Upper and Lower Table Rock Trails
Upper and Lower Table Rock trails are some of my favorite springtime trails, especially during the mid-week. I like that they go through a few distinct eco-systems, each with its own set of wild flowers. The trails start from two separate car parks and briefly go through oak savannah, where you see meadow/woodland flowers, such as camas, buttercups, mariposa lilies, shooting stars, with white oak trees and chaparral. The trails then steadily wind through more forested and shady section as they climb up the side of their mesas. On top of each mesas, 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 mesas, as well as the Rogue Valley floor stretching south toward the Klamath/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. For Upper Table Rock, turn right on Modoc Road. For Lower Table Rock continue to Wheeler Road and turn west (left). The signs for both Upper and Lower Table Rock Trails are well posted.
Details of the Upper and Lower Table Rock Trails
Parking and toilet facilities are available at each trail. Water is not available along the trails or at the trailhead. Dogs are not allowed on the trails. Allow approximately 2-3 hours for a round trip hike — time depends on fitness and how much gawking one does along the way.
Upper and Lower Table Rocks are side-by-side mesas. The Upper Table Rock mesa is shorter and the Lower Table Rock mesa is taller. Yeah, it took me awhile to work out that the upper and lower designations didn’t describe height, but pertained to positions vis-a-vis the Rogue river. Up river = Upper Table Rock: further down river = Lower Table Rock.
Upper Table Rock’s out and back trail is 2.5 miles, with an elevation gain of 730 feet. You can extend the walk for as long as you like by wandering on top of the mesa.
Lower Table Rock’s trail is 3.5 miles round trip with elevation gain 770 feet. It is a moderately difficult trail. The trail offers interpretive signs for hikers. 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.
Both trails at their south edges of the rock offer a great view of the unique habitat of Kelly Slough. This wetland lies 800 feet below and provides unique habitat for many aquatic birds.
Lithia Park Blossoms in the Early Spring
For floral displays, Lithia Park blossoms are a three-season destination. After attending Ashland Garden Club at the Community Center on Winburn, we wandered through Lithia Park. I wanted to see which tree were blossoming, and if perhaps, the rhododendrons were starting to bloom. The tulip magnolias and plum trees were still in full bloom, but we’ll have to return for the rhodies.
We are lucky to have such a lovely park, and so accessible to downtown.
Then on the walk back to the Chanticleer at the corner of E. Main and Gresham, here is a picture of Ashland’s library over blooming Oregon grape. Oregon grape, by the way, is the State of Oregon’s flower.
Table Rock Geology and Its Influence on Plant Communities, a Siskiyou Field Institute Class
Instructor: Larry Broeker
Date: Saturday, April 8, 2017
Location: Introduction at Central Point Library; class will then carpool to Upper Table Rock parking lot.
We will examine the geologic events that shaped architecture of the Rogue Valley and surrounding foothills, specifically the origin and transformation of the Table Rocks.
This field course begins with an introductory slide presentation at the Central Point Library, then continues in the field with a hike up the Upper Table Rock trail to the summit, then travel to various points of geologic and ecologic interest on its southeast arm. On our trip, we will observe mass-wasting processes of erosion as well as explore three distinct microhabitats that host diverse plant communities.
Register for this course.
About Siskiyou Field Institute
Siskiyou Field Institute offers wonderful immersive workshops and classes for those who what to learn about natural history of the Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion. This special area of the world is one of the six global “hot spots” for flora and fauna biodiversity.
The Chanticleer Inn has a history of supporting SFI and promoting their education, research and community programs.
Jay Nicholas is one of fly-fishing’s resident all-stars. If you haven’t seen one his recently published books like Advanced Intruder Strategies or Intruder Essentials, you have likely seen one of his many tying videos. A retired fish biologist, Jay has a fervent passion for salmon, steelhead, sea bass, albacore, and every other fish that swims off the Pacific coast.
Join Jay Nicholas on Friday night in the Ashland Fly Shop for a book signing; and again for his tying class and presentation Saturday.
Friday, March 24, 2017
- 2-5pm Book Signing and Q & A with Jay
Saturday, March 25, 2017
- 1-4 pm: Steelhead Tying Class: Tube Flies ($50)
Learn to tie steelhead tube flies like intruders, bunny and marabou leeches, and the silveynator. These are bread and butter flies that get ’em!
- 4-6 pm: Tidewater Chinook Flies and Video with Jay Nicholas (Free!)
Bug n’ Brew is a series of classes and workshops hosted by Ashland Fly Shop on the corner of Main St. and 3rd St in Ashland Oregon. This year (2017) you will have the opportunity to take a class from some of the Northwest’s most innovative steelhead fly tyers. Each class is $50, or all four classes at a discount of $180. Following the class, each tyer will give a free presentation on various topics. Check out the schedule here and get signed up while there’s still room!
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 absolutely 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 weekend on Saturday and Sunday (and on some holidays) over the winter for as long as there’s snow up to April 30, 2017. 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 to two miles of moderately strenuous terrain. The ranger will lead the hike off-trail to explore the forests and meadows along the rim of Crater Lake.
Never snowshoed? No problem! No previous snowshoeing experience is necessary. Snowshoes are provided free of charge, and there is no cost for the tour. The rangers restrict the age starting at 8 years old. One should come prepared with warm clothing (dress in layers, it gets warm when you’re moving about, but can get cold quickly when standing about) Wear water-resistant footwear (Gortex), I prefer to use gaiters as well.
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.
Ashland Fly Shop Videos
Ashland Fly Shop is just down the street from the Chanticleer Inn, on the corner of 3rd and E. Main.
Fly Fishing Report:
Will from Ashland Fly Shop occasionally sends out reports. This one is in a video format. Will talks about the weather, the rivers and where the winter fish are.
Two Minute Drill — Mending Your Spey Line
For a how-to video on Mending your spey line
Local Hiking Trails In and Around Ashland
This winter, between rainstorms, Jim and I found some time to explore the local hiking trails in and around Ashland. My goal was to expand my first-hand knowledge of trails that are dog-friendly [on-leash! ] and/or easy to get to from the Chanticleer Inn. The City of Ashland has some online maps of Ashland’s trails.
So far, we especially enjoyed the trails in Hald Strawberry Park and Ashland Watershed. Judging from the over-wintering plants, evidence of last summer’s growth, and evergreen trees, come springtime all of these trails will have an abundance of native flowers.
There will be more blog posts describing additional trails and walks in and around Ashland; meanwhile here are two hikes:
Hald Strawberry Park
This park is situated west of Lithia Park, uphill from Granite St. A small network of trails wend through the chaparral habitat with native madrone, manzanita, and oak. On the highest point you will find a bench which provides a view toward the Rogue Valley. From the park’s gentle hills there are many lovely views overlooking Ashland’s downtown with the Bear Creek Valley and the Western Cascades in the background.
To get to the park: from Granite St. take Strawberry Lane (it will be a bit steep uphill). The trail crosses Strawberry Lane just after Alnutt St. Take a right onto the trail — one can go left, but it will be a dead end before too long. Once on the trail going north, you will come to a fork, I would opt for left. After that, consult the map as the trails in this park crisscross and loop around a knoll. It not difficult to find one’s way out of the park, just go downhill, you will either come out the way you came, or onto Skycrest Dr. or Ditch Road.
One of Many Local Hiking Trails in the Ashland Watershed
This hike has a picnic table, so think about packing a snack.
There is a collection of local hiking trails in Ashland’s Watershed, many of those closest to town (south and uphill) have Alice in Wonderland themed names. They are tightly networked and for the most part well marked, but I recommend bring a map. I always have a stack of the maps in the inn’s foyer.
For those who want approximately 1.5 to 2 hour roundtrip hike starting from and returning to the Chanticleer, here is one of several possibilities.
Similar to Hald Strawberry, but with more conifers, this area will have native wildflowers in the spring.
Directions: From the Chanticleer Inn walk uphill. It will be steep: just keep in mind you’ll be going back down on the return! Gresham St. ends at Holly St., turn right and make an immediate left onto Gutherie. Then take Herbert which veers off (forks) to the right. The trailhead will be on your left between two residential houses. This trail will bisect Cottle-Philips Property and end at Ashland Loop Road. Turn left onto the road and look on the right for the Red Queen trail. Once on the Red Queen, you’re in the Watershed, now choose one of the two below.
Shorter loop: continue on Red Queen, pick up JubJub and stay to the right. In a very short distance you’ll cross the BTI (this is the big red/white line on the map which is bike only), in a short distance turn right on Bandersnatch. Follow Bandersnatch as it switchbacks three times, evens out the trail, and crosses BTI again. A couple more switchbacks and you’ll be on a knoll with a picnic table. Continue downhill and you’ll spill out on Waterline. Continue downhill, you’ll get on Glenview and then right/back up onto Waterline. About a block or so, you’ll be back on Ashland Loop road and you can retrace your steps downhill to the inn.
Longer Loop: continue on Red Queen, turn left onto JubJub. In a short distance you’ll cross the BTI (this is the big red/white line on the map which is bike only), and almost immediately turn right/south onto Bandersnatch. Bandersnatch will parallel BTI going south for ~.25mi then cross BTI again and turn west and follow the switchbacks uphill. You’ll once again cross over the BTI, in a couple more switchbacks and you’ll be on a knoll with a picnic table. Continue downhill and you’ll spill out on Waterline. Continue downhill, you’ll get on Glenview and then right/back up onto Waterline. About a block or so, you’ll be back on Ashland Loop road and you can retrace your steps downhill to the inn.
Dog Friendly Parks and Trails
Frequently, guests who like to hike and walk with their dogs are disappointed when they discover Lithia Park is off limits for dogs — even on leash. The sidewalk and the multi-purpose trail around the park is dog-friendly. Go here for a close up map of Lithia Park and the uphill trails west of the park, showing where you may walk with Fido. Additionally there are a number of city parks throughout Ashland, and trails up on the watershed that are dog friendly. There is also an off-leash dog park. Many trails and parks are easily accessible from the inn and downtown.
Go here for the City of Ashland’s map of the dog friendly parks and trails.
This winter, weather permitting, Jim and I have been exploring some of the local close to the town trails. We especially enjoyed these walks: Hald Strawberry Park and Red Queen-Bandersnatch trails. For more detailed description of these trails, please follow the links.
Ashland watershed stretches quite a bit south and west from Ashland, totaling 15,000 acres, it includes Mt. Ashland (7,533′) at the furtherest south and four other peaks (ranging from 4,650′ to 7,253′) circling the watershed to the west and south. In future blog posts, I will describe more of these trails and how to get to the trailheads.
Dogs on leash are welcome throughout the Ashland Watershed which is uphill and south of the town. The trails closer into town are very accessible from the Chanticleer inn on foot. They are well maintained. Some are hiking-only, some are biking-only, and others are mix use. Be sure to ask me for trail maps. The Chamber of Commerce hands them out for free.
Many locals do not respect the leash-only rules. Some dogs stay close and will obey ‘come back’ commands. Unfortunately, many do not. The rules are in place for the safety of the dogs, other hikers, and wildlife. There is abundant wildlife in the hills, some will be dog aggressive: bear, cougar and deer.
All of the watershed trails that are close to town have names of characters and creatures in Alice in Wonderland. No one has been able to tell me why or when that naming tradition got started, but it does make one feel like a true local when talking about the trails.
Charles St. Pierre, presenter at Bug ‘n Brew 2017
Pierre is best known for his signature patterns like the Hoh Bo Spey fly. Pierre is also a veteran Kanektok King Salmon fisherman, an Olympic Peninsula steelhead junky, and owns Northwest Spey Casting. He is one of the most talented and patient Spey instructors around.
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Steelhead Tying Class: CSP’s Signature Flies ($50)
- Learn to tie the popular and deadly Hoh Bo Spey, Foxy Dog, and GP Spey.
- 4-6 pm: Steelhead Confidence Flies (Free!)
Sunday, March 5, 2017
- 10am to 1 pm: Spey Clinic w/ Charles St. Pierre ($95)
- Spey Tune-Up and Winter Steelhead Tactics
All Steelhead Tying Classes and Free Presentations will be held at the Ashland Fly Shop on 399 E. Main St. Ashland OR, 541 488-6454. Spey Clinics will be held at Tou Velle Park on the Rogue River.
Rogue Undammed: River Ecology from a Raft
What happens to a river and its habitats once the dams go away? Find out as you raft Rogue River and immerse yourself in its ecology during this removal and restoration adventure.
The session will start at approximately 9 am at the TouVelle State Park boat launch area (north side of river downstream from Table Rock Road bridge). After a short introduction, the group will raft Rogue River for approximately 6 miles (river mile 131 to river mile 125), stopping along the way to observe and discuss river processes such as sediment movement, habitat complexity, river channel features.
The group will stop near Bear Creek for lunch and the site of the former Gold Ray Dam to see and discuss restoration and monitoring actions since the dam was removed in August 2010. Float will then proceed to the take out point.
Instructor: Craig Tuss, M.S.
Date: Sunday, August 21 , 2016
Location: Meet at TouVelle State Park boat launch
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!