Deming~Wolf Gap Loop (Southwest Oregon) 17-Dec-2021

The full conditions we “enjoyed” recently on Roxy Ann brought enough snow – at least to the high country above 6,000 feet (1,829 m) – for our local ski area to open tomorrow. 😊 More storms are expected next week, hopefully bringing more rain πŸ™‚ and more snow 😁 to our still parched region. So we wanted to do a longer hike before being confined to quarters by these oncoming Winter storms. Something long but not too hard, with little or no snow, no cross-country, and no anxiety (Lord knows there’s enough of that going around these days) about route finding. The nearby Sterling Mine Ditch Trail came immediately to mind. πŸ˜ƒ

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Grub Gulch Loop (Southern Oregon) 09-Nov-2020

The Sterling Mine Ditch Trail is one of the premier hikes in Southwestern Oregon. The trail follows the alignment of a ditch dug by hand in 1877 to divert water from the upper reaches of the Little Applegate River to the Sterling Creek Mine. As built, and allowing for its ins-and-outs through canyons, it’s pretty linear from the Little Applegate Trail on one end to the Grub Gulch Trailhead on the other. This makes forming loops a bit of a challenge. There are short ones at its east end between the Little Applegate, Tunnel Ridge, and Bear Gulch Trailheads. And we’ve done one from the Deming Gulch Trailhead by adding a road walk up to the Wolf Gap Trailhead. And I did one to Grub Gulch from Deming Gulch with a return on the Jackash Trail, Sterling Creek Road, and the dirt road to the trailhead. But was there a way to do a loop from Deming to Grub without much road walking?

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Circling the Ditch (Southwestern Oregon) 29-May-2020

The Sterling Mine Ditch Trail is undoubtedly one of the best known trails in Southwestern Oregon. For some 21 miles, it follows the route of an old ditch dug (in the 1870s) to supply water from the Little Applegate River to a hydraulic mine in Sterling Gulch. Because of its linearity, doing a loop hike involving a long stretch of it requires some improvisation. So back in 2015, we figured how to do such a loop from the Deming Trailhead by combining a little road walking with the then newly opened connector trail from Wolf Gap. Although today was forecast as a hot one (some 20Β°F (12Β°C) above whatever passes for normal these days), the weather in the days ahead was forecast to involve exciting bursts of water and electricity, so we ventured forth today to repeat this loop.

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Sunshine on the Ditch (Oregon) 17-Mar-2019

We’re enjoying a (likely temporary) spate of near perfect hiking weather: sunshine 😎 , blue skies, cool breezes, and still dormant ticks. This being Oregon in the Spring, such perfection won’t last long (the ticks, however, will likely go on forever). I was keen to use this interlude of hiking nirvana to continue working the kinks out of my back, while fooling with the straps on my new daypack. I needed a 10-mile or less hike with some gain and no snow. Thus the year-round, low-altitude, south-facing (mostly), and nearby Sterling Mine Ditch Trail came to mind. The trail doesn’t form a natural loop but I could make one using my mountain bike (thank you REI dividend πŸ™‚ ). It hadn’t gotten out of the garage at all this winter, was feeling a little deflated (at least its tires were), and needed to get back on the road. The LovedOne opted out of this adventure, electing to stay inside o_O and work on a fabric project of some complexity.

So, going it alone, πŸ˜₯ I drove up the Deming-Armstrong Road, hid the bike at the Wolf Gap Trailhead, then drove back down and parked at the Deming Gulch Trailhead. One of these days I’m going to ride this trail (it’s an easy and popular mountain biking route) but today I was focused on walking it. I ambled along the 8.3 miles between Deming Gulch and the junction with the Wolf Gap Trail (closed to bikes), enjoying the sun, the ditch, and the occasional views. Climbing back up to Wolf Gap added 1.5 miles and 950 feet of gain to the hike but also opened up some bigger views. After retrieving the bike, I coasted back down to where I’d parked. The last time we did this hike was four years ago, so this return was wonderful, my back held off complaining until the very end, and no ticks were sighted or squished (yet). In another month there will be wildflowers along this trail. πŸ˜€

Near Deming Gulch, a fallen tree blocks the trail and spans the ditch
Morning along the ditch
A corridor of ferns thanks to this year’s many rains
A charred madrone
A canopy to leafless trees
From the viewpoint: (1) Grayback Mountain, (2) Big Sugarloaf Peak, (3) Burton Butte, (4) Mount Baldy, (5) Ben Johnson Mountain
Along the ditch
The trail leaves the forest and crosses sunny slopes bearing oaks and madrones
View from the trail: (1) Burton Butte, (2) Tallowbox Mountain, (3) Mount Baldy, (4) Ben Johnson Mountain. The arrow points to the ditch trail.
Madrones along the trail
Sunshine! 😎
Madrones line the ditch
Lightly charred Ponderosa bark
Near the Wolf Gap junction, the trail enters a forest of madrones and Ponderosa pines
Climbing the Wolf Gap Trail through still dormant meadows
Oaks along the Wolf Gap Trail
The hike (solid red line) and the bike (dotted black line)
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To An End of the Jack-Ash! 04-Sep-2018

Jack-Ash Trail Jacksonville Ashland Oregon

In October 2017, we did our first hike on part of the recently completed Phase 1 of the Jack-Ash (Jacksonville – Ashland) Trail. This then new (yeah!) trail connects both ends of the well known Sterling Mine Ditch Trail, allowing for various hiking loops and other footy options. Because of the way we arranged that hike, we left the Jack-Ash at its junction with the Grub Gulch Access Trail and thus didn’t go all the way out to Griffin Lane.  I was thinking of correcting this oversight with a hike & bike between there and the Deming Gulch Trailhead when I realized that I didn’t know exactly where the Jack-Ash connected with Griffin Lane. Owing to the amount of private property in the area, it was critical to know this location exactly, as unintentionally hiding the bike in someone’s backyard would be problematic (at best). So nothing for it then but to hike north from Deming Gulch, up Grub Gulch, and down to the end of the Jack-Ash (The LovedOne opted to avoid yet another instance of my hiking OCD by going to the library).

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Jack-Ash Trail Loop (Ashland, Oregon) 08-Oct-2017

Jack-Ash Trail Jacksonville Ashland Oregon

In July of this year, thanks to the efforts of the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association (SUTA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Phase 1 of the Jack-Ash (Jacksonville – Ashland) Trail was completed between Griffin Lane and Little Applegate Road, via Anderson Butte Road.  This new (yeah!) trail connects with the well known Sterling Mine Ditch Trail, a trail which, since 2013, we have been able to hike all parts of, including the segment between the Deming Gulch and Grub Gulch Trailheads.  In addition, I used sections of the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail to craft a loop over Anderson Butte to and from the Wolf Gap Trailhead.  Based on these previous wanderings, and with the Jack-Ash now available, further map-gazing suggested a loop involving it, Anderson Butte, and the mine ditch trail.  And so, on a Fall day with near perfect weather for hiking, we set out to explore this loop (and the new trail).

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Sterling Mine Ditch to Grub Gulch 16-Jun-2017

Sterling Mine Ditch Trail Oregon

The Sterling Mine Ditch Trail – despite its somewhat industrial name – is one of the most popular and most publicized trails in Southern Oregon. It’s open year-round, is accessible to hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians, and features wildflowers in the Spring and colorful foliage in the Fall. The original 26 mile long “ditch” was constructed by hand in 1877 to convey water from the Little Applegate River to a huge hydraulic mine in the upper reaches of the Sterling Creek drainage. The mine and the town it spawned (Sterlingville) are now gone but the ditch remains. Thanks to the efforts of the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association (SUTA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), 18 miles of the ditch have been reclaimed as a valuable recreational resource.  Since 2013, we have been able to hike (more than once) all parts of the trail with one exception: the segment between the Deming Gulch and Grub Gulch Trailheads.  Yesterday, I (the LovedOne being too consumed by a backlog of fiber and gardening projects to join me) set out to remedy this omission.

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Sterling Mine Ditch Loop (Southern Oregon) 12-Apr-2015

Sterling Mine Ditch Trail Southern Oregon

The Sterling Mine Ditch Trail – despite its somewhat off-putting name – is one of the most popular and most publicized trails in Southern Oregon. It’s open year-round, is accessible to hikers, mountain bikers, and horses, and features flowers in the Spring and colors in the Fall. The original 26 mile “ditch” was constructed by hand in 1877 to convey the Little Applegate River to a huge hydraulic mine in the upper reaches of the Sterling Creek drainage; the ditch was in use until the 1930s. The mine and the town it spawned (Sterlingville) are now gone but the ditch remains. Thanks to the efforts of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association (SUTA), it has now been reclaimed as a valuable recreational resource. A trail map and directions to the various trailheads are now available.

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