Trail Talk – September 2014

One thinks of recreation in Jacksonville with a strong bias toward wining, dining, shopping, and concert-going. Yet, for the outdoor enthusiast, there’s a wide choice of areas for hiking and running away from crowded areas. Most folks know of the Britt Trails, but across Highway 238 to the west and north, lie miles of well-maintained forest trails begging to be enjoyed.

Jacksonville’s newest trail-running venue boasts many opportunities for those looking for some time away from paved roads and traffic fumes. It’s truly an “all-seasons” area, with cooler trails along shaded waterways on summer days and open ridge trails on those foggy days. A variety of loop runs are possible with lengths ranging from 20 minutes to a couple of hours. Maps are available at the kiosk parking area near the park entrance, just one mile up Reservoir Road.

A great summer jaunt starts at the kiosk, and goes up the Rail Trail and Norling Trail to Canyon Falls Trail, then upstream onto Shade Creek Trail. At the top of Shade Creek Trail, cross the access road onto Legburner Trail up to Jackson Ridge Trail. A left turn will take you up, then down to Jackson Creek Trail, which you can follow downstream to Boulder Trail, Ol’ Miners Trail, and back to your car at the lower kiosk. To shorten the run, turn right onto Jackson Ridge Trail and run downhill to Canyon Vista Trail, then over to Jackson Creek Trail, where you join the other route back to the parking area. A strong runner can expect to run this in a bit over an hour while a strong walker should expect it to take a of couple hours to complete.

Carry water. These routes boast a few long, flat stretches with some moderate up and downhills. Much of it is shaded; in fact, Shade Creek Trail along Norling Gulch boasts water late into summer. Don’t be surprised to see deer, gray squirrels, and ruffed grouse on this route. Other routes are more suited for those cold, foggy days of the Rogue Valley winter. As mentioned, multiple loops are possible. And even better, more trails are planned for future construction, so stay tuned!

This is also the time we begin planning for next years’ projects, so if you’ve got ideas or suggestions for either the Jacksonville Woodlands or the Forest Park, please feel free to submit them to the JWA at