Dear Fellow Trail Enthusiasts,

2017 has been a momentous year for community trails and all of you made it possible! Since SUTA was first launched in the fall of 2009, we have had a goal of building the Jack-Ash Trail.  In 2017, with great help from the Medford BLM, we completed the first Phase of the Jack-Ash Trail. The Jack-Ash Trail (Phase I) now connects both ends of the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail, creating a roughly 40-mile loop for everyone’s use! That is worth a major celebration.

[A view from the Jack-Ash Trail and our trail logo you will see on signs]

In addition to building the new Jack-Ash trail, SUTA held seven trail work parties on the Sterling Mine Ditch and the Jack-Ash Trails, has been involved with several events on the trail with the assistance of REI, and has worked with wonderful local crews to keep our trails open. Here’s a shot from an REI sponsored wildflower hike on the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail led by Marion Hadden.

We want to thank all of you who participated in the accomplishments of the year, whether it was through volunteer hours on the trail or financial support. Thank you to the wonderful community of volunteers who collectively spent over 600 hours lopping and sawing branches, digging and pulling out poison oak, pushing rocks and downed trees out of the trail, repairing the tread, hacking out stumps, and much more. When you go out for a hike you probably won’t notice the missing branches or smooth tread, but you would definitely notice if they were still there. The trail would not be in the condition it is without these volunteer hours. Thank you to all of you who volunteered.

The extraordinary crew of 15 local people whom SUTA hired to build the Jack-Ash Trail were not only a joy to work with, they were talented, hard-working and they built a spectacularly beautiful trail. The fruits of their trail-building skills will be enjoyed for decades to come.  [A shot of part of our Jack-Ash crew hiking out  after a long day of digging yards of dirt, rock and vegetation and on the right – Rogue WorkSource Crew, SUTA Jack-Ash Crew and volunteers finishing the last switchback in early June ]

And a large thank you to WorkSource Rogue Valley, who provided stellar youth crews run by Abby Nichols to help at key times during the construction of the Jack-Ash. Their work included hauling rocks, clearing in advance of the tread work, as well as other key help.

SUTA’s 2017 accomplishments would not have been possible with the unbelievable support from the Medford BLM in 2017. Many people from the Medford BLM put in days of work clearing the path for the trail. BLM gave us trail building advice, provided days of help from Northwest Youth Corp crews, loaned us radios and rock slings, put up signs, and made many key finishing touches that made it possible to open the Jack-Ash Trail this summer. In particular, we thank Zach Million at BLM, who really made the trail project possible. We are greatly appreciative of their help.

[Zach Million, US BLM taking a break from digging tread above the Greenstone Trailhead and Duane Mallams (seated) master trail designer, construction genius and relentless worker with Haley Lara and Rob Weston, two Jack-Ash Trail crew members enjoying the rock bench just built by the crew]

Our final thanks go to several special 2017 stars among our many wonderful volunteers: Duane Mallams designed, organized, and managed the entire Jack-Ash Trail project. Without Duane the trail would not have been built. And while he was overseeing our trail, he simultaneously worked on the new East Art Trail for ATA! Unbelievable – the local trail hero!  We also want to thank the talented Joni Hankin, who handles our website and Facebook page, putting in more hours than any of us can possibly know! Joni handles endless requests for posting photos, notices, maps and more with great finesse. Thank you both!

As we look forward to 2018 and recover from this busy year, we plan to start the work necessary for the next phase of the Jack-Ash Trail. As we all know, this is not a quick process so it will be several years before we do any more construction. And now that we know it costs roughly $10,000/mile of new trail, it’s a lucky thing we have some time!

We wish you all a Happy Holiday

and many miles of great hiking and riding in 2018.

From the SUTA Board,

From left to right  seated – Joy Rogalla, Anne Carter, Hope Robertson, Jannalee Smithey,  Jeffrey Judkins, standing – Autumn MacIver and Jim Clover: Celebrating the Jack-Ash Trail


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