Day Trippin': Mill Creek Falls easy to miss

Day Trippin': Mill Creek Falls easy to miss

After we mentioned visiting Mill Creek Falls, a long-time Medford resident commented, "I pass it on the way to Diamond Lake and Crater Lake, but I’ve never been there."
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Trail to Charismatic Conifers

Trail to Charismatic Conifers

Those rare hikers who step past the Ides Cove Trailhead and enter Northern California's Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness Area immediately are greeted by the rock stars of the conifer world.

The trailhead is ringed by the southernmost stand of a subspecies of foxtail pine found only in the Klamath Mountains, a rare tree that can live 1,000 years or more in these hardscrabble mountains.
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Trophy trees on the Frog Pond trail

Trophy trees on the Frog Pond trail

Frog Pond is a north-facing cirque cradled in the 20,000-acre Red Buttes Wilderness Area. On the two-mile hike to its shallow shores, you will encounter some of the most majestic forests I've seen in southwest Oregon.

Trees that reach five feet in diameter are common. You'll find rare plants, including a very special conifer tree that grows only in the Klamath Mountains.

It will come at a price. You'll gain about 1,000 feet in elevation in the first three-quarters of a mile and...

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Enjoying Pilot Rock — minus the heights

Enjoying Pilot Rock — minus the heights

I’m told that any locals who consider themselves avid hikers need to climb Pilot Rock, a landmark familiar to all Southern Oregonians. I’m also told that the way to the top involves some grueling scrambles over loose talus, and has been known to cause adults to tremble, especially ones afraid of heights.

Being one of those unfortunates who dread climbing a ladder to change a bulb in the kitchen, I have no desire to fool with Pilot Rock, thank you. Yet I am fascinated by...

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Winter transforms trail along the Applegate River's middle fork

Winter transforms trail along the Applegate River's middle fork

The Middle Fork Applegate River has become a popular destination all year round.

Barely south of the California-Oregon border and within minutes of Applegate Lake, the roaded stretches along the Middle Fork offer easy access to swimming holes and beaches for free day use. Last spring, I saw a group of 50 to 75 partygoers dancing nude to reggae music blasting on giant speakers here, and the trash I've packed out of dump sites told some very interesting stories defined by alcohol, angst,....

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Great Pizza Adventure on the PCT

Great Pizza Adventure on the PCT

With the movie “Wild” bringing so much attention to the Pacific Crest Trail these days, I am reminded of all the outings I’ve enjoyed on this wilderness route as it cuts through Southern Oregon.

My family and I have used it for pleasant hikes to see wildflowers and aspen trees on Mount Ashland. We were challenged by its steepness the day we veered off it to the top of Mount McLoughlin.

And then, for sheer goofiness, there was our Great Pizza Adventure on the.....

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Soda Mountain hike is tougher in winter

Soda Mountain hike is tougher in winter

Soda Mountain overlooks its namesake wilderness area, straddling the border between Oregon and California in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. It is easily accessible and from spring through autumn, a day hike to its summit is an easy 4.6-mile round-trip.

In winter, however, the hike is transformed into an exhilarating adventure through a winter wonderland.

Some of my kids were home for the Christmas holidays and there had been a recent snowstorm in the mountains. So the...

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'Wild' about hiking

'Wild' about hiking

The popularity of Cheryl Strayed's memoir "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" has led to increased awareness and use of the trail that runs from Canada to Mexico through Washington, Oregon and California. There are more thru-hikers — people who, like Strayed, attempt to hike the entire trail — and more day and overnight users of this incredible national resource.

Now "Wild" has been made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern,...

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Hobart Bluff offers top-notch views

Hobart Bluff offers top-notch views

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is popular in spring among bird watchers. Summer months bring on the flowers and the Pacfic Crest Trail hikers. Then comes fall, and the parking areas fill in with hunters hoping to bag their bounty before hunting season closes. Late fall and winter have just as much to offer.
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Tree hunt amid the king of conifers

Tree hunt amid the king of conifers

Tub Springs Oregon State Wayside is most famous for the sweet water that travelers stop for. The high-country spring was plumbed into a fountain in the 1930s and has been a nice resting stop ever since.

But there's more to Tub Springs than water. It's got an impressive old-growth grove worth checking out and is a perfect place for little ones to explore in relatively gentle terrain. Nestled at about 4,200-foot elevation and adjacent the the Cascade Siskiyou...

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Abbott Butte trek lifts the spirit

Abbott Butte trek lifts the spirit

If walls could talk, oh, the stories that the Abbott Butte fire lookout tower could tell.

The long-retired lookout is a remnant of a different era when a Forest Service flush with funding and purpose invested in administrative and recreational infrastructure on public lands and kept a sharp eye out for wildfire from remote peaks offering sweeping views.

Most of those old lookouts are long gone, but the Abbott Butte tower is still standing, although admittedly with a tilt that...

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Trail tenders

Trail tenders

MARIAL —  While working in the summer of 2005 as a caretaker of the famed Rogue River Ranch along the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, Gabe Howe explored a handful of old spur trails off the Rogue River National Recreation Trail.

"You could see even then how these trails hadn't gotten much maintenance," Howe says.
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Easy is good

Easy is good

The question I've been asked more times than any other is, "What are the best easy hikes in Oregon?"

It's not a simple question to answer, because some people love mountains and others love coast; some want massive trees and others want high desert. Plus, what's easy for one person might not be for another, and the location of the best easy hikes are often spread far and wide across the state.
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Scenic byway showcases colors of the Cascades

Scenic byway showcases colors of the Cascades

When my wife and I took a four-day trip to Central Oregon last week, our main goal was to see autumn colors. What we didn’t expect was the manifold forms those colors would take along the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway, the 130-mile loop from Sisters into the high Cascades and back.
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Scenic with a capital 'S'

Scenic with a capital 'S'

The historic Sterling Mine Ditch Trail is Southern Oregon's first state-designated scenic trail.
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New trails could garner scenic designation

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is taking applications for trails to be nominated as scenic or regional, as well as bike paths for the Scenic Bikeways program.
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Visiting Oregon Caves via Mount Elijah

Visiting Oregon Caves via Mount Elijah

The winds had shifted and pushed the smoke from the forest fires south. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the day beckoned. We gathered that morning to load our gear into one pickup and then ourselves into two other vehicles. The plan was for Tom Gilley and Tom Murphy to transport our overnight gear to the Oregon Caves, where we would meet up with them after a long hike.

Those of us traveling to the Sturgis Fork trailhead agreed to meet at the Applegate Store before turning up.....

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View from the Butte

View from the Butte

Bear Basin Butte Lookout sits high atop a narrow mountain ridge. As my wife and I walk the steep path up to it, lizards scurry through the manzanita bushes. Swallows dip and glide overhead.
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Oregon's Top 5 wilderness areas

Oregon's Top 5 wilderness areas

Oregon has 47 wilderness areas. On the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964, outdoors writer Zach Urness shares his 5 favorites.
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Trails less traveled

Trails less traveled

The latest hiking book focused on Southern Oregon is called "Hiking Oregon & California's Wild Rivers Country," and it stands out from several other recent offerings in two important ways.

First, Illinois Valley author Justin Rohde has chosen the wild Illinois, Chetco and Smith rivers as his territory, a region that features many trails less traveled, several on U.S. Forest Service or BLM land that you won't find on official maps or in other guides.

Second, Rohde has made use....

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July 25, 2014

Tearing up the Trail

July 20, 2014

Southern exposure

July 11, 2014

Boomers on the Trail

June 27, 2014

Blossom by boot

June 22, 2014

'Meet me on the trail'

May 25, 2014

It's the small things

April 20, 2014

Wilderness guide

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