Dear Trail Enthusiasts,
It has been way too long since we sent out news of the trails – there has been too much going on! First, we have news about the Jack-Ash Trail. Second, we hope you have time to go out and enjoy the Sterling Mine Ditch trail this spring! Several new projects on the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail described below are complete just in time for you to enjoy them and the array of wildflowers beginning to bloom.
Jack-Ash Environmental Assessment to be released by BLM in April: Our big news is that the Medford BLM’s environmental assessment for the first phase of the Jack-Ash Trail is expected to be released for comment in April. We are delighted to see this trail project moving ahead and hope to begin construction in the fall or earlier, if possible. This phase of the Jack-Ash Trail will connect to both ends of the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail, creating a giant loop up and over Anderson Butte. When the EA is out for comment, we would greatly appreciate it if you would submit comments supporting our proposed trail. Here is a photo of one of many views just below Anderson Butte along the future Jack-Ash trail.
Lovely new interpretive sign installed on the trail south of the Armstrong Trailhead: For those of you who have wondered what the names of the mountains are that you see from parts of the ditch, Joe Ruskin, of Ruskin Metalcraft created a spectacular sign outlining and naming the mountains that you see while hiking south from Armstrong Trailhead. A group of volunteers installed this new sign in late January. We plan to have Joe create another one for another great view of mountains elsewhere on the trail.
New section of the Ditch is Re-opened north of Deming Trailhead: We are celebrating the re-opening of a new section of the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail just north of the Deming Trailhead. It’s a really lovely section to hike so we urge you to come check it out. If you hike north from the Deming Trailhead, the ditch eventually crosses an old logging road.
When this road was built decades ago it cut through the Sterling Mine Ditch twice, isolating a short section of the ditch. We have wanted to re-open this section for years, but we needed to install a bridge to provide a safe crossing of the intermittent Deming Creek. For those of you who have ventured north on the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail heading for Grub Gulch, this was the difficult-to-follow section; you had to follow the road downhill and then back uphill over a series of “tank traps” back to the easily missed connection to the ditch trail (we have also installed a sign).
At our February work party a hard-working group of volunteers, shown here and modeling our new SUTA hard hats, restored the tread and trimmed back shrubs and trees, transplanted rattlesnake orchids out of harm’s way, and created an access trail from the road up to the ditch.
Now you simply cross the road and get back on the ditch trail after just a few yards; it is obvious when you hike out from the Deming Trailhead (or follow the road from the Deming Horse Trailer parking area). We will be installing a sign but the access up to the ditch is obvious, as this photo to the left shows; you can see the road in the foreground that you will cross.
To top it off, our stellar volunteer Jim Reiland, designed, prepared and organized the materials, and managed the construction of two little bridges to cross a small drainage and Deming Creek. The photo above shows him and one of the great crew members from WorkSource Rogue Valley carrying in a large juniper beam. We were really fortunate to have the assistance of an energetic group of four young, strong crew members from the WorkSource Rogue Valley, led by Christie Lawson. They worked for two days, hauling materials, mixing concrete, building the bridge abutments and, ultimately, installing the bridges. Three other talented
volunteers, Spence Everson, Duane Mallams and John Galego helped with the bridge projects.
In addition to all of these new amenities, Zach Million, Outdoor Recreation Planner for the Ashland Resource Area at the Medford BLM, and others from the BLM, have cleared dozens of huge trees, manzanita, and more that were downed due to the high winds, snow and rain that we have all experienced (gratefully) this winter. We have also been fortunate to receive terrific trail maintenance help by the youth crews from WorkSource Rogue Valley on other parts of the trail, which has been a wonderful gift to our trail maintenance efforts. Last, but not least, SUTA volunteers have also been out trimming trails, clearing trees, and helping to keep the trails open for use at our monthly work parties.
We have two more work parties in April:
April 9th and April 30th
We would love to have you join us. It’s always a great group of people and we have fun while we work!
Enjoy the trails!
From the SUTA Board