A Good, Cold Walk… (Southwest Oregon) 23-Feb-2022

A forecast “big” storm actually rolled through our area over the past few days. It brought a lot more cold than water (we’re still 27% below historical normal precipitation πŸ˜₯) but was welcome nonetheless. Then it was gone and the sun popped back out. While the valley floor got only a light (very light) dusting of snow, 8 inches (20 cm) had fallen up on Mount Ashland. So we surmised that there might be some snow on the trails in Forest Park. Inquiring minds wanted to know…

It was about 20 ℉ (-6.6 ℃) when we left the house and not a lot warmer (but sunny! 😎) when we reached Forest Park’s Parking Area P1A. Our arrival coincided with that of a nature walk for toddlers, so we were immediately surrounded by wandering munchkins swaddled in well padded snow suits. After artfully dodging these mobile puffies, we crossed Jacksonville’s historic dam and the newish Tony Hess suspension bridge, and went up the Rail Trail.

A cold start
Across the suspension bridge
And up the Rail Trail

The Rail Trail and a short connector got us to the Siskiyou Trail, which we followed up-canyon to the Halls of Manzanita Trail and then followed that to a crossing of Cantrall Creek high in its drainage.

On the Siskiyou Trail
On the Halls of Manzanita Trail
Sunlight

We left the Halls of Manzanita Trail for the Grotto Trail and followed that over to a crossing of Jackson Creek high in its drainage.

View of prescribed burns (arrow) in the Ashland watershed from the start of the Grotto Trail
On the Grotto Trail
A fern in winter
Ice at Jackson Creek

After crossing Jackson Creek, we followed the Jackson Ridge Trail to the top of the ridge. This trail is on a shady, east-facing slope and here we encountered the deepest snow of the day. Only 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) but better than zero. πŸ™‚

Up the Jackson Ridge Trail
Snow on a vine

Once on the ridge, we scrapped Plan A (which had been to circle back via the Atsahu Trail) in favor of an impromptu ascent of the park’s highest point – Point 3455 – and views of Mount McLoughlin to the east. From the high point, we followed an old road south to an even older old road (which we’d scouted on a previous trip to the Forest) which took us – via a piece of the Atsahu Trail – to the start of the Shade Creek Trail.

Toward Point 3455
The much abused old road near the high point
Mount McLoughlin from the old road
Mount McLoughlin pictured in ice
On the old road to the even older old road
Descending the older old road

The Shade Creek Trail was indeed shady and hence cold. We followed it down along a trickling Norling Creek to the Canyon Falls Trail, and then on down past Canyon Falls to the Norling Trail. We took the snow-free and slightly warmer Norling Trail back to P1A.

Descending the Shade Creek Trail
Fern in snow
Reflections on Norling Creek
Back along the Norling Trail

This hike featured some sunny spots and more than a few shady, cold stretches. We went in and out of different kinds of forest and had views toward Ashland and of Mount McLoughlin. This loop came to 8.1 miles (12.9 km) with a cumulative 1,400 feet (427 m) of gain. It features a number of ups and downs so the workout it provides seems stiffer than just doing one continuous 1,400-foot climb. All in all, a good walk in the woods on a cold day. πŸ˜ƒ And more rain is expected in a few days! 😁

Today’s cold, snowy loop around the Forest
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2 thoughts on “A Good, Cold Walk… (Southwest Oregon) 23-Feb-2022

  1. I’m heading over there today hoping there’s still some snow. Glad you had a nice hike with beautiful photos!

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