I am frequently asked if there is anything to see while on the Hwy 199 (aka the Redwood Highway), which is the road that connects the coastal towns of Crescent City or Brookings, at the California/Oregon border, to the Rogue Valley.
There are of course the coastal redwoods, not to be missed! Then there are the Oregon Caves, and one could stop at a winery or two as well, but there’s a little known botanical attraction that I feel worth a small amount of time to see — that is Darlingtonia californica. It’s not common in North America to find carnivorous plants in the wild, and that’s exactly what you get to see!
Where are these beauties? One of the quickest and easiest stops is the Darlingtonia Trail. This stop is just off Hwy 199 at mile marker 17.9 (yeah, I know 17.9, but if you get to mile marker 18 you would have missed it). When I say just off, I mean the driveway is the parking lot.
The Darlingtonia Trail
The trail is an easy level stroll; and short, a mere 0.3 miles. The pull out is between Panther Flat Campground and Grassy Flat Campground, on the north side of the highway. For more information.
Setting off on the loop trail, interpretive signs will inform you with the details about the Darlingtonia as well as the trees and shrubs you are seeing along the path, including Incense Cedar, Douglas Fir, salal, evergreen huckleberry and in the right season sweet smelling western azaleas and trilliums.
About Darlingtonia californica
The Darlingtonia californica or otherwise known as California Pitcher plant, or Cobra Pitcher plant is most unusual and uniquely endemic to Southern Oregon and Northern California. It grows in bogs and seeps with cold running water. This plant is designated as uncommon due to its rarity in the field.
Darlintonia is the only species in the genus. The plant was “discovered” in 1841 by the botanist William D. Brackenridge at Mount Shasta, CA. In 1853 it was described by John Torrey, who named the genus Darlingtonia after a Philadelphia botanist. In common with most carnivorous plants, the cobra lily is adapted to supplementing nitrogen through carnivory, which helps compensate lack of available nitrogen.
Because many carnivorous species live in hostile environments, their root systems are commonly as highly modified as their leaves. The cobra lily is able to survive fire by regenerating from its roots, but despite this ability the plants roots are delicate. So please stay on the trail.
The cobra lily is unique among American pitcher plants. It does not trap rainwater in its pitcher. It regulates water inside by releasing or absorbing water into the trap that has been pumped up from the roots. The efficiency of the plant’s trapping ability is attested to by its leaves and pitchers, which are, more often than not, full of insects and their remains.
Rogue River Preserve Botany Walk
Follow my favorite local botanist Kristi Mergenthaler to explore vernal pools, oak woodlands, chaparral and magnificent floodplain forest of the Rogue River Preserve near Eagle Point and Upper Table Rock. Just 35 minutes north from the Chanticleer Inn, makes for an easy day morning/afternoon hike. Afterwards, while in the neighborhood, one can do some wine tasting or cheese/chocolate tasting in Central Point.
In the class/hike, Kristi will acquaint you with the language of botany while looking at the native plants that live on the Rogue River Preserve — a 353-acre valley floor property, including the rare White Fairypoppy, Winged-water Starwort, and White-flowered Navarretia.
We’re also likely to see Lewis’s and Acorn Woodpeckers. Part of the class fees will be donated towards the acquisition of this beautiful place for conservation by Southern Oregon Land Conservancy.
Instructor: Kristi Mergenthaler
Date: Sunday, April 17, 2016
Location: Meet at the Dollar Tree store in White City, 7338 Hwy. 62
Go Siskiyou Field Institute’s website for information
About the Rogue River Preserve
Located along the banks of the Rogue river in Jackson County, Oregon, the historic Rogue River Preserve is an oasis of land and water that has been in the same family for over 70 years. The Southern Oregon Land Conservancy is currently working with the MacAuthor family to buy the property and thus ensure its protection for generations to come. The 352 acre property hosts diverse and rich habitats (many are endemic and endangered), oak savanna, vernal pools, meadows, oak-pine woodlands and chaparral, along 1.5 miles of riverbank. Additionally the property is the second largest riparian gallery forest on the Rogue River upstream of Galice. No wonder hundreds of species call this land home! Its permanent protection will ensure that the extraordinary scenic, wildlife, recreation and habitat values will continue to be a community resource far into the future.
About Siskiyou Field Institute
The mission of the Siskiyou Field Institute is to increase the understanding of, and connection to, the Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion through education, scientific research, and public engagement.
SFI provides the means for the region’s leading scientists and naturalists to share their passion and deep knowledge with the general public with dynamic field courses and youth education and Naturalist Certification programs.
The Institute is where people of all ages and educational background come to learn about and explore the remarkable Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion.
The Institute provides a wide variety of courses on topics from lichen identification to snorkeling with local salmon!
Hike the Gin Lin Mining Trail, April 3, 2016
The Gin Lin Mining trail is part of the Healthy History Hikes series — guided history walks — co-sponsored by the Southern Oregon Historical Society and Ashland YMCA.
Jeff LaLande, who is a retired archeologist for the Forest Service, will lead this 3/4 mile hike along the Gin Lin Trail in the Applegate, near Ruch and the McKee covered bridge. During his years of service, LaLande discovered many of these sites dating back to the early settlers and the gold rush.
Gin Lin was a notable mine boss, contract labor broker, and businessman during the mid- to late 19th century in the Applegate/Jacksonville area. For more details of who Gin Lin is and some of gold rush history see Carolyn Kingsnorth’s article.
Date: Sunday April 3, 2016, 11am-2pm
Where: Gin Lin Mining Trail
Please note: You will need to bring your own water or snack.
Space is limited, so register now!
Register online at www.sohs.org/hikes-list.
Cost: $10/non-members; $5/SOHS & Ashland YMCA members.
Snowshoe Crater Lake This Winter
Popular and free ranger-guided snowshoeing is a wonderful way to see Crater Lake and learn about the local natural history, especially how plants, animals and people have adapted to thrive in the snowiest inhabited place in America.
The views are spectacular when you snowshoe Crater Lake — and snowshoes are really the only way to explore the park because the park receives an average of 43 feet (516 inches) of snow per year.
The snowshoe “walks” are offered every Saturday and Sunday (and some holidays) over the winter for as long as there’s snow up to May 1, 2016. Walks will also be offered on weekdays in late December and early January. Visit the Crater Lake park’s website for the latest in schedule and information — you don’t want to miss the opportunity to snowshoe Crater Lake.
The “walks” begin at 1:00 p.m., last two hours, and cover one mile of moderately strenuous terrain. The hike is an off-trail exploration through the forests and meadows along the rim of Crater Lake.
No previous snowshoeing experience is necessary. Snowshoes are provided free of charge, and there is no cost for the tour. Participants should be at least 8 years old and come prepared with warm clothing and water-resistant footwear.
Space on each tour is limited, and advance reservations are required. For more information and to sign up, call the park’s visitor center at 541-594-3100. The visitor center is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except on December 25. Groups of 10 or more people (such as scout troops, hiking clubs, and church groups) may be able to arrange for a separate tour just for their group.
Crater Lake National Park is open year-round, 24 hours a day. The park’s north entrance and Rim Drive are closed to cars in the winter, but the west and south entrances are plowed daily and are open to automobiles throughout the year. There is no winter lodging in the park, but the Rim Village Café & Gift Shop is open daily except on November 26 and December 25. Spectacular views of Crater Lake can be obtained at Rim Village during periods of clear weather.
Mount McLoughlin from Grizzly Peak’s Trail Head
Mount McLoughlin, easily viewable from the Rogue Valley, is a “Fujiyama-esque” lava cone built on top of a composite volcano. For most years, and sometimes all year round, there usually is snow on top. Lately however due to the lack of winter rains, this mountain is bare and brown — like too many other peaks in the Cascades.
Its elevation is about 9,495 feet. When I see that number, I always think, surely a team of burly and determined youths should haul up rocks and dirt to obtain an extra 5 feet so the height would be a nice round 9,500 ft.
Hiking in Ashland
It’s easy to do hiking in Ashland … go out the front door and walk uphill a few blocks. There are wonderful trails and country roads all throughout the “water shed” — an area that forms the foothills of Mt. Ashland.
Today I walked along “the ditch”, as the locals refer to the Talent Irrigation District Ditch. A water way source that comes from the mountain lakes in the Cascades, the ditch was built in the early part of the last century for agricultural use around Ashland. Now it’s a back up source, if/when the water from Mt. Ashland dips too low.
I love hiking in Ashland, you can get out into the country within mere minutes.
For more information go to the Ashland Trails Organization website
Lower Table Rock Trail
This is one of my favorite springtime trails, especially during the mid-week. I like that it goes through a few distinct eco-systems, each with its own set of wild flowers. The trail starts from the car park and briefly goes through oak savannah, where you see meadow/woodland flowers, such as camas, buttercups, mariposa lilies, shooting stars, with white oak trees and chaparral. The trail then steadily winds through more forested and shady section as it climbs up the side of the mesa. On top of the mesa, is where you can see the mounded prairie and vernal pool plant communities. The meadow flowers that form concentric circles around the vernal pools are especially striking. Depending on how much spring rain we get, the vernal pools might be seen as late as early May. It’s usually better to go in April.
The Table Rock vernal pools are micro-ecosystems of habitat that support a federally threatened species of fairy shrimp and a state endangered plant called dwarf wooly meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. pumila). This plant is endemic to the Table Rocks, meaning it is found nowhere else in the world.
You can see Mt. McLoughlin and Mt Ashland from the top of the mesa, as well as the Rogue Valley floor stretching south toward the Siskiyous.
From Interstate 5, take Exit #33 heading east one mile on East Pine Street and turn north (left) at the second signal onto Table Rock Road. Drive 10 miles to Wheeler Road and turn west (left). The sign for Lower Table Rock Trail is well posted. The trail head is accessible off of Wheeler Road.
Details of the Lower Table Rock Trail
The trail is 1.75 miles long. It is a moderately difficult trail approximately .5 miles longer than Upper Table Rock Trail. Lower Table Rock Trail offers interpretive signs for hikers. Water is not available along the trail or at the trailhead. Allow approximately 4 hours for a round trip hike.
For those eager to extend their hike, you may enjoy walking along the abandoned airstrip to the edge of the rock. This will add an extra mile to your trip. The south edge of the rock offers a great view of the unique habitat of Kelly Slough. This wetland lies 800 feet below and provides unique habitat for many aquatic birds.
Guided Lithia Park Nature Walks — Free
From May to September, no matter the weather, a trained docent naturalists will lead a fun, informative and easy 1.5 hour nature walk through Ashland’s gem — Lithia Park.
Topics include: trees, flowers, birds, climate, water and history of the park.
Days: Sunday, Wednesday and Friday (Saturday in July and August)
Time: 10 am
Meeting point: park entrance nearest the Plaza
And yes, you can do it all! You can enjoy the Chanticleer breakfast and get to the nature walk on time without being rushed.
Wild Flowers at Upper Table Rock
Upper Table Rock is one of the two mesas just north of Medford. You can see them from I-5 at the north end of the Rogue Valley.
There are a nice hikes to the top of both mesas with wonderful views of the Rogue Valley. Upper Table Rock as well as Lower Table Rock are two of my favorite early spring hiking trails.
It’s that time of the year again, spring flowers are popping. Fawn Lilies, buttercups, desert parsley are flowering. Hounds tongue, camas and lupine are leafing out. With little rain, the flowers might not last long, but they are beautiful!
THIS WEEKEND ONLY: Crater Lake’s East Rim Drive Opens for Non-Motorized Recreation
June 22 and 23, 2013 East Rim Drive circling Crater Lake will be open to non-motorized traffic only. Early snow melt allows the park to offer this rare opportunity to enjoy Crater Lake at a slower and quieter pace for pedestrians and bicyclists.