Tin Pan Mountain

A few pictures from our hike at the Mountain of the Rogue BLM recreation area near Rogue River last week. This is a new trail system, built in 2015; it’s primarily designed for mountain bikes, but hikers can use a few of the trails. The main trail goes all the way to the summit of Tin Pan Peak – a 1300′ elevation gain from the trailhead in a little under four miles. We’re saving that for another day. Today we were just checking out the area, so we stopped at about 850′ above the trailhead, at the intersection of the Rat Pack and Breakdown trails, about 2.5 miles in. No flowers (I understand there are plenty in the spring). There was some nice color from some of the young oaks, and we saw several woodrat nests.  Nothing much else to say: enjoy the pics (and scroll to the bottom for a link to something else new).

New Entry in Galleries: Oh the Places I’ve Been!

Canada’s Pukaskwa National Park, on the north shore of Lake Superior, is one of the most spectacular waterscapes in North America. Check it out by clicking on the image below.

Fall in Southern Oregon, Part 2: Along the Upper Rogue River

at Woodruff Bridge.

Oregon’s forests may be mostly conifers, which stay green all year, but that doesn’t mean they’re entirely devoid of color. There are hardwoods in the understory, and they change into fall dress that’s every bit as bright and cheery as that worn by their siblings in the forests of New England; it’s just that there are far fewer of them, and they are usually much smaller. So you have to seek them out.

In Southern Oregon, the best place to find native fall color is along the upper Rogue River, in the Cascade Mountains west of Crater Lake. The color there is provided mostly by three species: bright red by vine maple, maroon by dogwood, and yellow by bigleaf maple. Vine maple is a forest-edge species, and it likes large linear openings such as those provided by rivers and highways; bigleaf maple is riparian, and is largely limited to stream bottoms. Dogwood is a shade-lover, and may be found just about anywhere where there are enough larger trees to protect it. Usually these trees are loners, providing splashes of color here and there; but occasionally they bunch up, forming displays that are as fine as anything that has been imported by homesick New Englanders into our city parks.

The morning of October 22 was teetering on the edge of rain, and the air was hazy. That was all predicted to go away by afternoon, so we set out anyway. We stopped for breakfast – with fresh-squeezed orange juice – at a lovely little restaurant in Eagle Point called Crackin’ and Stackin’, and headed upriver. The air was still grey at Casey State Park, and the colors were muted.

The Rogue River at Casey State Park.

At the top of the hill above Lost Creek Reservoir we turned onto Mill Creek Drive and took it into Prospect; up there, what had been overcast lower down was mist, dancing around the trees, and things began to get interesting.

Along Mill Creek Drive near Prospect.
Avenue of the Giant Boulders from the Mill Creek Drive bridge.

The day’s goal was Woodruff Bridge, down a side road off of highway 62 a little more than halfway between Prospect and Union Creek. Colors are often good there, but this year they were a bit of a disappointment, so we didn’t spend long.

The Rogue River, looking upstream from Woodruff Bridge.

There is a back road down the west side of the Rogue in this area, to a bridge lower on the river; the road and the bridge bear the unimaginative but apt names of River Road and River Bridge. The road was rough, with occasional potholes full of muddy water, but the Bolt handled it comfortably, and we were soon crossing the river again and parking at the River Bridge Campground for another roam along the river – nice mists, and interesting geology, but still not much color. The only really good color show of the day to that point was partway along the road back out to 62 from River Bridge. But that was about to change.

Looking downstream from directly beneath River Bridge.
Forest road color, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
The Bolt in the parking lot for Pearsony Falls.

Back in Prospect, we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to stop at the Pearsony Falls trail, part of the Prospect State Scenic Area. This short trail – barely half a mile long – is one of our favorites, and this was a great day to be there. The mists were beginning to burn off, and the woods were full of color. The area around Pearsony Falls has the feel of a rain forest, with much moss and sword fern; the falls themselves, on Mill Creek, are only about 15 feet high but are about as lovely as any waterfall I know of anywhere.

Pearsony Falls.

We walked on down to the river, reaching it just as the sun broke out. Sometimes, you just have to have faith that things will eventually come out right.

Trail between Pearsony Falls and the Rogue River.
The Rogue River at the bottom of the Avenue of the Giant Boulders.

Cottonwood at Stewart State Park on Lost Creek Reservoir, on the way home.

Fall in Southern Oregon, Part One: Lithia Park

Along Winburn Way near the bandshell. At the top of this post: bigleaf maple leaf on the bottom of Ashland Creek.

I’ve neglected this blog for several weeks while I completed a novel. Melody and I have not neglected our outings, however. This is the first of three blog posts designed to catch you up, to be published over the next three days.

The subject this time is Ashland (Oregon)’s Lithia Park, which we visited on October 14, seeking fall color. Oregon’s forest trees are largely conifers, which don’t change color, so the seasonal color changes here are mostly found in street trees and city parks. Lithia Park is among the best of these, here or anywhere else: it was named one of America’s ten best public spaces by the American Planning Association in 2014. Its 93 acres, with landscaping designed by John McLaren – who also designed Golden Gate Park in San Francisco – offer delights any time of year, but particularly when the leaves are changing. The park is only 15 miles from our home, which barely makes a dent in the Bolt’s capacities, so you’ll find no electric-car stories here: just pictures. Enjoy this small bit of autumn in southern Oregon.

Wading pool in Ashland Creek, by the playground.
Upper duck pond.
Alders along Ashland Creek.
Reflections in the upper duck pond.
In the Japanese Garden.

Tomorrow we’ll look at some of our area’s natural fall color, along the upper Rogue River in the Cascade Mountains.