December 2023 Update

As we head into winter after a beautiful and colorful fall, we’d like to share some updates about all the things that have been accomplished out on the trails, with more planned in the next few months. There’s a lot of progress we’ve been making with trail maintenance and construction, and with future planning.

Trail Status

First of all, thanks to lots of work by volunteers and our BLM partners for continuing to come out to help keep these trails open. It’s great to see so many hikers, runners, mountain bikers, and equestrians enjoying the trails! Both the Jack-Ash and Sterling Mine Ditch Trails are in good condition going into the winter. The weed-whacking completed in late spring has helped keep the trails clear of encroaching vegetation. There are still some trees down on the trails, and we’ll continue to clear them as volunteers or BLM staff are available.

What’s New?

We completed installation of kiosks and parking area improvements at the Anderson Ridge, Greenstone, and Griffin Gap Trailheads on the Jack-Ash Trail in October. Thanks to the volunteers who came out to initially remove trash and debris before beginning the grading and kiosk installation. We removed more than three pickup-loads of trash and will continue to monitor the trailhead conditions.

The work for the improvements was funded using our Title II grant for trail maintenance and improvements. The kiosks were provided by BLM. The trailhead parking areas are much better defined, and new trail head signs have been installed. We still need to finish putting up maps and trail information on the kiosks, and plan to have that completed soon.

New Trail Construction!

We’ve begun construction of up to five miles of new trails on Anderson Butte that will create new connections and loops within the SMDT using grant funds from a Recreational Trails Program grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. We’re excited that we’ll be able to complete the new loop trail segments that will connect the Wolf Gap access trail to Tunnel Ridge and Wolf Gulch. Once we complete those trail segments and see how much funding remains, we’ll determine which additional segments to complete. We anticipate these new trail segments will be completed by mid-late February and will announce when they are open for public access. Note that these will be open for foot traffic only due to the extremely steep and rocky slopes that they cross.

We are applying for grants to fund the remaining miles of trails and are hopeful that we’ll be successful and be able to complete construction in 2024. Construction costs for each mile of trail range from $15,000-$17,000, so we have a big task ahead of us to raise all the funds needed to complete this project.

We can’t do it Without our Volunteers!

We had several work parties during the past season and were happy to have many returning volunteers as well as lots of newcomers. We held the first monthly work party for this fall/winter season in November and plan monthly work parties through April. The dates are posted on the SUTA website and in the SMDT kiosks. The volunteers who come out to work on these days are important to maintaining the trails for everyone, and we’re so grateful for all the returning and new volunteers who come out each month. Some of this season’s work parties will be held on the new trail segments, and volunteers can help build the new trails or help fine-tune the newly constructed sections.

We also have volunteers who are constantly trying to keep the trail clear when trees come down. It helps us to know about these, so please report any trees you observe that are down along the trail and we’ll work on getting them cleared. Unfortunately, there are some areas where there are many standing dead trees, so it’s unavoidable to have some come down across the trail after stormy and windy days. Report downed trees by emailing us at

We are looking for new board members to join us as we continue to maintain and promote the existing trails and plan for the next phases of trail development. If you’re interested, please email us at to learn more.

Our “Signature Trail” has a New Name!

We shared the news about the Jack-Ash and Applegate Ridge Trails being included in the Oregon Trails Coalition Signature Trail inventory in our last update. The Oregon Signature Trails Inventory Report describes the 15 long-distance trails that were selected as representing the iconic beauty of Oregon landscapes and providing unforgettable experiences for trail users. Investing in signature trails will elevate pride and prosperity for communities across the state, providing amazing experiences for Oregonians in their own backyards.

We realized that our entire signature trail needed a more descriptive name and held a naming contest over the summer in coordination with the Applegate Trails Association (ATA) that is developing the Applegate Ridge Trail. The winner is “Siskiyou Skyline Trail.” You’ll see that name on some of the maps in the Jack-Ash Trailhead kiosks and other places.

The Siskiyou Skyline Trail will ultimately connect the Pacific Crest Trail to Ashland, Jacksonville, and Grants Pass with approximately 90 miles of trails (see the map on our website) While much of the trail is still in the conceptual or planning phases, this designation will help both SUTA and ATA with promoting the trails and with moving forward with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for the planned trails, as well as giving us more visibility and potential options for funding construction once new trail segments are approved.

SUTA and ATA have also received a technical assistance grant from the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program operated under the National Park Service. This technical assistance is helping both groups with raising awareness about the trails, coordinating with BLM and USFS, and other interested user and environmental groups who have an interest in development of the trails.

We attended a meeting with BLM in October to discuss next steps for the trail and the outcome of that meeting is that in early 2024 an environmental assessment (EA) will be initiated that will include the trail segment that will help us link the Jack-Ash with the East Applegate Ridge Trail, a critical segment in the entire trail system. We look forward to completion of the EA and beginning work on this trail segment, hopefully in late 2024 or early 2025.

Meanwhile, enjoy hiking, riding or running on the trails and we hope to see many of you out there soon!

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