Grouse Gap Nordic Trails
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Grouse Gap Trail (Easy to More Difficult) : This very scenic and popular trail follows snow-covered Forest Service road 20 along the crest of the Siskiyou Mountains to Grouse Gap Shelter (2.1 miles or 4.2 roundtrip). There are excellent opportunities for telemark skiing in several large open bowls. The first 0.3 miles from the trailhead to the picnic area and restrooms is often used for snow play and is sometimes congested – dogs are not allowed beyond this point. At the 1.0 mile point road 300 climbs to the right (north) to the top of Mt. Ashland (refer to Summit Trail description). The Grouse Gap trail continues ahead traversing the open bowl. Snowdrifts make it more difficult to recognize the roadbed through the open terrain, but ski tracks are normally present. After traversing the bowl the trail descends gingerly downhill to Grouse Gap at 1.9 miles. The Grouse Gap Shelter is 0.2 miles to the south. The trail ends at the shelter, and return trip is via the same route. Elevation loss from the trailhead to the shelter is 170 feet. The first 1.0 mile of the Grouse Gap trail is easy, beyond the junction with the Summit Trail it is more difficult.
Excellent backcountry skiing opportunities can be found along the crest to the west beyond Grouse Gap.
Summit Trail (Most Difficult) : From the one mile point on the Grouse Gap Trail, the Summit Trail follows Forest Service road 300 1.4 miles to the summit of Mt. Ashland at 7,533 ft. The route is unmarked but one can normally make out the Snowcat trail to the weather and TV station on the summit. The climb is a steep one (900 ft elevation gain). Winds near the top can be extreme when low pressure systems are advancing, but on a clear day the view is spectacular. Under icy conditions the trip down can be more than you bargained for.
Grouse Creek Trail (More Difficult) : This trail leaves the Grouse Gap Trail 0.1 miles beyond the trailhead, heading downhill to the left (south) on unmarked snow-covered road #40S15. Skiers with dogs may use this trail, skiing out to Grouse Creek and back. Round trip is 3.2 miles with a 500 ft elevation gain coming back.
Connector Section (More Difficult – 2.7 miles) : This new section of trail was constructed and marked by the Southern Oregon Nordic Club in 1999. The trail continues out the road (south) from Grouse Gap. The road descends gradually through forest and meadows and after about one mile, a plantation on private land is entered. The trail then comes to an intersection where it descends on the left (east) spur. The grade increases as the trail trail drops in this spur (good turn around point if conditions are icy). After about 3/8 mile, the trail turns left off the road and onto a ridge. It drops through trees for about a quarter mile at a fairly steep grade, then traverses a meadow. The last section through the trees is short and travels just above the road. When the road grade is intersected, continue left (north). After about a half mile, Road 40S15 is intersected. Turn left (north) again and after about 100 meters, Grouse Creek is crossed.
Nordic skiing on the south side of Mt. Ashland is on unmarked snow-covered roads. Most of the terrain is high, open and very scenic; however, exposure to weather can be severe, and visibility can deteriorate rapidly. Be aware of changes in the weather and be prepared to backtrack at the earliest sign of deteriorating conditions. The potential for avalanche exists on the N and NE aspect slopes, particularly after storms and winds in excess of 15 mph.
For the most up to date snow conditions the Mt. Ashland Snow-Phone # is 541-482-2754. Search and rescue is a county responsibility; in an emergency, notify: JACKSON COUNTY SHERIFF (911).
The area beyond the trailhead is closed to motorized travel from Nov. 15th to April 30th. Over-the-snow vehicles are authorized by permit to access the weather, radio, and TV stations via the south side of Mt. Ashland. There are a few private landowners who have permission from the Forest Service to access their property using over-the-snow vehicles. These uses are limited and should not affect your enjoyment of the area.
Please remember that dogs are not allowed beyond the restrooms and picnic area located 0.3 miles beyond the trailhead.
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