Tremendous excitement is the best way we can describe our reaction to the unbelievable progress made this week to open up the brand new Grub Gulch Trail. The Medford BLM arranged for a Jackson County Criminal Justice Crew to come out this week and clear the route for our new Grub Gulch Trail. This trail will connect the northern end of the Sterling Mine Ditch up to a huge network of gorgeous BLM gravel roads on Anderson Butte and soon we hope, to the first section of the Jack-Ash Trail. We had anticipated it would take the 8 person crew at least a week to clear the trail, especially because of the very thick brush on much of its length. This ace crew blew through the trail with their chainsaws in two days and started working on the first cut for the tread. As of this writing, the tread has been cut in for almost the entire trail. Absolutely amazing progress. You can see in the pictures some of the future Grub Gulch trail. SUTA volunteers showed up each day to work with the crew – something we all thoroughly enjoyed. We had to run to keep up with this crew. We are greatly indebted to Jose and his crew and hope to use them again on future SUTA projects.
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BLM also arranged the Northwest Youth Corps to work for 5 days on the Grub Gulch trail by, a highly trained group of college students who can now fine tune the tread that is laid out. While we are not certain of how the current government shutdown will impact that plan, we’re hoping work proceeds and the Northwest Youth Corp will show up Oct 17th. Our current plan is to have SUTA volunteers join this crew on Saturday Oct 19th to help.
The soon-to-open Grub Gulch trail will be a wonderful addition to the non-motorized trails offered in the region. It offers great views of Grayback and the Red Buttes, its an easy climb up or down due to careful lay-out by BLM staff and SUTA volunteers, and it has a mix of ecosystems to wander through.
Within the next few months we will have an official Grub Gulch trailhead complete with signs and a kiosk on BLM road 38-2-26 where one end of the Grub Gulch trail starts along the unimproved and gated BLM road 39-2-3. We will post directions and suggested options for various loops on our website once the trail is fully open. The serendipitous part of our plan to create the Grub Gulch trail is that it ends up directly across from the recently re-opened Hidden Creek Trail. This short gem of a trail – a one mile loop goes through old growth forest- is an interpretative trail BLM put in decades ago. SUTA will be incorporating it as part of our trail system and just published an article about this newly refurbished trail in the Jacksonville Review.
So now you may be wondering when will this new trail be open for business? Hikers/runners can probably start using it after October 22nd if all goes as planned unless we have lots of rain in which case it would be mud bath. Unfortunately, bicyclists and equestrians will have to wait until late next spring when the tread is compacted and dry. The tread is all dirt, no rocks so its very soft now and could be easily damaged. The forested section of the trail is on a steep side slope so we need the tread to be firmly packed before bicycles or horses can safely venture on it. But we want to encourage hikers and all of you long-distance runners to use it heavily this winter so we get it packed in.
One other note for everyone using the northern end of the Sterling Mine Ditch, please be aware that the ditch and parts of the new Grub Gulch trail travel very close to private property and people’s homes. To insure that SUTA maintains a good relationship with adjoining land owners, please stay on the trail and keep noise to a minimum when you are near people’s homes.
For those of you interested in exploring the network of roads on BLM accessed from our new Grub Gulch trail, we recommend getting a copy of the Medford BLM’s Ashland Resource District Map at the Interagency office. It will provide you information on all of the endless loops you can make once the Grub Gulch trail is officially opened.
We are extremely delighted at having this trail added to the system. We’ll keep you posted on its progress.
From the folks at SUTA