Tag Archives: Medford

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

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

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

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