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Hiking Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Roxy Ann Peak – 05/30/2022

Memorial Day marked the end of our trip to the Medford area but before we headed home we had one final hike planned at Roxy Ann Peak. Located within Prescott Park the 3670′ Roxy Ann Peak offers multiple trails and great views (on clear days) of the surrounding area. The park has two gates that according to the park brochure are “typically” open from 8 to 8 in Spring and Summer (closed at 5pm in Fall/Winter). We wanted to get an early start to our drive back to Salem so we opted to park at the 1st gate and road walk to the start of the trail that Sullivan features in his guidebook.
IMG_1947Setting off at 5:20am from the 1st gate.

This was another hike that became a featured hike in his 4.2 edition “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California” due to fire damage to several of the previously featured hikes. He suggests a 3.4 mile loop started by parking at the second gate. Like most of our other hikes this trip we’d originally planned on a longer hike utilizing more of the Park’s trails but had pulled back after the first day of our trip (post) but parking at the first, lower trailhead did add a little over 2 miles round trip. While the forecast was for a mostly sunny day the clouds from the weekend hadn’t moved on as we hiked up the road.
IMG_1959Roxy Ann Peak from the road.

We spotted three deer and a jack rabbit during the road walk but the low light conditions made for poor picture taking opportunities. Fortunately deer were the theme for the first half of the hike and we had several more photo ops with them.
IMG_1960Jack rabbit

IMG_1963Coming up on the 2nd gate.

IMG_1964Sunlight hitting the hillsides on the far side of Medford.

Our planned lollipop loop was to take the Madrone Trail to the Oak Trail then onto the Ponderosa Trail which would take us up to the Park Tower Road where we could visit the summit. Then we would descend via the Manzanita Trail back to the Madrone Trail to return to Roxy Ann Road and eventually our car.
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It was 0.2 miles along the road from the 2nd gate to the start of the Madrone Trail where we turned right and began climbing in earnest.
IMG_1969Roxy Ann’s shadow being cast over Medford.

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For the most part the trails in the park were nice and wide giving us the feeling of plenty of space from the abundant poison oak in the area. (We’re not sure how long it takes to get used to hiking in its presence but we haven’t gotten there yet.) There was a nice variety of wildflowers along the way and, as I already mentioned, a good deal of wildlife. We also appreciated the fact that most junctions were well marked with posts identifying the various trails.
IMG_1976Lots of purple vetch along the trails.

IMG_1977One of the posts used to identify trails.

IMG_1980Madrones along the Madrone Trail.

IMG_1982We turned left following the pointer for the Oak Trail.

IMG_1993Juvenile great horned owl along the Oak Trail. We didn’t get a good look at the second owl to the left but it looked to be an adult.

IMG_1995This segment of the Madrone Trail (MD3) ended at Roxy Ann Road with the Oak Trail picking up on the far side.

IMG_1996The Oak Trail

IMG_1997Lupine amid the vetch

IMG_1999Camas in front of poison oak.

20220530_060450Carrotleaf horkelia

IMG_2004ookow

IMG_2005Death camas

IMG_2010Blue-eyed grass

IMG_2012Oak along the Oak Trail.

IMG_2015Roxy Ann Peak

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IMG_2023Blow wives

IMG_2025The Oak Trail appeared to be the least used of all the trails we would hike on this day.

IMG_2028Lower Table Rock (post)

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IMG_2044The only post we saw that wasn’t helpful.

IMG_2045Challenge Course just off the Oak Trail.

IMG_2048Parts of the Challenge Course

IMG_2049Trail junction near the Challenge Course with the Oak and Ponderosa Trails.

IMG_2052Dove

IMG_2053Hopping onto the Ponderosa Trail.

IMG_2054Mariposa lily

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IMG_2061Lazuli bunting. We saw quite a few of these during our trip but they proved to be very difficult to photograph.

IMG_2063Medford from the Ponderosa Trail.

IMG_2068Paintbrush

20220530_063124Madia

IMG_2076Lower Table Rock again.

IMG_2083A bench and Ponderosa pines along the Ponderosa Trail.

IMG_2091Plectritis

IMG_2092Two more deer above the trail.

IMG_2108Deer and balsamroot.

IMG_2093Young deer

IMG_2095Momma deer

IMG_2114Larkspur

IMG_2120Nearing Park Tower Road.

When we hit the road we headed uphill then took a short rocky trail to a picnic table on the summit. Unfortunately the low clouds hadn’t burned off nearly enough yet for us to get the big views of either the Cascade Mountains or the Sisikyous but it was a nice view none the less.
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IMG_2130Serenading lazuli bunting.

IMG_2131A lot darker clouds toward the Cascades.

With no real views today we took a brief break then headed over to the tower on the other side of the peak just for the heck of it before heading down the road to pick up the Manzanita Trail.
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IMG_2136Sign for the Manzanita Trail

We followed this trail back down to Roxy Ann Road and the Madrone Trail.
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IMG_2140The lower flank of Grizzly Peak (post) to the left. Mt. Ashland (post) is hiding behind the clouds almost straight ahead.

IMG_2143Looking NE from the trail, still a lot of clouds.

IMG_2156Another bunting, we were on a roll.

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IMG_2163The clouds were really starting to break up as we descended.

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IMG_2168Arrow-leaf buckwheat on the hillside.

IMG_2170Roxy Ann Road

IMG_2172Back on the Madrone Trail.

IMG_2175Back on the road walk. The trail post here is for the Greenhorn Trail.

IMG_2181Spotted towhee.

The lower gate was still closed when we got back to our car around 8:20am but we’d passed a steady stream of hikers and trail runners heading up the road regardless. In the end our hike came to 5.4 miles with approximately 1475′ of elevation gain.

It had been a nice short hike to end the trip on. It was only about 15 minutes from our room so we had left our things there instead of having to leave it in the car and now had time to go back to the room, shower and then drive home. We stopped in Eugene to have lunch with our son Dominique and his friend Russell and then continued home to unpack and start getting ready for our next adventure. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Roxy Ann Peak

Categories
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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IMG_1126Milkvetch

IMG_1127Iris

IMG_1130Pacific houndstongue

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_1147Snow queen

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

IMG_1171Phlox

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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

Categories
Hiking Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Upper Table Rock – 05/26/2022

After the debacle at Mule Mountain (post) we made some adjustments to our planned set of hikes by removing a hike up Stein Butte and a stop at Lower Table Rock which we had visited on a previous trip (post) and shortening our other planned outings. Removing Stein Butte left open the option to not hike on Thursday if we needed a full day of rest which as we went to bed Wednesday night seemed likely. We got up Thursday and hobbled down to the motel’s continental breakfast to finalize our plans for the day which included a trip to the store for food and medical supplies and doing a load of laundry to hopefully wash off any lingering poison oak that we’d picked up on the Mule Creek Trail. It was going to be another warm day but then the forecast showed a dramatic shift with precipitation possible Friday through Sunday including snow as low as 4500′. While we ate we decided that it was going to be too nice to not get out at all and waiting for the afternoon/evening would result in a warmer hike than we’d like so we decided to head to Upper Table Rock as soon as we were done with breakfast.

The Table Rocks are a pair of horseshoe shaped mesas north of Medford and host a variety of Spring wildflowers. Pre Mule Mountain our plan had been to hike both Upper and Lower Table Rocks along with a visit to the Denman Wildlife Area. The plan now was to skip Lower Table Rock this time and split the two other hikes up with the shorter, Upper Table Rock today, and a little longer loop at Denman on Saturday which was forecast to be the rainiest day of the weekend. When we arrived at the Upper Table Rock Trailhead a little before 8am it was already fairly warm out.
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We stopped at the signboards and reviewed the map determining to do the yellow “recommended loop” once we had climbed the 1.25 miles to the top of the mesa.
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There were a good number of flowers still blooming and although poison oak is profuse in the area the wide trail made it easy to avoid. We were definitely feeling the effects of the prior days hike though as we gained the 700’+ of elevation to the start of the loop.
IMG_0784Acorn woodpecker

IMG_0788Death camas and vetch

IMG_0789Carrotleaf horkelia

IMG_0794Lazuli bunting

IMG_0799Finch

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IMG_0801Lupine

IMG_0807Oregon sunshine

IMG_0810Andestite boulder

IMG_0803Mt. McLoughlin (post)

IMG_0811Ground squirrel having breakfast

20220526_081826Blow wives

IMG_0819A clarkia

IMG_0826Blue dicks

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IMG_0832Paintbrush (and poison oak)

20220526_082152Could be a cutleaf silverpuff or a hawksbeard

IMG_0843Viewpoint bench at the half mile point.

20220526_083031Clustered broomrape

IMG_0856Siskiyou Mountains including Mt. Ashland (post), Wagner Butte (post), and Dutchman Peak.

IMG_0857Another type of clarkia

IMG_0870Possibly bastard toadflax

IMG_0874Mariposa lilies

IMG_0875Balsamroot along the trail.

IMG_0879Bell catchfly

IMG_0881Plumed solomonseal

IMG_0884Approaching the start of the loop.

We did the 0.9 mile loop counter-clockwise trying to stick to the most worn trails where the official trail wasn’t obvious.
IMG_0885Looking toward the Siskiyous.

IMG_0886The Red Buttes (post)

IMG_0889Pilot Rock (post)

IMG_0890Mt. Ashland (w/snow) and Wagner Butte

IMG_0894A couple of different wildflowers.

IMG_0896Narrowleaf onion?

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IMG_0912Pincushion plant

IMG_0917Meadowfoam

IMG_0919Not sure what these yellow flowers are. Yellow flowers are by far the hardest to figure out.

IMG_0922Rock wren

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IMG_0928Turkey vulture in flight with Mt. McLoughlin in the background.

IMG_0934Lower Table Rock beyond the other bench of Upper Table Rock.

IMG_0941An American kestral atop a tree.

IMG_0944Lizard

IMG_0957A butterfly and a beetle on arrowleaf buckwheat

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IMG_0975Yarrow

IMG_0978Chaparral false bindweed

IMG_0995White tritelia

After completing the loop, along with taking a couple of breaks to enjoy the scenery, we headed back down to the trailhead. Along the way we spotted a few more species of wildlife and passed a couple of elementary school classes heading up the trail.
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IMG_1004Rufous sided hummingbird

IMG_1013Lizard

IMG_1022Brown headed cowbird

IMG_1019Mt. McLoughlin on the way down.

This hike was just what we needed after the previous days outing. The 3.5 miles and 720′ of elevation gain kept our muscles moving and helped us not stiffen up too much but it was easy enough that we didn’t feel we overexerted ourselves.

After the hike we stopped at Fred Meyer for supplies and lunch from their deli then returned to the motel to do a load of laundry. Later we headed out to Kaleidoscope Pizza having seen it mentioned in a post by Boots on the Trail. It was a good choice and we wound up with leftovers for the next nights dinner as well. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Upper Table Rock

Categories
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

Sterling Mine Ditch

Day three of our Medford trip was supposed to be a hike along Applegate Lake on the opposite shore from our first day’s hike, but upon arriving at the French Gulch Trailhead we discovered that the Granite Man, an off-road running, triathlon and duathlon event, was taking place that day. That would have meant sharing the trail with numerous runners and mountain bikers which wasn’t all that appealing given that stepping off trail to let them pass wouldn’t be all that easy due to the presence of poison oak.

We went to plan “B” which was a hike in the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail system. The Sterling Mine Ditch Trail is a little over 17 miles long offering several different starting points and other trails in the area make loops possible. For our visit we decided to try an 11.6 mile loop described by Sullivan in his “100 Hikes in Southern Oregon” guidebook. His description of the hike starts at the Wolf Gap Trailhead on Armstrong-Deming Road (39-2-8) and finishing with a walk up that road to get back to the trailhead. We decided to park lower along Armstrong-Deming Road at the Deming Gulch Trailhead.

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There wasn’t much parking along the shoulder of the road here which may be why he suggests starting at the larger Wolf Gap parking area, but we’d rather start with a road walk than end with one and we were the only car there so parking wasn’t an issue. We set off up the steep road on another better than forecasted morning.

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Road walks aren’t all bad as they usually sport a fair amount of roadside flowers and this walk was no exception.

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After 1.8 miles, and 900′ of elevation gain, we arrived at the Wolf Gap Trailhead.

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Given the steepness of the road we were really glad that we tackled that climb first and not at the end of our hike. From Wolf Gap we followed an actual trail uphill to the left.

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After a brief uphill the trail began to descend through a forest of ponderosa, oak and madrone.

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Here we spotted more flowers including some we hadn’t seen along the road.

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As we descended views began to open up across the valley.

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The trail then crossed an open grassy hillside twice as it switchbacked down toward the Sterling Mine Ditch Tunnel.

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The trail then reentered the forest where we passed a sign for a “Giant Double-Trunked Madrone”.

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A faint trail led off in that direction but soon petered out. We weren’t sure where the tree was and there was just enough poison oak in the underbrush that we didn’t feel like bushwacking to try and find it so we returned to the trail and continued downhill.

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Ticks were also becoming a nuisance. I was beginning to pick them up every few minutes while Heather was being mostly spared. We took to stopping whenever there was a nice area free of trail side poison oak to do some quick tick flicking.

We arrived at the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail a mile and a half from the Wolf Gap Trailhead.

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The 26.5 mile Sterling Mine Ditch was hand dug in 1877 to bring water from the Little Applegate River to gold miners digging in the Sterling Creek Hills. The trail follows the ditch at a fairly level grade along the steep hillsides.

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It was interesting to follow the ditch and the scenery was nice despite the clouds that had moved in. In fact we finally got a decent shower after being spared for the first 2 1/2 days.

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More wildflowers were found along the open hillsides.

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At one point we wound up behind a family of turkeys on the trail. It took a while to get past because every time mom would just about get everyone into the underbrush she’d pop back up onto the trail.

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We had (mostly me) knocked several dozen ticks off our pants by the time we’d seen the turkeys and had been considering bailing from the trail at the Armstrong Gulch Trailhead to road walk back to Deming Gulch since picking up ticks in the middle of the road was unlikely. The trail soon left the drier slopes and entered a greener forest where the tick sightings decreased dramatically.

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By the time we reached the side trail down to Anderson Gulch it had dawned on us that leaving the level Sterling Mine Ditch Trail for a road walk would be a lot of steep climbing so we decided to stick it out.

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Once we reached the trail down to the Armstrong Gulch Trailhead it was only another 1.5 miles back to the Deming Gulch Trailhead anyway. We enjoyed the scenery along the final stretch and had minimal tick encounters.

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Another good shower started just as we arrived back at our car. We’d timed it well and after a thorough tick check we were on our way back to Medford where we had a really good dinner at 4 Daughters Irish Pub.

The ticks had caused us to move a little faster than we would have liked. The scenery along the trail begged for a slower more observant hike. In any case it was a nice hike overall. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Sterling Mine Ditch

Categories
Hiking Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Mill Creek Falls, Lost Creek Lake, and Lower Table Rock

For our second day of our extended weekend in Medford we had planned on doing a pair of hikes to the north of town. The plan was to do a short warm-up hike at Mill Creek Falls then do a longer hike along Lost Creek Lake. As the title of this post indicates our plans changed during the course of the day and we wound up adding Lower Table Rock to the itinerary.

We started our day by driving Highway 62 from Medford just beyond milepost 42 where we turned right on Mill Creek Road and followed signs for a mile to the Mill Creek Falls Trailhead.

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A wide path led downhill a short distance to a signed junction.

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We headed right following the pointer for the falls reaching a viewpoint of 174′ Mill Creek Falls after .2 miles.

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We continued another .2 miles where we arrived at a rock outcrop whith a view of the taller (total of 3 drops), more complex, Barr Creek Falls.

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After a short stay at this viewpoint we headed back to the junction and took the left fork toward the Avenue of Giant Boulders. After a quarter mile we arrived at a sign pointing left to the boulders and right for access to the Rogue River.

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We headed right first, arriving at a little beach along the raging river.

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We then made our way over to the Avenue of Giant Boulders. The boulders location here is a result of Mt. Mazama’s eruption which resulted in Crater Lake which is over 20 miles from this location.

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The hike to the falls and the boulders came in as 1.6 miles on our Garmin leaving plenty of gas in our tanks for the planned longer hike at Lost Creek Lake. From the Mill Creek Falls Trailhead we returned to Highway 62 and headed back toward Medford. Just before reaching a bridge over the Rogue River at Lost Creek Lake, we turned right onto Lewis Road for a mile to the Lewis Road Trailhead.

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Our plan was to take the Rogue River Trail along the lake to Lost Creek and back with a brief side trip to Blue Grotto at the 2.4 mile mark.

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The level trail was lined with various wildflowers (and plenty of poison oak) and offered occasional views of Lost Creek Lake and back to Needle Rock and its rock arch.

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Shortly after we passed a grassy hillside covered with yellow flowers I started noticing ticks.

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From that point on, until we reached the side trail to Blue Grotto, I picked up a decent number of the little parasites. It was beginning to remind us a little too much of our visit to the Illinois River the year before.

We turned up the .1 mile path to Blue Grotto and followed it to its end.

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This unique spot is another result of Crater Lake’s volcanic history. Ash from that volcano gives the rocks their color.

When we got back to the Rogue River Trail we faced a choice. We could stick with our original plan and continue another 3.4 miles to the Lost Creek Trailhead before heading back or we could declare victory here and head back now. The tick situation ahead could have been better but maybe not and we’d made it to the Blue Grotto, which was the featured attraction in our guidebook, so we decided to head back. We continued to see (and flick off) some ticks on the return trip but we also saw some more welcome wildlife.

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We were back at the Lewis Road Trailhead before 11:45am so we decided to pick out another hike to do on the way back to Medford. Our choice was Lower Table Rock.

From Lost Creek Lake we drove toward Medford to Highway 234 which we followed to Table Rock Road where we turned left and followed pointers to the trailhead just off of Wheeler Road.

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Upper Table Rock was just across some fields from the trailhead.

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The wide trail climbed gradually, at first, through wildflower dotted grasslands.

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As the trail neared Lower Table Rock it steepened, climbing up into a forest of oak and madrone trees.

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The trees began to thin near the top of the mesa, which we reached after 1.5 miles.

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The Table Rocks are known for their Spring wildflower displays and are home to some endangered species. We were a little concerned that we might be too late to see much in the way of flowers but those fears were quickly wiped away.

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An earlier spring visit would have provided different flowers and possibly a better show but the fields of winecup clarkia were spectacular and as were the displays of elegant brodiaea.

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An old airstrip is used as the trail on the mesa. Just beyond a boardwalk (to protect the vernal pools on the mesa) we turned left on a spur trail for .4 miles to an eastern viewpoint.

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From the viewpoint Upper Table Rock rose up amid the farmlands while snow helped identify some of the Cascade range despite some cloudy conditions.

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Mt. McLoughlin

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Peaks in the Sky Lakes Wilderness

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Crater Lake

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After returning to the airstrip we continued further along Lower Table Rock arriving at a southern viewpoint after about a mile.

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We watched as a number of rain showers passed by just waiting for the one that would finally drench us but all we ever got was a brief sprinkle.

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We stopped at the first south viewpoint for a while where we were joined by a ground squirrel.
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To the south was the snowy Mt. Ashland and Wagner Butte.

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and Dutchman Peak among others.

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A path led to the right following the rim out to a second viewpoint at the furthest end of the mesa.

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As it turned out the tick issues at Lost Creek Lake had turned out to be a blessing as we would not have experienced the wildflowers here otherwise. The clarkia and brodiaea stole the show but there had been others along the way.

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As great as the hike at Lower Table Rock was some of the things we witnessed there were not so great. First on the way up we passed a pair of young guys, one of which had a handful of flowers obviously picked from the mesa. Not cool. Then some fools had made cairns out of the rocks in the vernal pools, really not cool.

Next on our way back from the furthest viewpoint we noticed a couple with a dog at the other viewpoint despite the clear signs at the tailhead stating “No Dogs Beyond This Point”. Finally on our way down another young guy was busy chasing an alligator lizard through the brush. Harassing wildlife isn’t cool either but we did take a little comfort in watching the kid crash through and grab some poison oak. Hopefully the lizard got the last laugh.

We wish if people are going to visit these places that they would follow the rules and respect the areas. If they can’t do that it’d be nice if they just stayed home. Okay rant over, Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157684856053206

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