Jacksonville Forest Park II (Oregon) 23-Feb-2018

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon

Last week we did our first hike in Jacksonville, Oregon’s 1,100-acre Forest Park, northwest of town on the west side of Highway 238. We liked that hike so much we planned another, longer loop hike around the park’s perimeter. Before we could act on this plan, a series of long-awaited winter storms rolled through Southern Oregon, bringing snow as low as the valley floor.  Mount Ashland re-opened! And the park got its share of that snow – not enough to justify snowshoes – but enough to make our second walk in the park a completely different experience.  The fact that it was a clear, sunny, full bluebird day only enhanced the experience! 

Doing this loop requires following several different trails. We had the very helpful map we’d gotten from the parking area kiosk last week, and the trail signage is very good, so we were not confused most of the time. The bluebird day translated to a very cold (25ºF) start from the P-1 parking area, so cold that The LovedOne’s lips were too stiff to form the usual brave smile.

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
The kiosk at parking area P-1, with trail maps

But we pressed on anyway, starting out on the Rail Trail (alignment of the old Bullis logging railroad),

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Crossing the Rail Bridge on the Rail Trail

and then taking the Ponderosa Snag Trail up to the Siskiyou Trail and a welcome burst of sunshine.

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
On the Siskiyou Trail

The Siskiyou Trail took us deep into Cantrall Gulch, with an ocassional view of the snow-dappled hills across the canyon.

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Along the Siskiyou Trail

The trail would be only lightly covered with snow when it was exposed to the southwest, but well covered in 6-8 inches of fresh powder when it ducked into a gully.

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Along the Siskiyou Trail

From the Siskiyou Trail, we did a brief stint on the Halls of Manzanita Trail and then got on the Pipsissewa Trail, for a climb up past now frozen Granite Falls,

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Granite Falls on the Pipsissewa Trail

to a snowy plateau around 3,100 feet,

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Near the high point of the Pipsissewa Trail

and then on down to this trail’s end at parking area P-6. The interplay, along the Pipsissewa, of the light and snow with the bright green leaves and rusty red trunks of the madrones was magnificent. We could devote a whole hike to just appreciating and photographing madrones.

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Arriving at P-6, end of the Pipsissewa Trail

From P-6, we got back on the Halls of Manzanita Trail,

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
On the Halls of Manzanita Trail

followed it around to its junction with the Grotto Trail, where we got one of the few big views of the day.

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
The view east from the start of the Grotto Trail

We followed the Grotto Trail,

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Along the Grotto Trail

and tried to hike up to The Grotto, without any clear idea of what is was or where it was. But the snow, which made for some tricky walking on this trailless route, eventually forced us to abandon the effort (for now).

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Retreat from The Grotto

We followed the Grotto Trail, and a tiny piece of the Canyon Vista Trail, down to the Jackson Creek Bike Trail. We had originally planned to ascend the Jackson Creek Nature Trail but that was down in a dark, cold canyon and the sunny bike trail looked much more inviting – so we ascended that instead.

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Ascending the Jackson Creek Bike Trail

Where the nature and bike trails meet, we left the bike trail, crossed Jackson Creek,

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Crossing Jackson Creek

and climbed up the Jackson Ridge Trail,

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
On the Jackson Ridge Trail

to its junction with the Atsahu Trail near the park’s high point (Point 3455), then descended the Atsahu,

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Down the Atsahu Trail

to upper Norling Road,

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Arriving at the upper Norling Road

which we then followed down,

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Along upper Norling Road

to parking area P-7, where we got on the Shade Creek Trail (which was, in the early 1900s, the wagon road to the Norling Mine),

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Crossing Shade Creek

followed it down to the Twin Peaks Trail, then followed that a short ways to the Owl Hoot Trail (an old mine ditch), then took the Owl out and around Twin Peaks,

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
On Owl Hoot Trail

with a view of incoming weather,

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Incoming clouds from the Owl Hoot Trail

past the Mountain Mahogany Meadow Viewpoint (for a brief glimpse of now very snowy Mount McLoughlin), on down to the Boulder Trail,

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
On the Boulder Trail

to the Ol’ Miners Trail (we were getting to be Ol’ Hikers by this point) and past another old mine (not as neat a one as the Norling Mine),

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
An old gold mine on the Ol’ Miners Trail

and along an icy old road back to P-1.

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Along the Ol’ Miners Trail

What a great (10.5 miles; 2,900 feet of elevation gain) hike! Sunshine, bluebird skies and weather, and fresh snow! Higher up, we were the first to track the wonderfully powdery snow. And how the snow and sun and trees worked together to create images was amazing! We have more hikes to do in Forest Park but today’s convergence of sun and snow will be hard to replicate.

Jacksonville Forest Park Oregon
Our loop around Jacksonville Forest Park

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2 thoughts on “Jacksonville Forest Park II (Oregon) 23-Feb-2018

  1. Wow, what a difference a little snow makes. We almost hiked this route a few weeks ago, but headed south instead of over to the Grotto trail and beyond. Planning on hiking this long route clockwise in March to get a 10+ mile hike in. By the way, Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club are hiking the ART on March 10 – we plan on joining them. They are doing it one way, but we are hiking both ways to get a longer hike in.

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    1. The snow made for a particularly pretty hike. This long route is 10 miles plus almost 3,000 feet of gain, so it’s a good workout. Hope the weather on March 10th cooperates so you can enjoy the views from the ART – really nice. I did an out-and-back and found the climb back up to be easier than I’d expected – mainly because the trail is well-graded for a steady pace.

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