Hiking the new ART East (Jacksonville, Oregon) 14-Nov-2017

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

Whatever else you might say about 2017, it was a great year for new trails in Southern Oregon!  Several hiking, biking, and equestrain trails came online in Prescott Park, Phase I of the Jack-Ash Trail was opened by the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association, and then the Applegate Trails Association weighed in with the East Applegate Ridge Trail, another addition to the still developing 50-mile long Applegate Ridge Trail (ART) system.  It’s hard to keep up with all this trail activity and we were out fiddling with Point 5648 when Glenn & Carol and Richard ventured out along the new east ART trail.  I hesitate to say that they “gushed” about their hike (even though it did rain some) but they were clearly captured by its smooth tread, vast views, open meadows, and transits of oak, madrone, and pine forests. We were consumed with envy.  When today looked to be (and was) an amazingly bluebird perfect break in the atmospheric river of wet that has been coming our way lately, I went for it. The LovedOne stayed behind to make a dent in her growing number of fiber art projects, thus missing a great hike.  So sad…

The East Applegate Ridge Trail runs between Highway 238 (lower trailhead) and Sterling Creek Road (upper trailhead). At present, however, trailhead parking is available only at its upper end; completion of the lower trailhead is planned for 2018. BLM Road 38-2-19.1 (which some douche bags have already used as a trash dump) connects Sterling Creek Road to the huge gravel parking lot at the upper trailhead where there is a sign but no amenities.  The trail, and the land that it’s on, are administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

The East Applegate Ridge Trail’s upper trailhead

The trail starts out through some forest but very soon breaks into the open and begins contouring across open, grassy slopes.

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

Looking west over the cloud-filled Upper Applegate Valley

This was one of those days when the valleys were clogged with early morning fog but above 3,000 feet or so, all was blue sky. Clouds like this always remind me of camping at Camp Muir prior to climbing Mount Rainier and looking out from 10,000 feet over a sea of clouds stretching for miles and miles.

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

The cloud-filled Upper Applegate Valley with the snowy Siskiyou Crest beyond

After a long stretch in the open, the trail turns a corner on to the wetter side of a ridge and passes into a pine forest,

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

Into the pines

hoary with moss and lichens of varying colors and shapes.

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

A tiny ecosystem of moss and lichens

The trail then turns again, leaves the pines, passes through a stand of oaks and madrones,

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

Another change in the forest – to oaks and madrones

crosses over the head of Buckhorn Gulch, then comes out again into open meadows of tall grasses that were glowing golden in the soft Fall light.

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

A sculptured tree and golden grasses

The big views also return,

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

Snowy Grayback Mountain and Big Sugarloaf Peak to the right of pointy Negro Ben Mountain

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

The Upper Applegate Valley

and then the trail turns north, crosses the ridge and a faint old mining road (at 2.5 miles from the upper trailhead), then starts descending.

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

Crossing the ridge at the trail’s highest point

This crossing is the highest point on the trail – from here I would drop, gently but steadily, some 1,200 feet down to the lower trailhead. I knew this was coming, but I can’t say that the thought of having to regain this altitude sat very well. But I pushed on, now back into forest,

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

Into the forest below the trail’s highest point

then across old BLM Road 38-3-13.1 (not shown on the last (1985) USGS topo map for this area but clearly visible on Google Earth), then, in 0.2 miles, across another, fainter old road (BLM  38-3-13.2), and then out into the open on south-facing (likely scorching hot in summer!) slopes.

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

Descending south-facing slopes towards the lower trailhead

Less than a mile further on, the trail follows another short piece of old road (BLM Road 38-2-18.0), then switchbacks down through a madrone forest, connects with another old road segment (BLM Road 38-3-14.1), and finally arrives at the lower trailhead – just a green gate at present – on Highway 238.

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

The lower trailhead on Highway 238

The trail had been remarkably quiet and peaceful up to this point, which made the car and truck noise coming from the highway all the more jarring. Seeking a return to solice, I decided to climb up from the highway a bit before taking a snack break. So, back up the old road,

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

The old road just above the lower trailhead

up those open south-facing slopes,

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

The trail climbs up and around the hill way in the distance

and back into the forest for that snack break.

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

A patch of forest about half way back up

Continuing on I passed a couple of birdwatchers (judging from the size of the binoculars they were carrying) and a mountain biker, then regained the high point, now with a view south toward Wagner Butte and Mount Ashland.

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

Snowy Wagner Butte (L) and Mount Ashland (R) from the high point on the trail

There’s a strtegically placed bench along in here which I’ll admit to taking advantage of it for another break. My concerns about the 1,200-foot climb back up proved to be overblown – the trail is so well-graded that keeping a steady upward pace was not at all painful. From the bench, it was more golden grasses,

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

Contouring along past the high point

a last glimpse of Wagner and Ashland,

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

Snowy Wagner Butte (L) and Mount Ashland (R)

a last leaf in quasi-Christmas colors,

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

A leaf in seasonal colors before its fall

and then I was back at the upper trailhead. A total of 10.6 miles with 2,000 feet of elevation gain (that 1,200 feet plus some little ups here and there) on a well-constructed, easy-to-hike-on trail! Truly wonderful!  Well done ATA! But to give credit where credit is due, let me quote part of the sign at the trailhead:

“…ATA has received grants from BLM Title II, the Schwemm Family Foundation, REI, and Travel Oregon and contributions from many citizens of the Applegate and Rogue Valleys. This financial support is greatly appreciated. There were many helping hands volunteering in the construction of the trail as well. Without them, this beautiful trail would not exist!”

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

My track along the East Applegate Ridge Trail


2 thoughts on “Hiking the new ART East (Jacksonville, Oregon) 14-Nov-2017

  1. Glenn & Carol Pitcairn

    Glad you enjoyed the hike much like we did! It is nice to have new trails in the area and more on the way. Really enjoyed the views of the clouds handing over the valley. We have yet to try the Jack-Ash trail, but maybe soon.


    1. VanMarmot Post author

      You may be able to do the Jack-Ash this winter if we get a break in the weather. If you can arrange a car shuttle, a hike down from the Anderson Butte end would be the way to go – lots of views and no worries about uphill!


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