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Hiking Klamath/Siskiyou Mountains Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Jack-Ash Trail: Griffin Gap to Anderson Ridge – 05/27/2022

With the snow level forecast to drop as low as 4500′ over the weekend we shifted the order of our planned Memorial Day weekend hikes so that we could do the highest elevation hike on Friday before the big snow level drop. It was already going to be a much cooler day than the previous two had been and there was a slight chance of showers which didn’t sound all that bad at this point. Sullivan added the Jack-Ash Trail as a featured hike in his 4.2 edition of “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Norther California” guidebook after the 2020 wildfire season wreaked havoc on some of the previous featured hikes. We have switched our goal to completing the 100 featured hikes in this most recent version for the same reason and this would be the first hike on this trip that would check another of the 100 off. (While our hike at Upper Table Rock (post) the day before had been one of Sullivan’s featured hikes we had previously done Lower Table Rock which is the other option Sullivan gives for the featured hike and so we had been counting it as done.) Sullivan’s described hike is a short 3 mile loop visiting the site of a former lookout tower on Anderson Butte. We had originally planned on hiking a longer portion of the trail which the BLM is in the process of developing. When completed the trail will connect the cities of Jacksonville and Ashland, OR thus the name. There are several different trailheads that can be used for access and we chose to start at the Griffin Gap Trailhead and planned on hiking to the Anderson Ridge Trailhead which is where Sullivan’s described loop begins. (Directions to the trailheads can be found on the BLM page for the trail here.)

We’ve seen all kinds of trailheads over the last dozen years and this one was up there on the list of odd ones. Located on a saddle where pavement ends on Anderson Butte Road there was no visible signage at first glance and the area was clearly popular with the target shooting crowd (a subset of which tends to leave quite a mess). An ATV/Motorcycle trail was visible diving steeply down a ridge to the north and then up the ridge on the other side of the saddle where the now gravel Anderson Butte Road forked to the left of the ridge and BLM Road 39-2-8 forked to the right side. The Jack-Ash Trail follows this road 0.9 miles to the Greenstone Trailhead. We didn’t attempt driving to that trailhead because why drive a potholed gravel road if you don’t have to. After deciding on a parking spot that we felt would be the most out of the line of fire we got out of the car and spotted the trailhead sign several feet downhill where the Jack-Ash Trail came up to the saddle from the Grub Gulch Trailhead.
IMG_1027The target shooting area and the OHV track coming down the ridge.

IMG_1029The track going up the ridge between the two roads. We briefly wondered if this had been the BLM’s work to bypass the road walk in between this trailhead and the Greenstone Trailhead but decided it likely wasn’t (good call).

IMG_1025The “hidden” trailhead sign.

We set off on the road which indeed had a few potholes.
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We gained about 200′ getting to the Greenstone Trailhead passing another graffiti filled shooting area at an old quarry and finding yet more evidence of target practice at the Greenstone Trailhead.
IMG_1045Despite the empty shell casings and garbage left by the shooters there were some nice flowers along the road.

IMG_1048Valerian

IMG_1049Bleeding heart

IMG_1051The Greenstone Trailhead

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The Jack-Ash Trail turned uphill over a dirt berm and continued on a old road bed for another half mile or so.
IMG_1055Nicer signs on the other side of the berm.

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There were quite a few Henderson’s fawn lilies blooming along this stretch which was a flower we had not encountered in bloom until this trip so we took a lot of pictures.
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20220527_073940Can you spot the insect?

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IMG_1097Trillium

The old road bed became fainter the further we went and eventually at a post the Jack-Ash Trail veered uphill to the right.
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The trail climbed up through an open forest that showed signs of a previous fire. We made three switchbacks gaining approximately 400′ in the process. The under story here was full of milk-vetch and wild iris and was also hosting a number of ticks.
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20220527_081407We managed to spot a few of the bloodsuckers before they grabbed my pants but we also had to flick 6-8 of the little buggers off.

IMG_1137Charred tree trunks along the trail.

After climbing near to the top of the ridge the trail leveled off and straightened out as it headed south following the ridge.
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IMG_1151No signs of fire here.

Approximately two miles from the Greenstone Trailhead we left the forest at a small saddle below Anderson Butte.
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Had we been doing Sullivan’s described hike we would have been coming from the other direction and at the edge of the forest where he says to “..turn uphill on a smaller, unmarked trail that leads to an old roadbed..”. We got a bit turned around here because we only saw two trails, the continuation of the Jack-Ash Trail and a faint trail passing an unmarked post heading west.
IMG_1162The Jack-Ash Trail continuing south.

IMG_1157The trail heading west.

The problem was Anderson Butte was to the SE not to the west but we wandered out on that trail just to make sure we were reading the map right. The path led a short distance to a knoll confirming this wasn’t the trail to Anderson Butte.
IMG_1158Balsamroot

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We walked back to the saddle and then walked back into the forest a few steps to a faint trail heading slightly uphill toward the butte and turned onto it.
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This trail soon joined an old roadbed.
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Four tenths of a mile after leaving the Jack-Ash Trail we arrived at another road where we made a sharp right turn and climbed a quarter mile to the former lookout site.
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IMG_1198Scarlet fritillary – Fritillaria recurva

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There were an number of wildflowers around the summit and despite the cloudy day the views were good.
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IMG_1220Parsley, larkspur, prairie stars and blue-eyed Mary.

IMG_1229Lupine and buckwheat

IMG_1216Mt. McLoughlin (post)

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IMG_1227Zoomed shot of Dutchman Peak

IMG_1230Zoomed shot of Red Buttes

After a nice break at the summit we followed a trail down the southern ridge of the butte.
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IMG_1236Paintbrush, blue-eyed Mary, and redstem storksbill

IMG_1241A stonecrop

After 0.2 miles this trail joined a roadbed which we followed for roughly 450 feet. We were looking for a short connector trail described by Sullivan that would take us down to the Jack-Ash Trail. If we couldn’t find the connector Sullivan mentioned a steep OHV Trail that could be used.
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We weren’t really seeing anything that looked like a connector but we thought we saw what might be a very faint path leading downhill through a more open section of forest at a point where the GPS showed the Jack-Ash Trail less than 100 yards away. Whether or not this was the right spot it seemed preferable to a steep OHV trail so we set off downhill and soon found ourselves back on the Jack-Ash.
IMG_1243Where we left the roadbed.

IMG_1244Back on the Jack-Ash.

Before heading back toward the car we continued south on the trail a little over three quarters of a mile to the Anderson Ridge Trailhead. This stretch of trail was relatively level with more views and wildflowers. As we neared the Anderson Ridge Trailhead we did hear some shooting along the road on the other side of the ridge but we never saw anyone and they weren’t at the actual trailhead.
IMG_1246Giant white wakerobbin

IMG_1249Paintbrush and waterleaf

IMG_1252Grayback Mountain to the left with snow.

IMG_1253The OHV trail crossing the Jack-Ash Trail.

IMG_1255The OHV trail coming down from the road.

IMG_1259Lupine

20220527_094828Larkspur

IMG_1263Always appreciate a good mountain locator.

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IMG_1271Mariposa lily

IMG_1274Paintbrush

IMG_1279Silverleaf phacelia

IMG_1286Some sort of big thistle on the hillside.

IMG_1289Some pink lupine.

20220527_095839Rough eyelash-weed

IMG_1295Western wallflower with a crab spider.

IMG_1312Clustered broomrape

IMG_1316Buckwheat, paintbrush, and lupine

IMG_1321Plectritis

IMG_1325Nearing the Anderson Ridge Trailhead.

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This trailhead had a sign-in log so we filled that out and then headed back sticking to the Jack-Ash Trail and passing below Anderson Butte.
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IMG_1338Miniture lupine

IMG_1352A ringlet on fiddleneck.

IMG_1356Post at the OHV trail crossing.

20220527_104523Salsify

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IMG_1364Yarrow

IMG_1367The Jack-Ash Trail nearing the saddle where we had turned off to go up Anderson Butte.

IMG_1369Wild onion (possibly Siskiyou)

IMG_1371Meadowfoam

IMG_1377Royal Jacobs-ladder

20220527_115145Royal Jacobs-ladder

IMG_1389The berm at the Greenstone Trailhead.

We were happy to find that there was no one using the Griffin Gap Trailhead when we got back and aside from the gunfire near Anderson Butte we hadn’t seen or heard any other people all day. The hike came in just a bit over 9 miles with approximately 1650′ of elevation gain. The incoming wet weather held off aside from a couple of sprinkles but the cloud cover kept the temperature very comfortable which was welcome after the previous two days.

This hike was a needed break from both the heat and poison oak. We only spotted the latter a couple of times on open hillsides but never had to worry about it. Long pants were still useful though due to the occasional ticks that we had to stop and flick off my pants (we never saw any on Heather this time). We were starting to feel like we were back on track now that we were halfway through our trip. Saturday looked to be a rainy one so we were going to stick close to the motel and check out the Denman Wildlife Refuge. For now though we headed back to Medford looking forward to our leftover pizza from Kaleidoscope. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Jack-Ash Trail

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Hiking Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Enchanted Forest and Felton Memorial Trails

We typically try and have a relatively short hike (by our standards anyway) planned for our drive home from vacations. For our Medford trip this wound up being a 6.8 mile hike on the Enchanted Forest and Felton Memorial Trails. The trailhead is located approximately halfway between Jacksonville and Grants Pass. To reach it from Medford we took Highway 238 through Jacksonville and turned right on North Applegate Road at the community of Applegate. After 4.5 miles, where N. Applegate Road turned sharply left, we continued straight on Kubli Road for 100 feet before turning right on Slagle Creek Road. We followed that road for 1.5 miles to its end where we parked on the shoulder away from the private driveways.
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The Enchanted Forest Trail began on the far side of a green gate and passed through a brief section of trees before entering a meadow.
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The trail split in the meadow with a hiker only trail going straight and the right hand fork open to horses and bikes. The trails rejoin after .2 miles making a short loop. We stayed on the hiker path. The trails rejoined before re-entering the forest and passing an old pickup.
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At the .7 mile mark we arrived at the signed junction with the Felton Memorial Trail.
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We turned right onto the memorial trail which crossed a nearly dry creek then gently rolled up and down along the hillside before dropping to the memorial which honors the three victims of a 1993 helicopter crash.
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After paying our respects we returned to the Enchanted Forest Trail and headed uphill. This trail climbed gradually along an off and on again creek through a green forest that was made a little more enchanted by the fog.
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Approximately three quarters of a mile from the trail junction the Enchanted Forest Trail turned sharply left, away from the creek and launched uphill at a fairly steep grade. The climb only lasted about two tenths of a mile where the trail came to a brushy opening with a few wildflowers. On a clearer day there would have been a view of the valley below but it was too cloudy on this day.
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We continued past the opening and┬ápast a “Leaving Public Lands” sign to a saddle where, again, it was too cloudy for a view.
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We headed back this time tacking the horse/mountain bike path through the meadow.
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We didn’t see any horses but there were plenty of snails on the trails.
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The path passed some nice fields of bachelor buttons, a non-native flower, but pretty nonetheless.
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Other flowers included yellow moth mullen, madia, pink checkermallows, and purple elegant brodiaea.
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We finished the hike having only seen one tick, much better than the previous two days had been, and successfully avoided any issues with the poison oak. It had been a good four days of hiking, infinitely better than our May vacation where I threw the camera in the Coquille River, injured my foot, and wound up with the stomach flu. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Enchanted Forest and Felton Memorial Trails

Categories
Hiking Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Collings Mountain and Jacksonville

Lingering snow in the mountains has continued to force us to rearrange our planned hikes. We had planned on an extended weekend backpacking trip from 6/8 to 6/12 from Grayback Mountain to the Red Buttes Wilderness but by mid May it was clear that unless we wanted to deal with a good deal of snow we’d need to hold off on that trip. After much juggling on our spreadsheet our new plan was 4 days of hiking around Medford and Jacksonville.

We set off early on Thursday morning heading south on I-5 to Medford. Our plan was to get a hike (or two) in before checking into our motel. Our first stop was at Hart-Tish Park at Applegate Lake. From Medford we followed Highway 238 through Jacksonville to Ruch where we turned left on Upper Applegate Road for 15.9 miles.

After picking up a $5 day pass at the Hart-Tish Store we set off from the day use area on a paved path toward Applegate Lake.

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The lake was pretty busy for a Thursday morning.

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From the picnic area we turned right following the Da-Ku-Be-Te-De Trail along the lake shore.

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The forecast had called for rain but it was shaping up to be a really nice day.

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A nice variety of flowers were blooming along the level path.

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There was also a fair amount of poison oak but the trail was wide enough that it was never really an issue.

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After 3.6 miles we arrived at Watkins Campground where we crossed Upper Applegate Road to the start of the Collings Mountain Trail.

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The 6.9 mile Collings Mountain Trail would lead us back to Hart-Tish Park after passing over the 3625′ summit of Collings Mountain. The trail climbed through a dry forest with occasional views down to Applegate Lake and to the snowy Red Buttes Wilderness beyond.

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There isn’t really a view from the summit but we spotted a few additional types of flowers along the trail.

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Just over three miles from the summit the trail passed a prospectors adit on the left.

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Another quarter mile brought us to an unmarked but obvious side trail on the left that led uphill a short distance to a Bigfoot Trap which was unfortunately empty.

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From the side trail it was a little over half a mile back to the the Hart-Tish Park day use area where the clouds had lifted enough to reveal Red Buttes beyond the far end of Applegate Lake.

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It was a little after 3pm when we arrived back at our car which meant we could check into our motel now, but we had one other hike planned for the day in Jacksonville. We drove back to the former gold mining town and parked near the visitors center at the end of C Street.

From the parking lot we followed stairs up to a crossing of Highway 238.

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Another set of stairs brought us to Britt Gardens, the site of the home of Peter Britt that unfortunately burned down in 1960. Uphill to the left an open air amphitheater hosts the Britt Festival’s summer concerts.

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We followed a path to the right to a sign board for the Sara Zigler Interpretive Trail.

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This trail passes the Britt Sequoia, a 4-foot-diameter tree planted by Peter Britt in 1862 on the day of his Son’s birth.

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The trail traverses a hillside before dropping slightly to a crossing of Jackson Creek near another possible trailhead along Highway 238.

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We took the Jackson Fork Trail from this parking area and quickly recrossed Jackson Creek.

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We followed the Jackson Fork Trail uphill where we spotted a a Washington lily, a California harebell, and several California ground cones.

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We stuck to the Jackson Fork Trail until we saw a pointer for Panorama Point at which point we followed pointers for it amid the oak grassland.

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The horizon was too cloudy for us to see Mt. McLoughlin but on a clearer day it would have been visible from the viewpoint.

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We continued past the viewpoint and descended into Rich Gulch.

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Then we followed pointers for Oregon Street.

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At Oregon Street we hopped onto the road and followed it into town where we took a brief walking tour of the historic buildings.

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Before returning to our car we stopped at Bella Union for dinner. As it turned out they were celebrating their 29th birthday with free appetizers, birthday cake, and a champagne toast. The food and atmosphere were wonderful and an excellent way to finish off the first day of a vacation. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Collings Mountain and Jacksonville