chairs.
Fee: No fee, but donations are accepted.
Restrooms: Yes, in the hallway between the educational courtyard and the picnic area.
Directions: The sidewalk next to parking has two entrances: one for the educational courtyard, the other the picnic area. There is a hallway in between the two areas.

Flight room

Stroll Wheels:

As we entered the enclosed, screen-topped, greenhouse-like structure dubbed the Flight Room, we were followed by a helpful and knowledgeable young man.  A few Monarchs flitted amongst the flowers and around the fountain, one hung from a blossom in a whimsical frog vase, and others sunned themselves on the building’s mesh siding.  We breathed deeply the sweet scent of a variety of blooms while viewing chrysalises in various phases of development hanging from a butterfly birthing board.  Our young guide pointed out a dark cocoon that would hatch later that day and showed us a specimen who had emerged recently, still drying her damp wings.

I was impressed by his familiarity with the flying inhabitants of the room.  In addition to the Monarchs, there were also two (yes…two ) Painted Ladies within the structure, but we would not likely see them.  As we explored on our own, and he continued to share his lepidopteran insights with another couple and their young daughter, we spied a fluttering set of wings that did not belong to a Monarch.  We mentioned this as we exited, and he enthusiastically headed to the area we identified, so he could show the Painted Lady to the other guests.

Walk Details for Flight room
Terrain: Hard packed dirt with tiny gravel, all level. Path width is roomy for one, but not quite wide enough for two.
Seating: Two benches with backs, one at each end of the structure. Both a great vantage for the flowers, fountain, and butterflies.
Fee: No fee, but donations are accepted.
Restrooms: Yes, in the hallway between the educational courtyard and the picnic area.
Directions: From the parking lot, pass the gift shop, and go through the educational courtyard. The Flight Room is entered through a door on the left.

Butterfly garden

Stroll Wheels:

Flowering plants and shrubs of varying heights selected to encourage small colorful flyers – both butterflies and hummingbirds – are traversed via a grass trail that weaves amongst them.  Since walking on grass is not optimal for me, I selected a short route from parking lot across the lawn to the path that hugs the west end of the Flight Room.  This soon returned me to the sidewalk that runs the length of the Flight Room.  I missed most of the beauty, but at least I got a “taste.”  These gardens really warrant a leisurely stroll.  Planning may allow you more lengthy enjoyment of this lush, fragrant botany.

Walk Details for Butterfly garden
Terrain: Level, slightly uneven grass
Seating: I skirted only the outside edge of the gardens. In this portion, I did not encounter any benches.
Fee: No fee, but donations are accepted.
Restrooms: Within the main facility, in the hallway between the educational courtyard and the picnic area.
Directions: From the west end of the parking lot, cross the open lawn to reach the gardens.

Tree zoo

200+ Steps Wheels:

I did not walk this loop trail, planted with trees representing the various Oregon climate zones.  (It was a muggy day, and it was time for lunch!)  Google Maps shows the Tree Zoo trail to be a loop of about a quarter of a mile.  The terrain I could see was solid, broad and flat.  Based on how delightful and well-planned the rest of the ECEC grounds are, I suspect this is a pleasant, scenic walk.

Walk Details for Tree zoo
Terrain: The small portion I could see was flat, wide pavement and packed dirt. I only walked to the Tree Zoo Map sign, though, about 100 steps.
Seating: Unknown. None visible from the Tree Zoo Map sign.
Fee: No fee
Restrooms: Map shows restrooms in Zone 7, which looks to be about 3/4 of the way around the loop if you head clockwise.
Directions: Entrance is on the west end of the parking lot. Tree Zoo Map sign shows the route.