Dear SUTA Trail Buffs,

It may be hot everywhere but SUTA has been working away behind the scenes and mostly off the trails.  Here’s a snapshot of what is going on for the Sterling Mine Ditch and the Jack-Ash Trail.

Progress on the new Armstrong Gulch and Grub Gulch Trails:  For those of you who did not make it out to the National Trails Day Event on Armstrong Gulch, we now have half of the two part access trail open.  As you drive up Armstrong Gulch the new trail head is the widened parking area just about a half mile from the turn onto the Armstrong Gulch road.  You can make a hard right turn and park up by the trail head where there are boulders blocking vehicles from having access to the trail.  At present, until we have some serious rains, the trail is only open for hikers.  Equestrians and bicyclists – the shoulders of the trail are still too soft to risk having anyone either hurt or damaging the trail.

On the opposite side of the road, the future access trail is up the road about 50 feet on the left.  Today, the Job Council and some of the trail crew from BLM started to cut this trail in.  We have three days of time from the Job Council so we are thrilled that a good start will be made in this new trail.  We’ll see if we have a trail party or something in a few months to finish this off – stay tuned.

Grub Gulch Trail:  For those of you wondering, the Grub Gulch trail will allow you to go to the northern end of the Sterling Mine Ditch trail and up the side of a ridge to connect up to a huge network of BLM roads (and the future Jack-Ash trail) on Anderson Butte. We had hoped to get the Grub Gulch trail at least cleared in the early part of the summer but various plans for different crews fell through.   With the full force of fire season upon us, nothing will be done on the trail now due to the high risk of fire.  However, we hope to put out a request for proposal over the next month or so to get a crew in to clear it and cut the trail in this fall and winter.

Enhancements to the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail:  Thanks to a generous grant from REI, we will be building kiosks for all of our trail heads and installing them during the fall/winter.  These trail heads will display a map and other useful trail information.  We’re excited to see those go up as they will help everyone take advantage of the trail more fully.  In addition to the kiosks, we are working on a list of new signs that will help people find the trail and identify turn at key spots.  We hope to be putting these in place this fall.  The Board is also working on the development of historical and natural history information that will be provided to users in some format – signs, brochures, posted on the kiosks.  The details are being worked out during the summer.

Oregon Parks and Recreation Trails Committee will be touring the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail on Thursday August 8th.  As you may recall, we applied to have the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail named a state scenic trail.  The Committee that decides what trails qualify will be checking out the trail and hearing SUTA’s presentation about what are plans are on August 9th.  We’re hoping we make the grade!

Volunteer Opportunities:

SUTA has many ways you can make a difference in the success of our trail system.  You usually hear about trail work parties but there is much more that needs to be done.  If you would be interested in helping with any of the following efforts, we would love your help.  It’s a great way to use your skills, learn new ones, meet fun people and make a tangible difference in the trails you all love.  And if you have something you would like to do that’s not on this list, be sure to contact us.  Email:

Writers Are you a closest author that would love to write swashbuckling tales about your experiences on the Sterling Mine Ditch or a thoughtful piece about the ecosystem along the trail, the beauty of the woods or anything else that suits your fancy?  If so, let us know.  We always have a need for people who would like to contribute through writing.

Event Help:  SUTA is involved in numerous events in the course of the year ranging from trail work parties, organized hikes to manning a table at the farmer’s markets around the area.  If you want a chance to meet the community around you, volunteer to help us for a couple of hours during one of these events.  Its always great fun and a chance to hang out with your friends and neighbors.

Intrepid Explorers:  As we hone in on the precise route of the Jack-Ash, we need people to go out and hike the proposed Jack-Ash route over the next couple of months to help us zero in on the best possible route.  If you love to bushwhack and hike, this may be your opportunity to explore the ridge line from Jacksonville to Wagner Butte.

Calling Anyone With Surveying Skills:  We are in the process of writing up easements to cross private property.  Part of the easement process requires a description of the actual easement.  If you are a surveyor or know of anyone who is, we would love some help.  The pay is pathetic but the rewards will be enormous!

Enjoy the summer – hope to see you out on the trails.

Hope Robertson



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