Jacksonville Forest Park 16-Feb-2018

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VanMarmot
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Jacksonville Forest Park 16-Feb-2018

Post by VanMarmot » February 19th, 2018, 6:36 am

The City of Jacksonville, Oregon styles itself The Hiking Capital of Southern Oregon. To bolster this claim, the City maintains the Woodlands Trails, a web of pleasant hiking, biking, and equestrian trails on 320 acres on the west edge of town, southeast of Highway 238. It also maintains an extensive network of more rugged hiking and biking trails in 1,100-acre Forest Park, northwest of town on the west side of Highway 238. Although we have been avid users of the Woodlands Trails since we moved here, the trails in Forest Park had thus far escaped the gentle caress of our boots.  Today we addressed this oversight by tromping out a loop hike on trails around Norling Gulch. The few online maps we could find for these trails were often incomplete or inaccurate or both. The most complete and accurate (current) map proved to be the one obtainable at the park's parking lot kiosks (and, presumably, from the City). We had managed to find enough online mappage to get us to parking lot P-5 and the start of the Twin Peaks Trail. It was 29ºF when we got out of the truck, so yet another brave smile was needed before we started up the trail.

Image A cold, but brave, smile at the start of the Twin Peaks Trail

Trails in Southern Oregon often combine (to save on trail-building costs) re-purposed old logging or mining roads linked with newly constructed trails - think the Lone Pilot Trail in the Soda Mountains Wilderness - and Forest Park is no exception. Thus the Twin Peaks Trail is an old road,

Image Climbing the Twin Peaks Trail

that took us up,

Image Climbing toward sunshine the Twin Peaks Trail

to the Cascade Crest Shelter,

Image The Cascade Crest Shelter and viewpoint on the Twin Peaks Trail

where we could look out over the Upper Bear Creek Valley. The day started out cold but clear and sunny and we hoped that sunshine would stick with us all day (it did, but a milky overcast was moving in as we finished the loop).

Image The Upper Bear Creek Valley and Tombstone Mountain from the Cascade Crest Shelter

We continued on the Twin Peaks Trail to Twin Peaks Saddle,

Image Twin Peaks Saddle

checked out Lower Twin Peak (Point 2939), then, having missed the unsigned start of the much easier bike trail, climbed an insanely steep old skid road,

Image Climbing Upper Twin the hard way

to the Twin Peaks Overlook, for a bigger view out over the Upper Bear Creek Valley.

Image Mount McLoughlin from the Twin Peaks Overlook

Image Roxy Ann Peak is in front of Mount McLoughlin; Tombstone Peak is on the far right

From Upper Twin, we took the switched-back bike trail down to the saddle and contoured west on the Atsahu Trail, a very pleasant combination of old road and new trail that works its way along the south side of Norling Gulch.

Image Along the Atsahu Trail

Image Along the Atsahu Trail

Image Along the Atsahu Trail

Image In places the Atsahu Trail is an old road

Just before the junction of the Atsahu and Shade Creek Trails, we passed the gated closure of the Norling Mine's adit (this mine also featured an open (now gated) vertical shaft - technically a surface-breach stope or "glory hole" - that is at least 100 feet deep). This mine seems to have been most active between 1905 and about 1920; development of the mine in 1905-07 is reported to have produced 120 tons of ore worth $6,400 (big money back in the day). Alas, it didn't last.  But the "good wagon road" built in the early 1900s to service the mine did last to morph into today's Shade Creek Trail.

Image Gated adit of the Norling Mine

We continued on the Atsahu Trail up past Point 3455,

Image Along the Atsahu Trail past Point 3455

to its junction with the Jackson Ridge Trail. Signage along these trails is pretty good (excellent compared to many National Forest trails) but the map brochure we got at the parking lot kiosk helped take a lot of the guesswork out of our loop hike.

Image Cartographic introspection at the Atsahu~Jackson Ridge junction

We turned here and headed east on the Jackson Ridge Trail,

Image Along the Jackson Ridge Trail

then took the trail option that leads to the Jackson Ridge Shelter, for a view west toward Baldy and Timber Mountains and salvage logging of a burn on the slopes of Timber.

Image Jackson Ridge Shelter

Image Salvage logging on Timber Mountain

We then continued on down the Jackson Ridge Trail, through galleries of spindly madrones,

Image Madrones along the Jackson Ridge Trail

past a view of Lower and Upper Twin Peaks,

Image The Twin Peaks from the Jackson Ridge Trail

to our truck at lot P-5. A really great introduction (5.9 mile loop; 1,600 feet of elevation gain) to Forest Park's trails! Judging from the map brochure, there are lots more loop hike opportunities in the park, along with more viewpoints and features (like waterfalls and a grotto) to see. We'll be back...

Image
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Aimless
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Re: Jacksonville Forest Park 16-Feb-2018

Post by Aimless » February 19th, 2018, 11:50 am

Seems like the perfect sort of hike for a sub-freezing but sunny day in February.

The City of Jacksonville, Oregon styles itself The Hiking Capital of Southern Oregon.

How do theirs compare with the trails in and around Ashland?

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VanMarmot
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Re: Jacksonville Forest Park 16-Feb-2018

Post by VanMarmot » February 19th, 2018, 1:41 pm

Aimless wrote:Seems like the perfect sort of hike for a sub-freezing but sunny day in February.

The City of Jacksonville, Oregon styles itself The Hiking Capital of Southern Oregon.

How do theirs compare with the trails in and around Ashland?
I'm guessing - not having actually measured - that the trails west and southwest of Ashland are longer and steeper, and attract more of the serious mountain bikers, than the trails in either Woodlands or Forest Park. This may be because the Ashland trails were developed first. But Forest Park does get its share of bikers.
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Limey
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Re: Jacksonville Forest Park 16-Feb-2018

Post by Limey » February 20th, 2018, 9:51 am

Yet another great report from down south. With The Gorge off limits, maybe we will have to venture down there for a weekend this year. I see The Loved One is still using the strapless backpack. How does she like it? I need to look into something like that.

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Re: Jacksonville Forest Park 16-Feb-2018

Post by VanMarmot » February 20th, 2018, 4:31 pm

Limey wrote:Yet another great report from down south. With The Gorge off limits, maybe we will have to venture down there for a weekend this year. I see The Loved One is still using the strapless backpack. How does she like it? I need to look into something like that.
Thanks! Plenty of trails down here, only a few of which got burned last year.

The LovedOne has had that ME-2 pack for over a year now and has used it on lots of dayhikes and a few backpacks. So far it's worked exactly as advertised - moved the load off her shoulders and compromised upper spine and made hiking comfortable again. If you have shoulder, neck, or upper spine issues that are aggravated by pack straps, you might want to give the ME-2 a try. I recall they have a 30-day trial policy. Plus they're an Oregon (Roseberg) small business. :)
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Limey
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Re: Jacksonville Forest Park 16-Feb-2018

Post by Limey » February 20th, 2018, 5:42 pm

Thanks VM. I can't tolerate weight on my shoulders and a lumbar pack just doesn't hold enough. I will look into the ME-2.

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goingrouge
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Re: Jacksonville Forest Park 16-Feb-2018

Post by goingrouge » February 23rd, 2018, 6:49 pm

Great place to pick yellow morels in a month or two. Prolly early this year.

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