We’re midway through 2023 and have some exciting trail news to share about the Jack-Ash and Sterling Mine Ditch Trails!
WEED TRIMMERS RULE!
First, both trails are in great condition, thanks to lots of work by volunteers and our BLM partners. It’s great to see so many hikers, runners, mountain bikers, and equestrians on the trails! A small but dedicated crew just completed string-trimming all of the trails on June 14th. This is the 4th year we’ve been able to do this and it really shows with the tall grasses knocked down and encroaching brush pushed back.
Next on the list is completing installation of kiosks and parking area improvements at the Anderson Ridge, Greenstone, and Griffin Gap Trailheads on the Jack-Ash Trail. This will be done using funds from our Title II grant for trail maintenance and improvements. The kiosks have been provided by BLM. We are anticipating completing this work by mid-late summer. You’ll be able to get trail information that will be posted on the kiosks, and the trailhead parking areas will be expanded and better defined with some gravel and boulders placed around them.
We weren’t able to continue construction of the Jack-Ash Phase II trail segments during this past season due to a lack of funding. Good news is that our efforts to obtain additional grant funding have been successful with award of a Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. The RTP grant will fund construction of 5 additional miles of trails beginning in October or November after fire season has ended. We’re excited that we’ll be able to complete the new loop trail 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. Stay tuned for updates as we move into fall.
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.
NEW WOLF GAP VIEWPOINT IS POPULAR!
The first mile of the approved Phase II trail segments that was completed in May 2022 has become one of the most popular routes for hikers! This trail currently ends at a spectacular overlook with 360° views to the Siskiyou Crest, Red Buttes, Applegate and Little Applegate Valleys, Wagner Butte, and Anderson Ridge. Because part of the trail is on a very steep slope, it is only open to foot traffic for safety reasons. If you need directions to the Wolf Gap trailhead, driving directions are available on our website (www.sutaoregon.org).
WE CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU!
We had several work parties during the past season and were happy to have many returning volunteers as well as lots of newcomers. We’ll plan to continue monthly work parties during this coming fall and winter so look for dates to be posted on our website in the fall.
In addition to work parties, we 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 them come down across the trail after stormy and windy days. Report downed trees by emailing us at email@example.com.
We have open board member positions and 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!
A “SIGNATURE TRAIL” IN OUR BACKYARDS!
A big and unexpected development is that the combined Jack-Ash Trail and Applegate Ridge Trails have been designated as a “Signature Trail” by the Oregon Trails Coalition. As described on the Signature Trails website, the Oregon Signature Trails Inventory Report identifiesfifteen long-distance trails ripe for investment to provide world class experiences in Oregon. Signature trails distill the iconic beauty of Oregon into unforgettable, seamless experiences. Investing in signature trails will elevate pride and prosperity for communities across the state, providing amazing experiences for Oregonians in their own backyards. More information is available at the Signature Trails link https://www.oregontrailscoalition.org/signature-trails.
The combined Jack-Ash/Applegate Ridge Trails will ultimately connect the Pacific Crest Trail with Ashland, Jacksonville, and Grants Pass with approximately 90 miles of trails! While much of these trails are still in the conceptual or planning phases, this designation will help both SUTA and the Applegate Trails Association (ATA) with promoting the trails and with moving forward with the 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 (RTCA) program operated under the National Park Service. The technical assistance will help 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.
NAME THE TRAIL CONTEST – at SISKIYOU CREST FESTIVAL!
One of the first things on the list for the Signature Trail is to name it (the Jack-Ash and Applegate Ridge Trails will still exist for those segments, but a name for the entire 90 miles of trails is in order). So – SUTA and ATA are going to be sponsoring a trail naming contest to be launched at the Siskiyou Crest Festival at Pacifica in Williams on July 15-16 (Festival – Siskiyou Crest Coalition). We will have a table there with more information and maps so we invite you to come by and visit us and enjoy the rest of the activities and displays at the festival. We’ll also send out more information about this in the next few weeks. Our SUTA/ATA display/info table will be there all day on both days, so if you can come for a couple of hours to give our other staffers a break, please do! Please contact us at email@example.com if you can help us out.
Meanwhile, enjoy hiking, riding or running on the trails and we hope to see many of you out there soon!