Monday, August 29, 2016

Roxy Ann/Prescott Park - The Nameless New Trail

August 28, 2016

Roxy Ann/Prescott Park is one of those "close to home" hiking parks that we don't do postings on too often. However, since this hike was on a new trail, so new it wasn't even named or signed yet, we decided to let everyone in on the secret.

Glenn heard about this new trail while in line at the local Fred Meyer store. Seems the couple in front of him began talking to the cashier about a new trail they had hiked at Roxy Ann that moring and the cashier, an avid hiker, wanted to know more details.  Glenn chimed in that he too had hiked up there and was interested. So after a glowing account of their hike and since Fred Meyer shoppers are honest and truthful people, we decided to get this new nameless trail a try.

A portion of the new trail near the start

August here in Southern Oregon is usually known for two things:  hot weather & smoke from wildfires.  On the day we hiked, we knew we would have to start early to beat the heat but late enough to allow the first gate on the drive up to be open.  So we arrived at 8:00 am and planned on a 2-hour hike . (a little Gilligan's Island music please)

The trail was in the shade on the west side of Roxy Ann Peak 

The trail starts right at the second gate area where everyone parks.  It is on the left side of the road and takes you slightly downhill from the main road but for the most  part  parrallels the road.  Since it was early, most of this porton of trail was still in the shade.  After about a mile the trail begins a series of long switchbacks downhill till your reach the saddle area between Roxy Ann Peak and Little Roxy Ann.

Little Roxy Ann

After the switchbacks the trail begins entering the more forrested portion of the hike which was our favorite part.  The climbing and descending were mixed in with flat portions as the trail wound its's way around trees and manzanita bushes.  We came across deer a few times during this portion and there were different spots on the trail that afforded great views of both Table Rocks.
Slowly the trees begin to appear......

Even the manzanita were subject to the trail cutters.

The trail eventually made it way to the north-east side of Roxy Ann where the landscape is an Oak Savannah and mostly out in the sun.  We saw numerous large dead woodpecker trees and their residents along the trail and had some great views of Roxy Ann in one direction and Mt McLoughlin in the other direction.

Must be a few woodpeckers in the area

VIew of Roxy Ann Peak as the trail heads out into the sun 

The trail ends by tying in to the loop road near the Rock Quarry.  The distance from the start of the trail to this point is 4.3 miles.  So for most hikers, you would take a left onto the loop road and walk it around and down to get back to your car.  It would be about a 6 mile hike.  Or if  you are into long hikes, taking a break where the new trail joins the loop road and then hiking back the way you came on the same trail would take you back to your car for an 8.6 mile hike.

View of the end of the trail
View of end of the trail from the loop road - no sign, no name, just a trail

However, both of those options are not what we did, but then you probably don't want to do what we did, at least not on a hot day.  When we arrived at the loop road we saw another new trail right across the road and thought it was a continuation of the trail we had hiked and that it would take us back to our car.   (Jaws music please).  At least that is how Glenn heard it told, but maybe those Fred Meyer shoppers weren't honest????  Anyway, that other trail we took consisted of a series of switchbacks that go uphill to the very top of Roxy Ann, which was not on our agenda today.  So after hiking two-thirds of the way up and then realizing where this trail was going, we jumped onto the Manzanita trail to get back down.  That trail by 10:30 am was in full sun and it was a long..... hot....... descent and our hike turned into a 7 mile "way too hot and long" hike in which we drank all of our water.  Good thing there was a Starbucks on the way home!!

But don't let our misadventure scare you away.  This new trail (the first one) is a very nice 4.3 mile trail and we really enjoyed hiking it.  The soil is loose in many sections due to it being new and not yet packed down, so do watch your step.  It is open to hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding ---- at least there was evidence that all 3 groups have used this trail.  Matter of fact, we hope to hike it again in the Autumn or Winter and will probably try to do the out and back hike for 8.6 miles.

There are plans for even more trails and facilities to be built at Prescott Park, so for those of you in the Southern Oregon area, keep your eyes and ears open for any updates.  In the meantime, we'll keep exploring any new nameless trails we find and keep you updated through our blog.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

Friday, August 12, 2016

Upper Rogue Trail: Natural Bridge

July 31, 2016

As July was coming to an end, we decided to squeeze in one more hike before the month of August arrived with it's typical hot temperatures and wildfire smoke.  So off to the Union Creek area we drove about the time the Bybee fire near Crater Lake started. Yup, August is a comin'.

TIme for another hike
The Upper Rogue trail spans 41 miles from Prospect to the Mt Mazama rest stop and for the most part follows the Rogue River through calm and fast waters.  We have hiked serveral portions, but today we wanted to hike the section from the Natural Bridge parking lot towards the Big Bend TH.  It would be a oneway trip of 7 miles, 14 for an out and back.  We decided to try and hike halfway, take a break and then return.  That was our plan.....

One of our first views of the Rogue River....beautiful!

One of the calm water sections 

We began by hiking the Rogue Gorge trail from the parking lot which took us along the outskirts of the Natural Bridge campground.  Since we started early, we could smell the morning campfires and even the hint of bacon being cooked for breakfast.  But we continued on and did not crash anyone's campsite.

Bridge crossing just above the Natural Bridge campground
Eventually we crossed the Rogue River via a bridge and connected with the Upper Rogue trail to continue our hike.  The river was still very full and made for some beautiful small waterfalls and fast water, especially in some of the areas created by collaspsed lava tubes courtesy of Mt Mazama.

One of the collasped lava tube areas

Small waterfall below the lava tube area

Another beautiful cascade on the Rogue River

As we progressed along the trail, the trail itself became "less maintained" shall we say.  We encounted a couple of downed trees, then overgrowth along the trail, followed by a very overgrown meadow where tht trail had only been maintained by the local cow population.  It is a scary thing to step along a trail you cannot see and know that cows have been there is only a matter of time till you step on what those cows left behind.  Of course the overgrowth on the trail was especially tough on Katie, since she is only a few feet above the ground!  So when the trail disappeared in the overgrowth which was above our heads, we stopped and turned around.  Just take a look and see if  you can find the trail below!

Where oh where did the trail go???
On our return leg we did stop at a spot we had seen earlier where a rocky flat area meets the river.  We got to enjoy great views up and down the river and Katie even took a few quick dips.

Panoramic view of our break area next to the river
When we came to the bridge that we had crossed earlier, we continued on the Upper Rogue trail which took us by the Natural Bridge viewing area and eventually to the parking lot.  The Natural Bridge Falls just below the Natural Bridge area was very full of water and beautiful.

The Rogue River exiting from under the Natural Bridge

The Natural Bridge Falls
We didn't hike as far as we wanted to, but were still treated to great views of the beautiful Rogue River.  And we didn't even notice the smoke from the Bybee fire.  Hopefully that is an omen for hiking in August.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol