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Since You Asked: Bear Creek originates frpm the hills near Ashland

I recently moved to a property that backs up to Bear Creek, and I'm curious about where the creek originates, the path it takes through all the towns and where it ends or empties.

It would be nice to see a map showing these details. Thanks for any info you can give. We enjoy all your tongue-in-cheek answers.

— Mary T., Talent

Wow, way to put the pressure on us, Mary! Do you know how hard it is to type when you're concentrating on keeping your tongue in your cheek?

But we are not up this creek without a paddle; in fact, we've found several paddles. For starters, we turned to the cleverly named "Highway and Street Guide for Jackson County," which is a great resource for finding your way around the county or finding where creeks start and end (the guide is $22 and available at the county's Courthouse Payment Center or the roads department in White City).

We thought we knew where Bear Creek originated — Emigrant Lake. Close, but no cigar. Bear Creek actually originates at the confluence of Emigrant Creek (which flows out of Emigrant Lake) and Walker Creek, which comes out of the hills east of Ashland. If you head for those hills on Dead Indian Memorial Road from Highway 66, the two creeks come together on the right side of the road, about three-quarters of a mile from Highway 66.

Bear Creek ends at the Rogue River, a spot that has been in the news a lot following the removal of Gold Ray Dam, which had created a more-or-less slack backwater at the mouth of Bear Creek. When the dam was removed, the creek flowed freely again, but left large areas of muddy banks that needed to be rehabilitated and reinforced to withstand heavy winter flows.

As for Bear Creek's path, it generally follows the same route as Interstate 5. After crossing under I-5 just north of Ashland's Main Street, it stays to the west side of the freeway — except for a short stretch between Talent and Phoenix — until it reaches Medford and Central Point, where it passes under the roadway several times before settling on the east side about a half-mile north of the north Medford I-5 interchange. From there, it's about 10 miles of twists and turns to the Rogue River.

The creek is accompanied by the Bear Creek Greenway from Ashland to north of Central Point, and checking out the trail is the best way to check out the creek.

A map of the Greenway is available on our website at www.mailtribune.com/greenway and at www.bearcreekgreenway.com.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.