Saturday, March 26, 2016

Cathedral Hills Park -- Wild Rose & Outback Loop Trails

March 23, 2016

Since it is Spring Break week, we decided to head over to Cathedral Hills Park and see all the wildflowers that are making their Spring Break -- literally millions!!!

Time to get out and hike!
We started off by driving highway 238 from Jacksonville to the park in Grants Pass.  It is such a nice scenic drive at this time of year with all the farms and animals.  We even saw a rafter of wild turkeys!  Once we reached Espy road it was just a short drive to the parking lot at this trailhead (the park has 3 trailheads) and there were already lots of cars. It didn't take long to catch sight of the thousands of Indian Warriors that come out at this park in Spring.

Indian Warrior

A clump of Indian Warriors

We decided to hike two routes that have been our favorites over the last few years, so the hikes were not new,  but the sight of all the wildflowers was amazing!

The first loop consisted of the Backside Loop, the W trail, and the Wild Rose loop.  We hiked by patches of Indian Warriors, Shooting Stars, Buttercups, Saxifrage, Houndstongue, Desert Parsley and Fawn Lillies en route to the Wild Rose loop and enjoyed a couple of viewpoints of the valley.  Most of this hike was shaded and in amongst the trees, so in addition to wildflowers we were treated to lots of green ferns and moss and encountered many small creeks crossing the trail.  The Wild Roses are not in bloom this early, so this loop makes a great hike later in Spring when the other wildflowers are done blooming.

Fawn Lilies

Shooting Stars

One viewpoint on the W trail.  Snow capped mountains in background

Desert Parsley

Fungus thingy
We also saw a lot of poison oak.  Yes, staying on the trail is a good rule to follow when hiking here, unless you really want to experience the effects of poison oak contact after your hike.

Poison Oak was plentiful along trails at Cathedral Hills Park

After completing this first hike (3.4 miles), we took a break back at the trailhead to get refueled.  The park has picnic benches/tables available as well as benches out on the trails where you can sit down, take a break, and enjoy the beauty and quiet.

Trail signs are everywhere and easy to follow.

View of Outback trail.
We then hiked the Outback Loop with a side trail on the Ponderosa Pine Loop, a total of another 3.8 miles.  We have hiked this loop in both directions and prefer to hike it counterclockwise.  This loop had even more creeks crossing the trail and there were lots of muddy spots along the trail as well.

One of the flooded areas on the Ponderosa trail

View of the hills along the trail
Eventually the trail heads up to the ridges and we were treated to the buzzing of bees as they enjoyed the blooms on the Manzanita plants.  We also saw some Grass Widows and Fritillaria wildflowers on this loop which was a real treat.


Grass Widow

Combined, the hikes took us a total of 3 hours to complete, but the views and wildflowers were worth it.  We would recommend either loop if you want to see wildflowers, but there are also many other trail combinations you can hike that include shorter routes.  Regardless, get out and see the wildflowers wherever you are.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

One last view of Indian Warrior wildflowers

1 comment:

  1. Wow lots of warriors, a veritable tribe of them. About hound's tongue: I believe it was named after my ex-wife! And your "fratillia" is actually "fritillaria" but hey, we are hikers not Latin linguists! I was out on the Illinois River Trail last weekend came back with a few rashes thanks (not really) to the poison oak.