Ashland offers an incredible opportunity for trail running, hiking and biking. I’ve been running and hiking the trails in Ashland for over twenty years and I still love the fact I can run from my house and be on a trail within minutes. I run almost every day and these trails don’t ever get boring to me. The trails offer beautiful views, shady forest, bubbling creeks, and wildlife right within city limits of Ashland. A few of what I believe to be the best trails in Ashland are (1) Lithia Park, (2) Oredson-Todd Woods and the White Rabbit Trail, (3.) Hald Strawberry Park. ( 4) Talent Irrigation Ditch from Park Street to Elkader Street (5.) BTI Trail and Alice in Wonderland.
I have given only the descriptions of the trails. I do not give any specifics about mileage or exact trails names and directions so definitely get a map. There are several at The Northwest Nature Shop and I recommend stopping by to take a look and ask any of the staff about where to go hiking in and around Ashland. You will be able to go on these trails year-round but keep in mind it gets very hot in the summer and can be cold and snowy and slippery in the winter. Of course, use common sense, take water, dress for the weather, tell someone where you are going, etc.
1. Lithia Park
Ask any local where to go hiking in town, and they will most likely say Lithia Park. It is beautiful any time of the year, it is located right in the heart of downtown Ashland, and the main trail follows the bubbling, picturesque Ashland Creek. I like to start at the plaza and take the paved trail past the duck pond, then the playground and soon after it turns to dirt and I stay on that trail which as you go up, has the creek on the right. At one point towards the upper part of the park, the trail either goes over a bridge across the creek or a smaller trail goes steep up to the left. Take this left, and after a very steep initial climb, the trail t’s into another and at that point go to the right and it will either take you to the loop road (if you go up the stairs) or to a water holding tank and then the reservoir (which is a good swimming hole) if you stay to the right. At the reservoir I join the road and go around back into town.
2. Oredson-Todd Woods/White Rabbit Trail
There are several places to access these trails. The most straightforward is off Greenmeadows Way. Go south on Siskiyou, turn right on Tolman, then right on Greenmeadows Way. Turn left on Lupine and there is parking area on the right. Park and follow the signs. It is thickly forested with a canyon and small creek running through the canyon. You can either do a loop or connect to Siskiyou Mountain Park which will take you on White Rabbit Trail up, up and up to boulders and beautiful views of the Rogue Valley. Either turn around or keep going which will eventually lead to Ashland Loop Road and the Caterpillar trail if you want to go up even more or down to Alice in Wonderland and then the BTI. You can also access these trails from Park Street. Park Street is just about the steepest city street there is. Go to almost the top of it, (if you are driving, park along Tamarack Road and then go up from there). Stay to the left, to keep from going on anyone’s driveway. The road turns to dirt, go by a gate that prevents vehicle traffic and then you’ll soon see signs for either Oredson-Todd Woods or White Rabbit.
3. Hald-Strawberry Park
This is another trail accessible from downtown. If you want to avoid the steep climb up city streets you can drive up Church St turn right on Scenic and then left on Grandview. The parking area is up Grandview on the left. The parking area is accessed by the driveway of a brick East coast looking house that is visible from the road. If you have followed the road where it takes a sharp left you have gone too far. The trail starts along the Talent Irrigation Ditch (TID, or the ‘ditch’ as most locals call it.) Stay on the ditch and go a mile or two and then turn around and this alone is quite nice, but you don’t get into the Strawberry-Hald Park. To access the park, turn up onto the smaller trail that goes to the right off the ditch. These trails switchback up to a beautiful lookout. There is even a bench and as a family we like to go up there and the kids run around and my husband and I just sit on the bench and enjoy the views. You can continue on from here (or turn around.) If you choose to continue, follow the trail, cross over Strawberry Lane and then you can connect to a whole other trail system, Hitt Road. When I am running from town though I just go up Hitt road a ¼ mile up, before the water tower there is a little trail off to the right, Birdsong Trail. That will take you back down to Birdsong Lane and then Strawberry Lane (which you can take all the way down and it ends right at Lithia Park.) If you don’t want to run down on all that pavement though you can catch the Hald -Strawberry park trail again and it will bring you back to the ditch.
4. TID-Park Street
When I finally got permission to go running by myself at age 13, this is where I went. This is a very popular spot for walking, jogging, and taking the dog out. It is a rarity in Ashland because it offers a two mile or so, one way FLAT trail. Of course you have to climb up to get to it but once you are on it, it really is flat. You can access it by going up S. Mountain Ave then left on Prospect then right on Elkader. Elkader turns to dirt and soon after there is a private drive that goes off to the right, stay to the left and wind around, when it turns pavement go right, it will soon turn dirt again and go through a thickly forested area, come out to a paved road and then after a block or so you will see the “ditch.” The only time this isn’t a good place to go is after a really heavy rainstorm when it gets very muddy. Stay on the ditch and follow it to the end. It used to go right into Oredson-Todd woods which was a great linkage of trails but one unhappy landowner blocked the access to everyone (with major amounts of barbed-wire) so now if you want to get to Oredson-Todd woods you have to go up Park Street. Otherwise you can just do an out and back on the ditch.
Depending on how far you want to run or walk you can either start from downtown and go all the way through Lithia Park and after the reservoir, connect to this trail. Or park above the reservoir and walk to a gate road and go up the dirt road and ¼ mile up (or less) there is Wildfire Ecology Trail to the right. Go right here and then it gets really steep but soon levels out. Soon there is a trail to the left, going up. By continuing straight it stays flat and goes just ½ mile or so until it meets up with the Reeder Reservoir access road (which is closed to public use.) At the road I just turn around and go back on the trail. If you want more, go up where the trail forks and a very steep trail winds up and up and up until it gets to a ridge and hooks up with Alice in Wonderland Trail. The city of Ashland is on the left and the watershed on the right. Continuing along this trail eventually takes you to Ashland Loop Road and the parking area for the upper part of the White Rabbit Trail. You could do a major loop by then taking White Rabbit Trail down all the way to Park Street and then Siskiyou and then back into downtown.
Enjoy the trails. Stop by the Northwest Nature Shop for more detailed information on where to go hiking or for information about additional trails in Southern Oregon.