When you think of Ashland, the first thing that comes to mind is probably theater. While best known for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland has much more to offer — especially for those who love to explore the great outdoors.
The Siskiyou National Forest and the southern Cascade Range are brimming with scenic views and fantastic trails for bikers, hikers, runners, photographers and anyone who wants to soak in the sights and sounds of the forest. The greater Ashland area features 47 miles of trails — and picking one can be difficult. Here are three must-visit trails for forest adventures in Ashland:
Grouse Gap Hike & Pacific Crest Trail
Whether it’s winter or spring, the scenic Grouse Gap Hike is a wonderful trail to take. During cold months, it’s a great place for snowshoe or backcountry skiing excursions. And once the sun comes out to shine, slip on some hiking boots and get ready to see open meadows filled with wildflowers. Whatever the season, you’ll marvel at the vast beauty of Mt. Ashland and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
On the Grouse Gap trail, you’ll see a number of fire scars that tell the long history of Southern Oregon and wildfires. The Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project keeps the trails safe by reducing the risk of large-scale wildfires and restoring healthy forest ecosystems.
If you’re looking for a challenge, the Grouse Gap Trail connects to the more difficult Summit Trail, Grouse Creek Trail and Connector Section, as well as the Pacific Crest Trail, a world-famous hike spanning more than 2,600 miles from Mexico to Canada. In Ashland, the notorious trail can be accessed via the Grouse Gap Hike for a 3.5-mile day-trip hike. It offers a small, but invigorating taste of the PCT.
Take in the cool mountain air at 6,200-foot elevation as you pass by granite rocks, a mixed conifer forest, meadows and the occasional deer. Maybe you’ll write a story about it.
Best of all, this trip brings you close to the summit of Mt. Ashland, giving you some of the best views of Oregon.
Located in the heart of Ashland, Lithia Park is a 90-acre wooded jewel perfect for peaceful strolls. Ashland Creek runs through the park, creating a variety of ponds and waterfalls — perfect for the Instagram-inclined hiker — and trails lead back to downtown Ashland.
It’s easy to relax in Lithia Park with a Japanese garden, two duck ponds, a rose garden and groves of sycamore trees. But you can also play in the park at one of its tennis courts, a sand-pit volleyball court, picnic areas and playgrounds.
During the summer months, the Granite Street Reservoir at the southernmost area of the park is the perfect place to take a dip and cool off.
Grizzly Peak Trail
This summer and fall trip is a family-friendly moderate hike. In late spring, the meadows are overflowing with a variety of beautiful wildflowers like Siskiyou onion and baker’s violet.
The Grizzly Peak Trail features two viewpoints. At the Burn Viewpoint, you can see what remains from the 2002 East Antelope Fire. At the Ashland Viewpoint, you’ll get a spectacular view of the city, Mt. Ashland, Mt. Shasta and Pilot Rock.
Ashland is a major destination for forest recreation in Oregon. Discover how the Ashland community has come together to maintain the forests and prepare for wildfires by visiting www.exploreoregonforests.org
This is part of a four-part series brought in partnership the Oregon Department of Forestry, which promotes the stewardship of Oregon’s stunning, diverse forests. Discover how working forests benefit Oregonians from flood control and timber management, to nature conservation and community engagement by visiting ExploreOregonForests.org.