Six things to look forward to in the Mid-Willamette Valley

Dome Rock ~ Marion County, Oregon ~ Photo by Zak Stone
From new mountain biking trails to witnessing a total solar eclipse, there is a lot to look forward to this year near Salem, Oregon. Here are six new things to discover in 2017:
Footbridge Concept ~ OBEC Consulting Engineers and GreenworksOpening of the Minto Island Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge
The Peter Courtney Minto Island Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge will connect downtown Salem to Minto-Brown Island Park. This is the last link needed to connect the area’s three major parks and provide a network of more than 20 miles of off-street trails. When finished, the acreage will be larger than Central Park’s in New York City. Although an exact date has not been announced, the bridge is expected to open in 2017. 
Explore local breweries and cideries on the Salem Ale Trail
Taste Salem’s finest craft beers and ciders as you experience the city’s first Ale Trail. Set to open in April, the trail will take visitors to at least eight local breweries and cideries. Receive a stamp in your Ale Trail Passport at every stop and collect a free pint glass at the end.
New Mountain Biking Trail at Silver Falls State Park
An additional four miles of trail will be added to the Catamount Trail at Silver Falls State Park. The trail, which is currently 3.5 miles long, is the park’s only trail optimized for mountain bike use. The new addition will create links to existing backcountry trails and to trails at Shellburg Falls Recreation Area. 
Construction on the trails will begin in February 2017. Newt Loop, a 1.7-mile trail designed for beginners, is expected to open by midsummer. This part of the trail will have progressive skill stations to help bikers acquire higher-level riding skills. The rest of the trail is scheduled to open by late fall. 
 “River2Ridge” will bring popular Japanese challenge to Salem 
Based on Japan’s popular “Sea to Summit” event, “River2Ridge” will take you on an adventure through the Mid-Willamette Valley. Starting in Salem, participants will paddle 6.2 miles down the Willamette River, bike 47.8 miles of the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway and hike a 5.8-mile loop around Silver Falls State Park. The event is scheduled for Sept. 17, 2017. 
Before the event, on Sept. 16, there will be an environmental symposium at Salem’s Riverfront Park. It will highlight interesting environmental, agricultural and cultural aspects of the course route to help participants better appreciate the experience. This event is free and open to the public. 
View the Great American Solar Eclipse
For the first time in more than 30 years, a total solar eclipse will move diagonally across the United States on Aug. 21, 2017. The eclipse will start on the Oregon Coast and travel directly through Salem at 10:17 a.m. During the eclipse, the moon will pass between the earth and the sun, causing Salem to go nearly or completely dark for almost two minutes. Viewing parties are planned at the Oregon State Capitol, Volcanoes Stadium, local wineries and other nearby attractions. 
Vineyard in the Mid-Willamette Valley ~ Photo by Kelly JamesCollect wine glass charms on Tri-County Charm Trail 
Debuting this spring, the Tri-County Charm Trail will take you to some of the best wineries and attractions in Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties. At each location, participants will receive a collectible wine glass charm with paid admission or product purchase.