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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 operated by the city of Medford, it falls outside its city limits and urban growth boundary.

Approximately 10 miles of new trails will be added to the park, and a few miles of existing trails will be improved, Sjothun said.

The state grant and parks department funding will cover the trail work as well as a new parking area and trailhead, he said.

Future improvements, which haven't been funded yet, include an archery range, an off-leash area for dogs, restrooms and potentially a caretaker's facility, Sjothun said.

Local trail users are celebrating the coming improvements to scenic Prescott Park, which provides panoramic views of the Rogue Valley from Roxy Ann Peak on Medford's eastern outskirts.

Some of the trails will be earmarked for mountain bikers, while others will be for hikers and some will be multi-use, said Rogue Valley Mountain Bike Association President Lewis Hollingworth, co-owner of Unreal Cycles in Central Point.

Hollingworth said the trail system will benefit the local community and draw tourists to the area.

"We truly believe it's not just the local mountain bike riders who will take advantage of the park," he said. "It will be a boost to local tourism and the economy and will bring people from outside the area to our region."

Hollingworth said Ashland is already known as a mountain-biking destination because of the extensive trail network stretching throughout forested land between the city and Mount Ashland.

The town of Rogue River has the new Mountain of the Rogue trail system on its outskirts. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management Medford District built the new seven-mile system in 2015 in cooperation with mountain-biking enthusiasts.

"The improvements for Prescott Park are a big deal for Medford," Hollingworth said. "It's an opportunity to put the Rogue Valley on the map as a cycling destination more than it already is."

Travel Medford, which encourages tourism to Medford, has endorsed the project.

The Rogue Valley Mountain Bike Association has signed an agreement to help maintain the trails. Members already do work on trail systems near Ashland, Jacksonville and Grants Pass. Conversations are underway to have other groups such as runners' clubs join in the maintenance work, Hollingworth said.

Sjothun said the Medford Parks and Recreation Department will offer naming rights and sponsorship opportunities for the trails, just as it did with the U.S. Cellular Community Park in Medford. Revenue from those opportunities will go into a trail maintenance fund.

U.S. Cellular Community Park hosted 45 sports tournaments and other events and generated $11 million in economic stimulus for the area in 2015, according to research conducted by the Medford Parks Department.

"Hopefully it will encourage people from the community to go outdoors and utilize that park for recreational activities — whether it's for running, hiking or biking," Hollingworth said.

Prescott Park can be accessed from Roxy Ann Drive off Hillcrest Road.

For more information about the park, including a trail map, see www.ci.medford.or.us/Files/Prescott%20Brochure.pdf.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.