By Joy Rogalla, Siskiyou Upland Trails Association as published in the printed copy of the October 2013 Jacksonville Review
The Hidden Creek Trail lived up to its name for the past decade or more, overgrown and mostly forgotten, until this summer when the Medford District BLM cleared the brush and fallen trees that obscured it. This short loop trail was built as an interpretive trail along a small creek on the north slope of Anderson Butte, south of Jacksonville. By happy coincidence, the Hidden Creek trailhead is directly across the road from the Grub Gulch trailhead that the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association (SUTA) will be establishing for the northern end of the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail this fall. SUTA plans to ‘adopt’ this lovely trail and help keep it open. In the longer term, SUTA will work to incorporate it into the Jack-Ash trail along the ridges connecting Jacksonville and Ashland. For more information about upcoming SUTA activities and events, visit www.sutaoregon.org.
The Hidden Creek Trail offers a beautiful and enchanting hike in the forest, and a chance to visit an old-growth grove in our backyard. The trail follows the creek up from the trailhead, crosses, and returns along the other side for a total distance of about a mile. It climbs gradually for a 200-300 foot elevation gain over a half mile, an easy to moderate hike. The northern exposure means that the forest feels cool even on a hot day, with lush foliage and old-growth cedars, Douglas Firs, and Ponderosa Pines. There are Big Leaf Maples and other understory deciduous trees and shrubs along the creek. Our first visit to explore the trail had our group of hikers straining our necks to see the tops of these huge old trees. We were curious about the size of one of the largest cedars and tried to measure it. Three people holding hands couldn’t reach around it, so we estimated it’s about 20 feet in circumference. The big trees all have fire scars, testament to their resilience and ability to survive wildfires, and there is one large hollowed out burned snag that looks almost like a cave. Even at the end of a dry summer, a trickle of water is running in the stream, so the springtime flows should be worth seeing, not to mention the wildflowers. We saw several Chickarees (Douglas Squirrels), a chipmunk, and lots of birds. There are remnants of the posts that held the interpretive signs, and we hope to work with the BLM to replace those and offer the interpretive materials again. This little gem of a trail is well worth the trip, and may become one of your favorite hikes –check it out this fall when the leaves are showing their colors!
The Hidden Creek Trailhead is on BLM Road 38-2-26 on Anderson Butte. To get there from the Rogue Valley side, follow Anderson Butte Road from Griffin Creek Road 4.1 miles. Turn right onto BLM road 38-2-26 and continue 3.2 miles to the trailhead on your left. From the Applegate Valley side, take Armstrong-Deming Road near the 9 mile mark on Sterling Creek Road. Turn left at the first ‘Y’ and go 7 miles, turning hard left onto BLM Road 38-2-26; continue 2.7 miles to the trailhead. A small marker at the trail entrance is across from BLM Road 39-2-3.