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 🙂 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. 😃

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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 20°F (12°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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Sterling Mine Ditch (Oregon) 26-Mar-2020

Our governor’s shelter-in-place order went into effect on Monday, with the now all too familiar (and painful) public closures, stay-at-home injunctions, and self-isolation directives. But, hiking, running, and biking are still encouraged PROVIDED you maintain a 6-foot (2 m) “alone cone” around yourself. Basically, just stay away from other people. And we’ve been good about that, as neither of us wants to give the Big V a shot at our decrepit immune systems. So, except for brief forays out for groceries, liquor, prescription refills, and the occasional take-out, we do not leave the house. Hiking is the one big exception. When doing so, we now have to think carefully about when and where to go – and be willing to abandon or revise a planned hike if trying to do it would compromise social distancing.

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Back on the Sunny Ditch (Oregon) 24-Mar-2019

Last week, I returned to the middle section of the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail for the first time in several years. Except for the absence 😦 of The LovedOne, it was a great hike in near perfect weather. It was this earlier hike between the Bear Gulch and Tunnel Ridge Trailheads that convinced us that Southern Oregon was a good place to be if you wanted to enjoy the outdoors year-round. Today was cast as a similarly near perfect hiking day between periods of rain and gloom. And The LovedOne was free (temporarily) of both the library and her numerous fabric projects. So I pitched a bike-assisted hike of the eastern end of the ditch – one we hadn’t done since 2013 – and she went for it. 🙂

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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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East Applegate Ridge Trail (Southern Oregon) 14-Nov-2017

East Applegate Ridge Trail Oregon

Whatever else you might say about 2017, it was a great year for new trails in Southern Oregon!  Several hiking, biking, and equestrian trails came online in Prescott Park, Phase I of the Jack-Ash Trail was opened by the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association, and then the Applegate Trails Association weighed in with the East Applegate Ridge Trail, another addition to the still developing 50-mile long Applegate Ridge Trail (ART) system.  It’s hard to keep up with all this trail activity and we were out fiddling with Point 5648 when Glenn & Carol and Richard ventured out along the new east ART trail.  I hesitate to say that they “gushed” about their hike (even though it did rain some) but they were clearly captured by its smooth tread, vast views, open meadows, and transits of oak, madrone, and pine forests. We were consumed with envy.  When today looked to be (and was) an amazingly bluebird perfect break in the atmospheric river of wet that has been coming our way lately, I went for it. The LovedOne stayed behind to make a dent in her growing number of fiber art projects, thus missing a great hike.  So sad…

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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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