Thursday, February 18, 2016

Joseph H Stewart State Park - Rogue River Trail

February 15, 2016

Since we had Presidents Day off, what better way to spend it than hiking!  So in honor of George, Thomas Abe, & Teddy (and the rest of the presidents), we took Katie and drove up highway 62 to Joseph H Stewart State Park and Lost Creek Lake.  Ok, technically it is a State Recreation Area, but to us it's a State Park.

This could be an interesting hike?!?!?

There are so many options for hiking or biking at this park.  You can take a short hike along marked nature trails or try to hike/bike the 17 mile loop around Lost Creek Lake.  Our hike started in the day use area by the lake as we trekked along the paved bike path towards the campground and Peyton Bridge.
Nice wide paved bike path near the start of our hike
Along the way we ventured in and out of thickly forested areas, some with very large Madrone trees.We also passed many waterfalls and creeks, all of which have plenty of water this year.

Mostly cloudy skies, but still a nice upward view.

Trail through area with large Madrone trees
One of the many streams/creeks that we passed.

Once we arrived at the campground, the bike path took us along a large open meadow area with some very large and very old oak trees.  This meadow continued almost to Peyton Bridge, which is where our trail took a sharp left turn and began to follow the shoreline of Lost Creek Lake and became the Rogue River trail.
One of the large oak trees in the meadow area
Having left the meadow, we were now back into the forested areas and encountered deer along the way. Katie wanted to make friends with the deer, but they would have none of it.  They would look at us for a few moments and then disappear into the woods with a few quick bounds. In addition to some greats views of the lake, we continued to cross many streams/creeks, some with waterfalls, via multiple wooden bridges on the trail.  At one point we went off-trail so we could see the large falls that we heard from the trail.  Unfortunately it was very hard to photograph with all the underbrush and shrubs.

Can you find the deer?  We did.
At times the paved trail was covered with green moss which only added to the already very green woods.  It was along these portions that we spotted a different color -  a faint glint of purple -- could it be, yes!!!  Our first glimpse of wildflowers --- Snow Queens almost to the point of full bloom!!  It won't be long till the Spring flower blooms are everywhere!

Lost Creek Lake

Snow Queen --- spring is coming!
Even as we finished our hike along the marina and store area, we were still treated to more beauty.  The river inlet at the marina, which normally has very little water,  if any, was quite full and very beautiful with a small waterfall as it made it's entry into the marina.
View of the inlet stream upper canyon area

Inlet stream flowing into the marina area.

The marina.  End of the hike for us.

Our total hike was just 6 miles along a mostly flat paved trail.  But in those few hours we were treated to meadows, forests, creeks, streams, waterfalls, the lake, deer, flowers and the wonderful smells and sounds that go with them.  It made us almost want to shout BULLY in honor of TR.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Jacksonville Forest Park

February 13, 2016

Here in Southern Oregon we are lucky to have a lot of hiking trails within a driving range of 20 minutes: Jacksonville Woodland Trails; Roxy Ann/Prescott Park; Oredson-Todd Woods; Upper and Lower Table Rocks; and the Jacksonville Forest Park.
Main hiking/biking info board at parking area 1 - maps are in the box at lower right
Of these local hikes, we have hiked the Jacksonville Forest Park the least - maybe 3 times in the last 3 years.  This was due to rough roads, the lack of a trail map, and the lack of signage on the trails. However improvements have and are being made, such as additional parking areas along improved roads, trail maps are now available at parking area 1 along with biking route maps based on mileage, and many additional trail signs/pointers have been added along the different routes.  They are also expanding the trail network and now have 22 trails with more on the way. So each time you visit, you can create a new hiking route. All of this meant it was time for us to hike at the Jacksonville Forest Park again.
Oh the places you'll go -- so many options!!  
Despite the cloudy and cool conditions, we enjoyed hiking a 5.4 loop that consisted of eight trails. Here is a brief summary of each segment along with some pictures:
  • The Ol' Miners trail was a steep and steady climb from Parking Area 1 up to the ridge.  This trail was built on water ditches that were dug 150 years ago by gold miners and takes you through an old mining area with a few pieces of mining equipment left behind.
  • The Boulder trail was also built on the water ditches that fed the mining area.  Despite the name, we only saw two large boulders while hiking, so maybe the boulder was really under our feet and larger than we thought!
  • The Canyon Falls trail (upper segment) was one of the prettiest trail segments we hiked today.  It runs along Jackson and Norling Creeks which feature many small waterfalls.  With all the recent rains, the creeks were full and there were plenty of waterfalls for viewing and picture taking.
  • The Canyon Vista trail was a relatively flat trail that connects two canyons.  Despite the name, we noticed very few (if any) vistas during our hike.  Of course we did not hike the entire trail, just the first segment, so maybe the vistas are all on the second portion of this trail.
  • The Jackson Creek trail was the other favorite trail segment for today.  It follows Jackson Creek slowly downhill and much like the Canyon Falls trail, provided us with many small waterfalls to view.  This area is also very shaded so there was lots of green along the trail from moss and ferns. Katie enjoyed this segment too since she could wade into the creek which at times is only inches away from the trail.
  • The Canyon Falls trail (lower segment) was even better than the upper segment in that some of the waterfalls and water-slides were larger than the upper segment.  We would recommend you hike the entire segment if you like the sound of water and enjoy viewing waterfalls. During summer though, this creek is dry, so get out early in the year.
  • The Norling trail continues down along Jackson Creek and after crossing a bridge, took us to the upper end of the reservoir.  Normally this reservoir is dry, but today it was full of water complete with a few ducks enjoying their own private lake for the Valentine's Day weekend.
  • Our last segment was the Rail Trail.  In 1916 this route was the site of the Bullis logging railroad.  There is even a replica railroad trestle built along the trail at the site of a train wreck in 1917.  
View along the Ol' Miners trail

One of the 2 boulders along the Boulder trail

Jackson Creek at times is only a few feet from the trail

A natural tunnel along the Jackson Creek trail 

One of many waterfalls on the Canyon Falls trail
The largest/longest waterfall along our hike

Can never get enough waterfalls!!!

Seems each time we hike at this park, we find bones????

Lake above the reservoir -- usually there is no water here.

The railroad trestle along the Rail Trail
As mentioned earlier, hiking at the Jacksonville Forest Park allows you to plan a different route each time you visit or you can just create your route as you hike.  With all the improvements and options, we already have another longer hike planned and look forward to more hikes at this park in the future.  If you live the Southern Oregon area, why not get out and give these trails a try?   (Click here for the best map I could find online)

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol 

P.S.  Check out this 4-minute video on YouTube by a local news station on the Jacksonville Forest Park ---