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MailTribune.com
  • Five for the Road

    Five local hikes to help you clear room for Thanksgiving leftovers
  • The turkey wasn't the problem, though the gravy it floated in might have played a part. And the second piece of pumpkin pie wouldn't have caused a disturbance if it wasn't for the third dollop of whipped cream, which didn't sit well with the fourth deviled egg. Don't even think about all the butter in those mashed potatoes.
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  • The turkey wasn't the problem, though the gravy it floated in might have played a part. And the second piece of pumpkin pie wouldn't have caused a disturbance if it wasn't for the third dollop of whipped cream, which didn't sit well with the fourth deviled egg. Don't even think about all the butter in those mashed potatoes.
    The best remedy for a food hangover is to lift your gluteus off the couch today and head outdoors. Picking your feet up and setting them down on a hiking trail will put you on the path to recovery and create the belly room you'll need for a second round of stuffing, turkey and pie this afternoon.
    To help, we've got five recommendations for nearby trails that are perfect for curing what ails you.
    Here's a look:
    The Upper Rogue River Trail between Prospect and Union Creek is a great place to take out-of-town visitors who want an authentic Oregon experience — including a river that disappears underground — without working up a sweat.
    The trail follows the river through miles of basically flat terrain, and there are some huge trees right beside the river. Forest roads cross the trail at several points along the way, so you can organize a shuttle if your party is traveling in several cars.
    To reach the trail, take Highway 62 past the hordes of Black Friday shoppers and head east and north for about 45 miles to Prospect. Look for the Prospect Ranger Station on your left as you enter national forest land.
    Continuing north toward Union Creek there are several places to reach the trail. Forest Road 6210 (about three miles north of Prospect) crosses the river at a campground called, aptly enough, River Bridge.
    Walking upstream from River Bridge, the trail passes through old-growth timber alongside the river. Three miles upstream the trail enters Takelma Gorge, a narrow chasm the river has cut through the lava rock.
    If you walk another 1.5 miles, you'll reach Woodruff Bridge, where Forest Road 68 crosses the Rogue. The trail continues upstream from Woodruff to Natural Bridge, where the river disappears into subterranean lava tubes. A short road links Highway 62 with Natural Bridge. If you start your hike at Woodruff, it's 3.5 miles to Natural Bridge.
    Even if your guests aren't into hiking, you might still be able to lure them out of the house for a drive through the fine stand of old-growth that lines Highway 62 all the way from Prospect to Union Creek.
    Pull over beside one of the big sugar pines along the highway and you can probably find them a souvenir on the forest floor. Mature sugar pine cones typically run to 12 to 16 inches.
    Don't know a sugar pine? They're easy to find. Just look up. The sugar pine cones always hang at the ends of branches.
    At Union Creek you can show them the Rogue Gorge right from the car, where the river plunges noisily through a small constricted pass, and there's an asphalt path at the gorge for anyone who wants a closer look.
    There's a reason that Mail Tribune readers vote the Table Rocks as the best place to hike year after year in the newspaper's annual Readers' Choice poll.
    The 7-million-year-old, flat-topped mesas are right there in front of your face, making them seem like old friends, and the botanical displays on top change by the month.
    While the rocks may be best known for spring wildflowers, fall colors are abundant, as well. The poison oak so prevalent off the trail has turned a beautiful scarlet color this time of year, which contrasts with the whites, yellows and oranges of lichens and the changing colors of black oaks and Western white oaks.
    The rocks are tall enough to get the blood flowing, but the trails are short enough that you don't have to be in top shape to reach the top.
    The Upper Table Rock Trail is shorter (2.8 miles round trip), with an elevation gain of about 720 feet. The hike up Lower Table Rock is about 5.4 miles up and back, with an elevation gain of 780 feet.
    To get there from Medford, take Table Rock Road north and cross the Rogue River. To reach Upper Table Rock, follow Table Rock Road to the Modoc Road intersection, turn right on Modoc Road and continue for 1 mile to the trailhead, which is on the left side of the road.
    To reach Lower Table Rock, follow Table Rock Road past Modoc Road to Wheeler Road. Turn left on Wheeler Road and continue about one-half mile to reach the trailhead, which is on the left side of the road.
    Make sure to bring drinking water and maybe a turkey sandwich to eat on top. Pets are not allowed, even on leashes. Both trailheads have restrooms.
    The 1,700-acre Medford city park, also known as Roxy Ann Peak, features a half-dozen short trails and nice views of the valley, and the road up to the park offers a steady climb, so you can mix and match yourself into a long hike with lots of side loops, or you can pick a short loop or two, depending on your motivation level and the number of gravy-induced calories you want to burn off.
    The peak is 3,571 feet high and stands more than 2,000 feet above the valley floor.
    To get there, head east on Hillcrest Road and turn left onto Roxy Ann Drive, where you'll see a park sign. Stay on this road until you reach the first gate, which is typically open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the fall. If it's locked, you can continue on foot. If the gate is open, you can drive to the second gate, which is as far as you can go by car. No vehicles are allowed in the park.
    Because it's flat as a table top, a Greenway outing will be more of a walk than a hike, but the beauty of it is that the paved trail is accessible from anyplace in the valley, with numerous access points, and it's long enough — running from Ashland to Central Point — that you can walk as far as you want.
    The Greenway is lined with deciduous, broadleaf trees such as black cottonwood, Oregon ash, willows and black oak, so you'll get to see some late-fall colors, and you might even spot some chinook salmon spawning in Bear Creek.
    If your holiday visitors have never seen Ashland's crown jewel, a trip to Lithia Park is well worth the short trip.
    The 93-acre park in the heart of downtown follows Ashland Creek through undeveloped woodlands, with a Japanese garden, two duck ponds, a formal rose garden, groves of exquisite trees and a number of secluded spots. Plus it hooks up into Ashland's extensive woodlands trail system, so it would take weeks to hike all of the trails leading out of the park and all the way up to Mount Ashland. You can download a Lithia Park trails map from the city's website at http://ashland.or.us/Files/Lithia_Burnson.pdf.
    Reach Mail Tribune features editor David Smigelski at 541-776-8784 or dsmigelski@mailtribune.com. Bill Kettler and Sarah Lemon contributed to this story.
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