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Enchantment in the Applegate

April and May are the best months to see wildflowers on the easy-to-moderate Enchanted Forest Trail in the Applegate Valley, as most of the trail lies below 2,500 feet in elevation and is virtually snow-free all year.

A green metal gate and BLM sign marks the trailhead at the end of the pavement on Slagle Creek Road. Park on the side of the road, but don't block either of the graveled private driveways nearby.

The trail begins in a forest of young oak and madrone. Magenta Indian warrior, purple shooting star and tiny yellow lomatium dot the forest floor here. Watch for the ubiquitous poison oak.

At the half-mile mark you'll see the remains of a Depression-era truck immediately before entering an older forest. For the next 1.1 miles to the ridge saddle you'll see some of the few remaining patches of low-elevation, old-growth forest in Southern Oregon.

Douglas fir and Oregon oak with occasional Ponderosa pine giants are the dominant trees in this corridor that follows a seasonal stream. Thick clumps of big-leaf maple indicate the marshier areas. Watch for white trillium near the stream bed.

At the .7-mile mark, a trail sign points to the right for 1.5-mile long Felton Memorial Trail. This side trail follows a gently-sloping path through a younger forest. Watch for the occasional yellow arrowleaf balsamroot and arnica in late spring. After a quarter mile you are treated to several views of the Slagle Creek valley, with its many vineyards.

The trail ends at a marble and metal plaque in the ground commemorating three men killed on March 16, 1993 in a helicopter crash during a timber operation. The men were BLM employee Jeffrey Felton, pilot Dale Siegel and logger Karl Hansen.

Continuing along the main trail, the grade steepens until you reach a ridge saddle at the 1.6-mile mark. Along the way, you have a few expansive views of the Applegate Valley. The trail forks here. Avoid the uphill trail, as it soon crosses onto private timberland. Continue downhill for another .9 miles until you see a trail branching to the left. This, too, leads to private land. This trail junction makes a good turnaround point, as you have now hiked 2.5 miles.

This BLM trail is open for foot and horse traffic, but closed to motorized vehicles. With BLM budget cuts affecting trail maintenance, neighbors Jim and Annette Clover do most of the trail maintenance here.

To reach the trail, head west from Jacksonville on Highway 238 for 15 miles. Bear right on North Applegate Road just before reaching the Applegate shopping center. Continue 4.6 miles, bear right on Kubli Road. Turn right after 200 yards on Slagle Creek Road. The paved road ends at 1.5 miles.

Daniel Newberry is a freelance writer living in the Applegate Valley. Reach him at dnewberry@jeffnet.org.