Daley Creek Snowshoe (Ashland, Oregon) 04-Feb-2021

The weather had alternated between wet and dry for a few days, with an inversion fog in the valley. Then a really big storm blew through yesterday, leaving in its wake a nice layer of fresh powder snow in the high country. We’d been confined to town by volunteering, work, and the weather. But when today dawned bright and clear and our schedules were (suspiciously) empty, we took the opportunity to head up to the Deadwood Junction Sno-Park for a snowshoe hike near Daley Creek. This particular route had been on our to do list for a few years, ever since we saw it on the Ashland Hiking Group’s website.

This Sno-Park is just a short plowed stretch of Forest Road (FR) 37 ending in a high berm. We surmounted the berm to find an expanse of new, fresh powder over a firm base. We would be first tracks along our entire route! 🙂

Deadwood Junction Sno-Park
The LovedOne confronts the berm

We went north on FR 37 for 0.8 mile (1.3 km), then turned east (right) on to FR 3700-020, which is a service road paralleling the Daley Creek Canal. This canal is part of the Talent Irrigation District and funnels the flow (when there is any) of Daley Creek into the South Fork Canal, which empties into Howard Prairie Lake. Thanks to our drought, neither the canals nor the lake saw much action last year. 😦

Along FR 37
Daley Creek Canal
Following alongside the canal
Still life in snow
A beautiful winter wonderland
Continuing along

At 1.8 miles (2.9 km) from the Sno-Park, we came to a structure with two canal gates that could be used to either keep the captured flow of Daley Creek in the canal or divert it into Beaver Dam Creek.

Crossing Beaver Dam Creek
Continuing along the canal

At 2.8 miles (4.5 km) in, we left the canal and went briefly cross-country to intersect an old road that would connect us with FR 3700-030 for our return to the Sno-Park.

A brief bit of cross-country
A dead tree covered with an unusual growth
Now on FR 030

FR 030 took us around the north side of Point 4707, past an intermittent drainage, and deposited us at the Daley Creek Campground. From there, we followed FR 37 back to the Sno-Park. This took us past Beaver Dam Creek, which had proved to be a short, but pleasant, hike last year when we were focusing on staying local.

Across the drainage
Approaching the campground
This sign is only true if two people constitute a “congestion”
Beaver Dam Creek

I hadn’t looked closely enough at the topo map to realize that it was uphill from Daley Creek Campground to where we’d turn-off FR 37 to follow the canal. And while the snow had been wonderfully fluffy in the cold morning, conditions had now warmed enough to make it wonderfully sticky. So we clumped on uphill, dragging our snow-encrusted snowshoes beneath us, and getting even more aerobic exercise than planned. The LovedOne was careful to note how much she enjoyed this extra bit of suffering exercise.

Almost back to the Sno-Park

Extra exercise not withstanding, this was a gentle 5.7 mile (9.2 km) lollipop loop through good snow under excellent skies. 🙂 Even though the climb up from the campground seemed arduous, it only amounted to 130 ft (40 m) of gain – which we probably wouldn’t have noticed except for the sticky snow. We saw Nordic ski tracks at the canal when we passed it on the way out and there was one person unloading her skis at the Sno-Park, otherwise we had the area to ourselves for the day. Social distancing at its best! 😀

Our lollipop loop (red track) at Daley Creek (“H” is the gate structure on the canal)

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