Trail Talk – May 2017

As our hit-and-miss spring heads into an uncertain summer, more folks find themselves on our forest trails. An unusually-wet winter gives way to drier days when intrepid hikers take to the woods to enjoy a walk amidst the carpets of flowers, cascading streams, and trees alive with birdsong. Cool crisp mornings and a need for a sunny perch give way to warm days, when shade is a blessing. It’s Spring in the Siskiyou Provinces, and our daily weather becomes an adventure all in itself. Be prepared for anything and be certain to have some sunscreen and your sunglasses in that raincoat pocket.

Our park volunteers have been busy the last few months sprucing up the arboretum, clearing storm debris from our trails and repairing water erosion damage, adding a foot-bridge at the confluence of Jackson and Cantrall Creeks, finishing maintenance on Siskiyou Trail in Forest Park, (more on that in a bit) chopping back overhanging shrubbery and pulling poison oak, as well as planting over 400 native plants at the old dam site and throughout Forest Park. A new botanical area with a comfortable pedestrian-friendly path is underway at the lower kiosk in the park.

Siskiyou Trail is open for hikers. Contouring along the steep hillsides of the eastern boundary of the park, it prides itself on its spring flowers and views of the Siskiyou Crest to the south. Traveling it from north to south gives a fuller appreciation of its expansive vistas.

Start out from parking area P2, up Norling Trail, and cross the new foot bridge over Jackson Creek at its confluence with Cantrall Creek. Continue up across Norling Road onto Ridgeview Trail, cross Cantrall Creek at Golden Cave, and head up and to the the right, to meet Reservoir Road at P4. The Siskiyou Trailhead is at the lower end of the parking area.

A short climb up an abandoned, but heavily-eroded motorcycle trail will bring you to a hikers’ route up to the Halls of Manzanita Trail. Save that for another day, and turn right and follow Siskiyou Trail through a couple of gullies, arriving at Siskiyou View Loop Trail. This half-mile loop leads you up to a prominent knob with excellent views of distant Dutchman Peak and Red Mountain, where the Pacific Crest Trail comes from California into Oregon. A firebreak here allows a peek down into Jacksonville’s old water reservoir, where young manzanita promise to regrow into a hilltop thicket.

Returning to Siskiyou Trail proper, turn left, and as you round each ridge, the Siskiyou Crest greets you again and again. More gullies promise thin cascades of water in the wet season, but come up dry on the hot days when you’d welcome water the most. Passing a spur down to Rail Trail, (a shortcut to your car) continue on, as the view south becomes more expansive. A series of gentle switchbacks take you down through bird bills, fawn lilies, frittillaries, buckwheat, larkspur; finally arriving at Ponderosa Snag Trail. A right turn takes you back to your car at P2. Enjoy the trails.