Ashland's Oredson-Todd Woods and Siskiyou Mountain Park trails cover more than 271 acres combined. No, the area is not wild, primitive and unconfined; it is a park. And yes, you are going to see people, especially on sunny weekends. But the Oredson-Todd Woods are fun, and getting lost in them is very much worth a few hours.
There are many routes that could be taken, but this particular way, which you can view online on a digital map, is almost all along trails designated for hikers — only it is a loop, and it stretches two moderately challenging miles. Leave the mountain bike at home, but bring the pooch — just remember to pick up after it.
Ashland city trails map: http://goo.gl/McYsg
USGS interactive map of my route: http://goo.gl/injTN
Fall pictures: http://goo.gl/kFfOI
To get to the Oredson-Todd trailhead, head south on Tolman Creek Road from Siskiyou Boulevard in Ashland. Less than half a mile from Siskiyou, turn right on Green Meadow Drive, and after a couple of blocks, take a left on Lupine, where there is a parking area and a map.
Follow the signs up the paved footpath for about a quarter-mile, past a few houses, to another trailhead on the right where a trail enters the woods, along with another sign. Follow it, staying left at a few junctions that you may or may not notice.
After about four-tenths of a mile from the paved path, the trail crosses Hamilton Creek, where there is a 10-foot slide over a granitic outcrop. It's been called Ashland's secret waterfall, but in dry times, it's not much more than a vertical, moist rock with a pool below it.
And it's definitely not secret, but pictures of it are worth stopping for. More worthy of camera clicks are the fall colors projected by a filter of yellow maple leaves.
After crossing Hamilton Creek, you'll ascend quickly to a junction. Head left, continuing your ascent along this multi-use trail. The woods break into an opening where there is a park bench, as well as another junction. Head right along the wide path, parallel the direction of the bench.
You should start a gentle descent and be on the Lower White Rabbit Trail, so yield to equestrians, keep your eyes peeled for mountain bikers (this is a multi-use trail), and follow an orange triangular sign on the trail's right side just a few minutes from the bench. It will take you over a couple of rutted-out switchbacks, then to another junction.
Head right, straight back to the waterfall, or go left to extend the hike along the Clay Creek Loop, which will also bring you back to the waterfall. This system of city trails can be confusing to navigate, and a wrong turn could bring you to another parking area.
On the ground, trails have names such as Clay Creek Loop. On the city trail map, however, the trails are shown but not named, which can make it hard to figure out exactly where you are. And picking out discrepancies between maps is enough to drive a cartographer mad. That, along with the views and scenery, is what makes hiking through the Oredson-Todd Woods and Siskiyou Mountain Park so much fun.
There are infinite routes to find and hours of meandering to be had in a small area. You don't really need a map for areas such as this. Your memories become the map.
Freelance writer Gabriel Howe is executive director and field coordinator for the Siskiyou Mountain Club. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.