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Fish Hatchery Park Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The Applegate River at Fish Hatchery Park (bobcat)
Common tarweed (Madia elegans), Fish Hatchery Park (bobcat)
Route of the old stagecoach road in Fish Hatchery Park (bobcat)
White oak acorn, Fish Hatchery Park (bobcat)
The nature trail loop at Josephine County's Fish Hatchery Park (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Fish Hatchery Park Trailhead
  • Ending Point: Turtle Lane Viewpoint
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 140 feet
  • High Point: 1,080 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

Between 1912 and 1936, a fish hatchery operated just down the Applegate River from today’s Fish Hatchery Park. Coho, Chinook, and steelhead eggs were collected here and sent to many places in the U.S. and the world. Nowadays, this Josephine County Park offers public access to a tranquil stretch of the Applegate River. A numbered nature trail takes you along the lower serpentine slopes of Bolt Mountain (See the Bolt Mountain Hike) and back up the Applegate. A detailed guide to the nature trail is available on Josephine County's website: Fish Hatchery Park.

To begin the loop, walk west past a yellow gate and reach a kiosk for the nature trail. Head right, with Station #1 pointing out a gnarly big-leaf maple. The trail passes through an oak grassland being colonized by incense cedar, Jeffery pine, Oregon ash, and Pacific madrone. Then it crosses a footbridge, following which you'll keep right at three junctions. The path enters a thicker woodland on an old road bed and then leaves the road to cross a ditch. It arrives at another meadow which flits with butterflies in spring and summer. You'll see how the poison oak climbs high up the conifers. The slopes of Bolt Mountain ascend above. Pass through a camas meadow (#8) and then enter a climax meadow (#9) with native grasses little changed since Euro-American settlement. Yellow tarweed will bloom into the fall here, and buckbrush grows in prickly clumps. The path makes two switchbacks up a slope of red peridotite colonized by serpentine-adapted Jeffery pines. From Post #13, you can see directly across the Applegate to Eagle Mountain. To the right, you may glimpse Marble Mountain, a cave-riddled hill that produced limestone and marble from the 1880s to the 1950s.

The trail drops to a bench on an old road bed at Station #14. A view across the Applegate has you looking at the forested Turtle Lane section of the park. The area is a breeding location for western pond turtles. Keep right at a junction in the road, and cross a grassy area which harbors a small spring. The road bed is the old stagecoach route to the settlement of Wilderville, just west of here. Pass a buckbrush meadow, cross a gully, and go right at Post #16. Then the trail enters woods lush with poison oak. Post #17 points out a large 200-year-old madrone. Above a cobbled river bench, a seasonal flood channel, the trail swings right. Clumps of willow have taken hold here. Keep right at Station #21, and get views to a private estate across the Applegate. Then you'll cross a stream bed and pass through a stand of white oak. Reach the kiosk, and keep straight for your car.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $5 daily parking fee
  • Open sunrise to sunset
  • Restrooms, picnic area, information kiosk; park host on duty


Trip Reports

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Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • none

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Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.