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?Continue reading “Grub Gulch Loop (Southern Oregon) 09-Nov-2020”
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).
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).
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.