Prescott Park sits on the eastern edge of Medford, Oregon, covering the sloping terrain surrounding Roxy Ann Peak (3,573 feet), the park’s high point, and is managed by the City of Medford. With a high point of 3,573 feet and a low point 1,960 feet the park has over 1,600 feet of vertical terrain to access. This terrain is spread over 1,740 acres of oak savannah and pine forests. A variety of soil types are present as well as a number of rocky outcrops and jumbles. The existing trails and roads, along with its vertical terrain and its proximity to Medford, make this a hugely popular year-round destination for hiking, biking, running, and walking.
It’s our local spot (particularly Fall through Spring, as it’s a little too hot in Summer) for getting some exercise when we don’t feel like driving to a higher trailhead (or can’t because of snow). When it’s foggy in Medford, it is usually clear and beautiful on Roxy Ann Peak – these are some of the best days to hike on the peak. We go there frequently (see our cumulative track map below) but have not mentioned it before on this site (but have on the OregonHikers site). But back in June, we noticed what looked liked some new trail construction, a reality later confirmed by our local paper, the Mail Tribune. Apparently the City had commissioned the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) to prepare a conceptual trail plan (details) as a review of the Master Plan adopted in 2008. Fast forward 8 years, and one of their proposed trails was now being built around the west, north, and east sides of Roxy Ann. Wonders! We hiked a short section of this new trail in June before it was officially open (there’s something very attractive about a “trail closed” sign), then we got caught up in summer activities elsewhere, and put this new trail on our back burner. Our interest was rekindled when we saw Glenn and Carol’s report on their August 2016 hike of it and so decided to check it out for ourselves (in much cooler Fall weather).
While you can walk, or hike, or bike here 24 hours a day if you want because it is a city park, car access is restricted at night. The lower gate on Roxy Ann Road closes at 5:00PM in the winter and 9:00PM in the summer. The primary trailhead for the park is at the upper gate, which only quarry trucks and official vehicles can drive past when it’s open. There are some wide spots to park at near the gate but on busy days cars are parked all along the road below the gate.
The north-bound new trail starts just to the left of the upper gate and contours out around the west side of Roxy Ann,
and then heads north for views of Point 2554 and the steam rising from the lumber mills in White City.
A fire burned across the northwest side of the peak at some point in the past, which opened the views and undergrowth, while leaving some tortured snags.
The trail contours for about a mile, then descends on some long switchbacks almost to the saddle between Roxy Ann and Point 2554, and then heads northeast across the northwest side of Roxy Ann. From here you can look out and see two other popular hiking and wildflower areas – the Upper and Lower Table Rocks – in the Rogue River Valley.
Along here, the trail passes through some mixed stands of madrones and Ponderosa pines,
before, at three miles from the upper gate, cresting Roxy Ann’s broad north ridge.
From here we could see Roxy Ann herself to the south,
but the big view from here – and along the east side of Roxy Ann – is of Mount McLoughlin on the eastern horizon.
Along here, the trail does a gentle climbing traverse through an oak savannah,
with yet more views of Mount McLoughlin,
before, at 4.3 miles from the upper gate, arriving at the service road (closed to all but official vehicles) on the east side of Roxy Ann. The roads that circle Roxy Ann are popular when rains turn the trails into an unrelenting slog through sticky, muddy, gumbo, which, when it gets gooey enough, forces the City to close the trails to prevent damage and erosion.
Across the road, the new trail begins climbing, on long switchbacks, up the east side of Roxy Ann,
past some truly ancient madrones,
through more madrones and pines,
before, at 5.3 miles from the upper gate, popping out on the service road for the comm facility that sits atop the peak.
From here, there are a number of trail options for getting off the peak. Since it was now pushing lunch time, we opted to go down the Manzanita Trail,
to the quarry road, and then down the Madrone Trail to the trailhead. All told, 6.9 miles with 1,300 feet of elevation gain, with 5.3 of those miles on the new trail. The new trail was designed for mountain bikes and, while we saw some tracks, the actual people we saw were runners and hikers. So hopefully the intent is to have the trail open to a variety of non-motorized users willing to share the trail.