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.
Hiking Grizzly Peak
One of my all time favorite hikes is up on Grizzly Peak. Northeast of Ashland, Grizzly Peak is the tallest peak viewable from the Chanticleer Inn.
This hike affords great sweeping views: From the car park view Mt. McLoughlin and on a clear day the peaks surrounding Crater Lake. Then from the trail, the entire Rogue and Bear Creek Valleys. Further west and south on the trail you can see Mt. Ashland, Emigrant Lake, Pilot Rock and Mt. Shasta.
The trail is about fairly easy, 5 miles round trip, some elevation gain but not at all difficult. Directions to the trail head.
The Flowers of Grizzly Peak are best part!
From spring to late summer, the flowers are too many to count and each kind is wonderful. Trail runs through forest, meadows and rocky outcrops: each area is packed with a variety of flowers. The blooms rotate through the entire season. One can hike Grizzly Peak every two weeks and see different bouquets.
A Day Trip on the Jacksonville Woodlands Trail
Yesterday, friends and I spent an afternoon in Jacksonville. This is my first time exploring the Jacksonville Woodlands trail system — loved it!
Jacksonville, a darling historic town, is less than 30 minutes from Ashland. Each time I visit it seems to get better.
The shops are fun to poke around in, but in deference to my [male] friend, instead of antique, toy, and cooking shops, we went for a quick hike through the Jacksonville Woodlands trail system.
The trails switch back and forth above the Britt Festival. Any number of trail heads are easily accessed near downtown. The hillside is full of native Madrones, Oaks, and lots of little native wildflowers. Spring is the best time to see the wildflowers. The trail is well shaded and would be a great respite from the summer heat.
Increasingly there are wine tasting rooms cropping up in downtown proper … recommended by many is Quady North on California St.
One of my favorite eateries is C St. Bistro (closed Sundays).
Sunny and Bright on Mt Ashland
Yesterday, was a perfect day for frolicking in the snow on Mt Ashland. Locals and visitors alike were out on the mountain downhill/Nordic skiing, boarding and snowshoeing, taking in the sunshine and the views of the Siskiyou and Cascades.
The best kept secret in southern Oregon, if it’s not raining, we have sunshine! Now that might seem like a dumb thing to say, especially if you’re from California. But in places further north starting, say Eugene, no rain can still mean a gray sunless dreary day — for what seems like months on end. But not here in the Rouge Valley!