The Siskiyou Upland Trails Association is excited to begin construction of the long-awaited Jack-Ash Trail. Last November, construction started for the first phase of the Jack-Ash Trail, thanks to help from the Medford BLM, local volunteers, and a Northwest Youth Corp Crew. Significant progress was made for several weeks, and then winter came along with record snow and rain, making trail work impossible until late February.
The plan (if the weather cooperates) is to complete most of the new trail for this phase of construction by mid-May. With spring finally arriving, we are hoping that we can now make steady progress in building 4.5 miles of new trail for hikers, runners, equestrians and bicyclists. When complete, Phase I of the Jack-Ash trail will connect both ends of the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail using a combination of new trail and existing BLM roads. This will create a 40-mile loop over and around the Anderson Butte Complex, with many opportunities for short and long hikes and rides. Once this phase is complete, SUTA will turn its attention to Phase II which will focus on the north and south ends of the trail that will connect to the Jacksonville and Ashland trail systems.
When Phase I of the Jack-Ash is completed, you will be able to wander through wonderful madrone and manzanita woodlands, mature open forests, and open meadows filled with wildflowers and rock outcroppings, not to mention the stunning 360-degree views. When the trail reaches the top of Anderson Butte right below the remnants of the old fire lookout tower, you will have a panoramic view for several miles of the entire Little Applegate Valley and well beyond. The wildflowers are always spectacular across the western face of Anderson Butte, and due to the 5100-foot elevation, they bloom later than the lower elevations and you can get a second chance to see your favorite flowers. Plus at this elevation there is little poison oak—an added bonus for the trail users!
The work involved in constructing a new trail is significant—especially considering the steep slopes and some rocky and heavily-wooded terrain—as found on the Jack-Ash. SUTA has hired a crew of local trail blazers to construct the trail, thanks to Title II grant funding. We have partnered with Rogue WorkSource to staff the trail crew and provide their wonderfully-talented youth crew to assist in construction when possible. Many volunteers continue to help out when they can, but special recognition goes to Duane Mallums, whose tireless work has really made this project possible.
Another key person in making the trail possible is Zach Million, Outdoor Recreation Planner at the Medford BLM. Zach has supported this project for the last several years and we are extremely grateful for his hands-on, efficient and steady guidance for this project. He has been a tremendous advocate for recreation in this area. Unfortunately, he will be moving to Alaska soon but his impact on recreation in the Rogue Valley will last for a long time.
In early May we will be having a large community trail work day where people can come out and not only see the trail but help us finish building it. Details will be posted on SUTA’s website www.SUTAOregon.org. We look forward to seeing you out taking a hike or going for a ride in the not-to-distant future on the Jack-Ash.