Trails in the Ashland Watershed will reopen for hikers and bikers this weekend

Trails in the Ashland Watershed will reopen for hikers and bikers this weekend

ASHLAND — The intersection of the Catwalk and Toothpick trails is a good place to survey changes that will greet hikers and bikers this weekend in the outdoor playground known as the Ashland Watershed.

For years the watershed has sported a dense forest canopy and thick underbrush that curbed visibility so completely that mountain bikers bombing down Toothpick would surprise uphill hikers and vice versa.

"There is that element of surprise," says Chamise Kramer, a...

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South Fork Smith River is a gem

South Fork Smith River is a gem

Big wildlands? Wild and Scenic rivers? Old-growth forests? Remote hiking trails? The Siskiyou Wilderness Area has you covered. In particular, the South Kelsey Trailhead on the South Fork Smith River provides year-round access to adventure and natural wonders.

Long prized for its wild steelhead and considered one of the clearest rivers in California, the South Fork Smith River is largely undiscovered as a hiking destination — particularly upstream of the rustic Buck Creek Shelter....

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Trilliums love redwoods

Trilliums love redwoods

Early spring is more subdued in the redwood forests than it is in the Rogue Valley, where colorful flowers are popping everywhere you look. In the damp and shady woods, only one wildflower was proliferating when I was there in March — the western white trillium.

But, boy, was it ever. They lined trails in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park like those solar torches everyone has in their garden these days. Each redwood tree seemed to have its own personal trillium blazing beside...

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Snowshoeing with the Smiths

Snowshoeing with the Smiths

CRATER LAKE — "Girls," Larry Smith told a trio of pre-teens, "would you get off the picnic tables please?"

The three girls looked stunned. There wasn't a picnic table in sight, only fields of snow punctuated by occasional hemlock trees. Smith, who was leading a snowshoe walk near Crater Lake National Park's Rim Village, allowed his straight face to break into a smile as he explained that, yes, the girls and others in our group were indeed standing atop picnic tables, but the...

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Free hike series starts Saturday

Free hike series starts Saturday

The Southern Oregon Land Conservancy has scheduled a series of spring hikes, and a major focus will be a special chunk of land along the Rogue River that the organization is trying to purchase and preserve.

Five of the 13 hikes in the series, including Saturday's kick-off hike, will be at the so-called "Rogue River Preserve," a 352-acre ranch owned by the heirs of former Mail Tribune publisher Robert Ruhl.

The conservancy is in the midst of a $3.5 million capital campaign to buy.....

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Climb to the craggy crest

Climb to the craggy crest

Travelers along Interstate 5 in far Northern California can't help but notice the Castle Crags, a grouping of towering, jagged granite peaks that rise definitely and dramatically above the forest-lined highway. The Crags have inspired other names. The Wintu Indians called them the Abode of the Devil while Spanish explorers dubbed the region Castle del Diablo, or Castle of the Devil.

Instead of driving past, a group of mostly Rogue Valley hikers, led by Klamath Falls' Hans Kuhr, left...

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More trails coming to Medford's Prescott Park

Work will start this summer on a project to add more hiking, biking, jogging and equestrian trails to Prescott Park, which includes Roxy Ann Peak.

The Medford Parks and Recreation Department secured $75,000 in state funding to add to the $200,000 it has budgeted for major improvements to the park, said Brian Sjothun, director of the department.

Earlier this week, a master plan for the 1,740-acre park was approved by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. Although the park is.....

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Siskiyou Mountain Club explores plans to repair foot bridges on the Illinois River Trail

Siskiyou Mountain Club explores plans to repair foot bridges on the Illinois River Trail

The Illinois River Trail snakes 28 miles through the spectacular backcountry of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area and across some of the most productive wild steelhead nurseries in North America — but the trail has some weak links.

The weakest link may very well be a 22-foot wooden bridge over Clear Creek Gorge. It's a tenuous span with rotted supports and missing guard rails, at risk of degrading to a point where it becomes the equivalent of a "No Trespassing" sign.

"You...

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Stunning snowshoe trek on Santiam Pass

Stunning snowshoe trek on Santiam Pass

Before last week, I knew almost nothing about Ikenick Sno-Park.

The winter recreation spot is located near Santiam Pass — off Highway 126 — but sits at such a low elevation there’s been almost zero snow there the past two seasons.

Call it a snowless sno-park.

Internet searches yield little on the area’s recreation, beyond the fact that you can snowshoe, ski and snowmobile there.

Yet I was curious.

The book “Snowshoe Routes:...

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Cross-country ski trip to Fourmile Lake

Cross-country ski trip to Fourmile Lake

This was a different side of Mount McLoughlin.

Inside the Fourmile Lake Cabin, my cross-country skiing partner Niel Barrett was tending the wood stove, stoking a reluctant fire. While he worked, I fought off the chill outside, stomping in the snow while being warmed by the sight of the frozen-over lake and, more dramatically, McLoughlin, the 9,495-foot peak that straddles the Southern Oregon Cascades.
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Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail provides glimpse into the past

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail provides glimpse into the past

You can get a taste of what Southern Oregon's coastal forests looked like before Lewis & Clark with an easy one-mile hike on the Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail 1172.

To get there from Gold Beach, head east on Jerry's Flat Road (County Road 595). After about 10 miles, you'll enter the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and see Lobster Creek Campground on the road's north side. From there head south on FSR 090, following signs to the Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail.

The...

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Pine Flat trail shows off natural and man-made wonders

Pine Flat trail shows off natural and man-made wonders

The hike into Pine Flat is one of the more popular backpacks in the 180,000-acre Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

The trail is a moderate six miles and leads to a dreamy meadow adjacent to a remote section of the Wild & Scenic Illinois River. In the summer, Pine Flat is probably the only place in the Kalmiopsis interior where you might actually see a person, or even a group.

But with a high point of about 1,700 feet, Pine Flat can be all yours this winter or spring as the transient...

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5 winter trails to get you ready for summer trails

5 winter trails to get you ready for summer trails

If you want to cover ground next summer on the Pacific Crest Trail, or climb Mount McLoughlin, or explore any of the numerous high-elevation trails in Southern Oregon and Northern California, it's a good idea to go outside and get prepared.
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Timberline Trail set to reopen in 2017

Timberline Trail set to reopen in 2017

One of the most spectacular trails in the United States — and perhaps the most iconic pathway in Oregon — is scheduled to reopen in full by the summer of 2017.

The Timberline Trail, a 40-mile circuit of Mount Hood, has been partly closed since 2006 when a debris flow destroyed a bridge and washed out a large swath of trail near Eliot Glacier field.

The washout forced hikers to either navigate to a more difficult crossing or simply cut their trip short.

The...

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5 spectacular snowshoe spots

5 spectacular snowshoe spots

With a big, fat snowpack sitting on top of the mountains that surround our valley, this would be a good winter to finally learn how to snowshoe.

Snowshoers often say, "If you can walk, you can snowshoe," and while that's true to an extent, snowshoeing is a lot tougher than walking, so get ready for a good workout.
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Trail builders: Bike, hike and ski trails developed on Spence Mountain

Trail builders: Bike, hike and ski trails developed on Spence Mountain

The views are incredible from viewpoints along the Spence Mountain Trail, Southern Oregon's newest network of trails. Depending on the vantage, the panorama can include Mount Shasta, Upper Klamath Lake, the Cascades peaks surrounding Crater Lake and Mount McLoughlin.

"It's even better than we imagined," said Drew Honzel, a member of the Klamath Trails Alliance, the Klamath Falls-based outdoor group that's developing Spence Mountain, of sights along and from the trail.

Creating...

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Ashland watershed trail network to be expanded and upgraded

Ashland watershed trail network to be expanded and upgraded

ASHLAND — Mountain bikers barreling down legit trails built for hikers and horseback riders were already causing headaches for Ashland watershed managers in 2011, but then things began to get egregious on a little stretch of hiking heaven called Marty's Trail.

Someone drove a backhoe around a trail gate and dug in a series of bumps and jumps for "downhiller" cyclists, much to the chagrin of darn near everyone else.  

"That was a bold move," says Jeffrey...

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Hike among fragrant myrtles beside a world-class river

Hike among fragrant myrtles beside a world-class river

The Wild Rivers Coast is conifer country.

The towering firs and monumental redwoods define the Southern Oregon and Northern California coasts. But a very important tree to the area's history is often overlooked, and it's got a few names: Oregon myrtle, California laurel, bay.

Check out one of the only preserves of Umbellularia californica at Alfred Loeb State Park, spitting distance from Brookings.

This park in the deep southwest pocket of Oregon was originally purchased by....

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Hike to Thunder Rock Cove can crackle or calm

Hike to Thunder Rock Cove can crackle or calm

Samuel Boardman was Oregon's first parks superintendent, and he built a career on the vision of securing the future of public places.

A road engineer by trade, he went on to negotiate with private landowners to donate or sell their property below market value for the greater good.

The culmination of his career came with the Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor. The park runs 12 miles along the Southern Oregon Coast between Brookings and Gold Beach and is one of the most...

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Day Trippin': Solitude in the Siskiyous

Day Trippin': Solitude in the Siskiyous

Editor's Note: Day Trippin' is a recurring feature that gives readers a chance to play tour guide and tell us about a nearby getaway.

The hustle and bustle of the holidays are already upon us, so it is a great time to take a pleasant drive and hike to absorb some of nature's cool and colorful medicine.

To really get away from it all for a few hours, I like to drive to the Galice area, where I have numerous places to hike or enjoy one of the prettiest stretches of the...

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November 13, 2015

Happy trails in the mountains

October 04, 2015

Outside-in at The Rock

August 28, 2015

Treasures of the Lost Coast

July 23, 2015

View from above

June 14, 2015

Journey of a Lifetime

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