Along Elk Creek (Southwest Oregon) 10-Apr-2020

We found out after this hike that this recreation site has been closed because of the Big V. There was no signage at the Homesteaders Trailhead to indicate this. We saw no one on the hike itself but there were several cars parked at both trailheads when we returned. So we weren’t alone in not getting the message in time. Still, our mistake. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Elk Creek is a tributary of the Rogue River and one that was planned to be turned into a reservoir to accompany the one that is nearby Lost Creek Lake. Fierce opposition prevented the dam from being finished (it was eventually breached to allow fish passage) and the land that was supposed to be at the bottom of a reservoir became a recreation area. The old road along Elk Creek now serves as a hiking, biking, and equestrian pathway.

We parked at the upper (Homesteaders) trailhead under absurdly blue and sunny skies ๐Ÿ˜Ž and wandered down the old road and along the creek for about 2.5 miles before having a snack and turning back. We passed by the 7-Mile swimming holes and traversed some of the old farm land that is now meadows. We saw no people during the three hours we spent wandering around but did see plenty of wildlife – including flocks of woodpeckers, robins, and butterflies. But it’s still early yet for big wildflower displays. On the way back, The LovedOne became particularly adept at nearly stepping on “sticks” that wiggled and had forked tongues. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Despite seeing no one, we returned to the trailhead to find a half dozen cars there. With all the sunshine pouring down and the various critters running around, we had a nice time of it.

The old road is now a trail
Woodpeckers gamboling in the dead trees along the road
A hairy fly enjoys a very fragrant Oregon Grape blossom
Elk Creek near 7-Mile swimming hole
The big meadow at 7-Mile
These tiny flowers were among the few currently in bloom
Wandering through some of the old farm lands
Alco Creek
Butterflies flocking to draw minerals from a piece of poop
A tiny mushroom
Heading back under blue skies…
And through an avenue of trees
I am not a stick!
Nor am I!
The LovedOne dons her “anti-stick” goggles

On the drive home, we passed the entrance to the lower trailhead and remarked on why there were a bunch of cars parked along the road. As noted above, it was because the site is now officially closed and the gate to the Yellowrock Trailhead is locked. So either these folks didn’t get the closure message (like us) or are intentionally ignoring it (not us). Either way, this is yet another developed recreation area that is off our list for the duration. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

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8 comments

  1. We’ve seen snakes (including rattlesnakes) on trails before but this is one of the few times we’ve seen two different ones in less than 5 minutes. I guess if goats can now wander freely around a town in Wales, we should expect a few snakes to enjoy sunning themselves on a formerly popular trail. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Most parks around here closed too though state parks reopened as of yesterday. One of the warnings issued by local wilderness folks is “beware of snakes.” With no feet on the trails, snakes are moving about freely.

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  3. You can go to the Ashland Woodlands and Trails Association website and select the trails tab. Some are listed, but there is a device to the left on the page in which you can select hiking/running, distance, trailhead and trail and it will give you options to match your choices. Choose hiking, 5-10 miles, Fairy Ponds TH, Wonder for starting and the last option is the next one we are looking atโ€ฆโ€ฆenjoy

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  4. Since I didn’t see that the woodpeckers had cards, poker chips or roulette wheels, I suspect they were gamboling instead. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Nice snake pictures!

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  5. Yup, knew Elk Creek was closed – we wanted to do that hike last week. Well, ignorance is bliss. Looked like a beautiful day. Will be posting the Wonder Trail in a day or two as we hiked it today. This was the new lower section of the Wonder Trail which is almost 3 miles from the Fairy Ponds in Ashland. You can then return via FR2060 like we did – 5.3 mile – or continue on the Upper Wonder Trail then Fell On My Knee Trail and hike roads back to parking area for a 10+ mile hike. Really enjoyed the new lower Wonder Trail and it is one way which made it nice too.

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