Distance: We walked the Ziglar trail and part of the Gold Gulch trail, which was about a mile and a half. One trail loop is four miles long, so choose your own adventure!
I went early this morning while doing childcare in hopes of tiring him out. (It didn’t work until very late in the afternoon, when I didn’t want him to take a nap of course!) He asked me if anyone else was on the trail, to which I replied. “I don’t think so. There weren’t many cars and I don’t think many people walk at 8:30 on a Friday morning.” I was quickly proven wrong as we were greeted by runners, hikers, and even dogs throughout our entire walk.
I enjoy Jacksonville as a whole. You’ve read about some of my adventures there, such as my Chinese New Year experiences. But I have yet to conquer the entire network of trails that lie just behind the renowned Britt Gardens. Since six-year-olds tire fairly quickly when you don’t have enough snacks to bribe them to go further, I didn’t accomplish this today, either. I have a feeling that you will hear more about the specific trails that are part of the Britt Woods as I make return trips until all of them have been trod by my own two feet!
-At most of the trail entrances, there is an informational board featuring flowers and plants you might see along the way. This is a good time of year to try to find some of them.
-For optimal parking, go to the city parking lot next to the library. You only have to cross the street to get to the Britt Gardens and the trail heads. Most trail heads also have small dirt parking lots as well.
-Make sure to bring water. We found several drinking fountains, but none of them were working. (Hopefully they just forgot to turn them on after the winter!)
-Bring two quarters so that you can get a trail map or an interpretive trail brochure.
Location: Ashland, Oregon… only available on the first Friday of the month!
Length: Galleries are available all around Ashland. However, most are located close to each other on the main street of downtown, which is what I chose to stick to.
I doubled up on walks last Friday. After dropping off the kid I explored Hawthorne Park with, I headed south to Ashland. Although I started this stroll solo, I soon found myself among a sea of humanity. Many other participants had come from all over the place to explore the unique art of Ashland. Although some of the art was from faraway artists, many galleries allowed several artists to come stand next to their work and answer questions. Musicians lined the streets and occasionally inside galleries to provide a variety of eclectic music. It was a fun mix of people.
Downtown Ashland bustles with art galleries and restaurants. When I arrived around 5:30, I figured I’d browse a few of the galleries, then choose a restaurant to dine at before exploring more art. After a few galleries, I realized that restaurants would be unnecessary tonight! Most of the galleries served cheese, fruit, chocolate, cookies, or other snacks, as well as beverages (both wine and kid-friendly).
Despite living close to Ashland for the majority of my life, I’ve only been to the First Friday Art Walk one other time. During my freshman year of college, my humanities teacher made it a requirement that we all attend one night. I’ve wanted to go back since, but either forget or get too busy by the time the first Friday of the month rolls around. I’m glad I made it a priority for April!
-Ashland hosts an art walk the first Friday of every month from 5-8pm. Each month is a little different in which galleries are open and what art is displayed (and what refreshments are served!), so your experience is guaranteed to be unique!
-Can’t make it to the art walk? Ashland still has lots of public art displayed 24/7, and numerous galleries that are open every day.
-You can enjoy other shops and services between galleries. Maybe even enjoy performing arts in the form of a Shakespeare play (I at least went to the gift shop). I also took a quick walk at dusk through Lithia Park, since that’s where I parked my car.
-I realized that my favorite type of art is functional art. While there is value to a piece that only serves the purpose of decorating a wall, I would rather have art that can tell time, help me in the kitchen, or serve as furniture. Last week I discovered a piece of art that I’ve found extremely functional, and I got it before I even went to Ashland! Strawesome is an artistic company that makes decorative glass straws. I got one that I’ve used just to dress up my drinking glass, as well as protect my teeth. (Acid and sugar in beverages can cause tooth decay. Because I often drink ACV water, using this straw is promoting my holistic health while also promoting my enamel health!) Because Strawesome straws are reusable and not made of plastic, they help the environment’s health, too! An especially great idea since Earth Day is coming up. Carry one of these awesome straws around as you sip and stroll through eccentric Ashland’s art galleries, and you’re sure to get some compliments!
Strawesome provided me with a glass straw so that I could review it. No other compensation was made. Thanks!
Distance: The entire park is five acres, and you can choose however much of the path (or off-path area) you want to walk on. There are a few steps on an optional part of the pathway, but other than that, this is a very flat, very easy walk that anyone can participate in.
Today was a very rainy morning. I had lagged behind on walking this week, and I knew that the hike I wanted to take would be incredibly muddy. I thought about skipping a walk entirely this week and just posting a walk I took previously. But then while I was out driving, I found myself headed toward my first-ever hometown of Rogue River, Oregon. I don’t remember living there because I moved to California before my first birthday, but I remember visiting as an older child.
When I went to the Wimer Covered Bridge a few weeks ago, I passed a church on the drive there. On the drive back, I recognized tennis courts and a bridge behind the church building. I immediately pulled into the parking lot (which turns out is shared by the church and the city park) and walked down memory lane… but only in my mind. I was pressed for time, and had a kid sleeping in the backseat who couldn’t be woken up even for something as fun as a park.
When I realized I was headed to Rogue River on this rainy morning but didn’t know what I was going to do once I got there, I decided to enjoy walking through this park despite the weather. Because of the downpour, I was the only one there. Everyone else sure missed out!
Even though I remember going to this park a few times many years ago, I only remembered the sports courts, the footbridge, and the picnic tables near a playground. Palmerton Park is actually best known for being an arboretum. But it turns out I didn’t start at Palmerton Park. I had parked my car at the smaller adjacent Anna Classick Bicentennial Park, which includes a variety of sports courts such as tennis and basketball. I then headed across the Skevington Bridge.
I guess I have a thing for walking across previously-collapsed bridges. The Skevington Bridge was washed away twenty years ago during a flood, but then rebuilt in 2002. It was one of those suspension bridges where you could feel the bridge move with each step you took. It crossed Evans Creek, as well as a foliage green pond, before allowing me to arrive and continue my walk in Palmerton Park.
Because of the rain, I mostly stayed on the path, though I occasionally adventured into the wet grass to get a better look at a unique tree or to take advantage of a photo opp. (Because this was a spontaneous trip, I had left my waterproof camera at home and instead had to protect my phone against the elements while trying to capture pictures!) I walked along a stony path area with a fountain feature. Despite all the extra water it was receiving, it only provided a trickle of a waterfall. I then went around the playground and to the official front of Palmerton Park. Since I had come in from the back way, I had missed out on a big informational sign showing how Palmerton features dozens of different trees from all around the world. There was a coastal redwood, a monkey puzzle tree, and other unique plants. I think my favorites were the trees that were currently in bloom. It was evidence that it is indeed spring!
-Since this is in Oregon, some sort of rain protection is recommended. Most locals will tell you that we don’t like to use umbrellas. But a raincoat is subtle enough that you can still blend in.
-Look for inspiration around the park. I found one unusually unique inspirational quote engraved on a sign. (I’m not sure why it was there, but it did make me ponder for awhile!) And of course be inspired by the nature itself.
-If you want to enter the way I did, go down Pine Street and turn in when you see Rogue Valley Community Church. However, the official entrance is on Evans Creek Road.
Distance: Who knows?! I didn’t think to take a pedometer with me. We walked wherever we felt like at the time, did some backtracking, and stopped at the playground, the Japanese gardens, the duck ponds, and a picnic table for lunch. About three hours total was spent here.
Ah, Lithia Park. As a child, this 93-acre locale was almost as amazing as Disneyland, except it was free and not as far away. I loved going here with my parents, toting our stale bread and crusts so that we could feed the ducks and geese. While feeding the wildlife is no longer allowed, I decided to attempt passing the magic of this place on to the next generation anyway. It turned out to be a fun babysitting experience. He still appreciated seeing the fowl without breadcrumbs. He also got to enjoy an updated playground and Japanese garden. (He was really interested in bamboo that day!)
I’ve never not seen anyone at Lithia Park. It’s an eclectic bunch. From business professionals on lunch break, to parents running the energy out of their kids, to hippies trying to make a statement about something rather, people watching is definitely a must-do in Lithia Park, and Ashland in general. However, not many people stray from the main (paved) path at Lithia park. There’s plenty more to see off the beaten path.
The hippie city of Ashland, Oregon boasts the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Southern Oregon University, access to the Pacific Crest Trail, and a host of prominent local shops, but Lithia Park will always be my favorite out of all these things to do.
I like how you can choose how challenging you want your trip to Lithia Park to be. If you want to park right next to the playground, cross the bridge, and sit down for lunch, that can be a full experience itself. You could also go up to the miles of hiking trails, come back down to the upper duck pond, pass the sports courts, head over to the Japanese garden, go over to the fountain, back down to the stage, and then make your way past the playground and lower duck pond before stopping to refresh on the free Lithia water. (Try it; it’s delicious… wink wink.)
-Seriously, try that Lithia water! It’s sure to be an experience you’ll never forget!
-If you can’t find parking downtown, keep driving up the side of the park until there are fewer cars. You can park longer in this area, anyway.
-Don’t be afraid of the locals! The population may appear crazy if you aren’t used to it, but they mean no harm and the unique culture is what makes Ashland a great place to visit.
Location: Gold Beach, Oregon is on the Southern Oregon Pacific Coastline.
Length: We did four miles on our recent trip. You can make it however long or short you’d like.
Gold Beach sponsors a treasure hunt from February thru April, a time that isn’t very well known to head to the beach. So most of the other people you’ll see are probably also there to find the coveted glass floats, but there are still fewer people overall than you’d find on a summer vacation day.
I participated in the Gold Beach Treasure Hunt for glass floats last year for the first time. I took a friend with me. This year, she and I continued the tradition, and we brought another friend along for her first time.
I have to start out by saying I was disappointed in not finding a glass float on this trip. Both my friend and I each managed to get one last year, and we passed by plenty of others in order to honor the “one float per person per month” rule. We searched even harder this year, yet not one of us found a float. We didn’t come across anyone who found a float, either.
At the same time, this only makes me more motivated to make a second trip back to Gold Beach soon. If I don’t find a float a second time, I may then get frustrated, but part of this activity is remembering that the joy is in the journey. We didn’t find what we came for, but we found so much more. We reunited as friends after a long time of not seeing each other, and we had adventures along the coast.
We did decide to walk back to the car by going through the downtown street instead of going down the beach again, which allowed us to participate in one of the shop’s tourist activities. But wherever you are glass floats, we’re coming for you!
-Stop at the Visitor Center before you start looking. They’ll let you know where to look, which includes looking in the grass instead of the sand.
-I’ve forgotten this the past two trips, but I want to be intentional in the future: bring a bag that you can put trash in! I’d especially like to see an incentive from the Visitor Center that if you don’t find a float, they’ll still give you one if you pick up a grocery sack’s worth of trash. Hopefully they or other beaches will consider something like this in the future.
-Play by the rules. I think one of the reasons none of us could find a treasure was due to foul play by visitors before us.
-The treasure hunt is on every day in February, March, and April each year. Of course, you can always walk this beach any day of the year.
-Be prepared to get a little wet. There are some streams on the beach that don’t have an easy way to cross.
The trails along Roxy Ann Peak are open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. Some local avid runners can be found running loops around the peak in any weather. It’s also a good workout for cyclists, considering the climb in terrain. But the majority of people are hikers like I was. While I could occasionally get a moment alone, on the main trail I could expect a fellow hiker to walk around the bend at any given moment.
I’ve only ever walked Roxy Ann alone. Okay, that’s not entirely true, since I have faded memories of my family going there when I was very young. But in the couple of times I’ve walked this in my adulthood, I’ve always felt safe going solo.
Roxy Ann has a special meaning to me this year. It was my first walk of 2017. I was a bit pressed for time on New Year’s Day, so I didn’t have time to make it to the summit. Seven weeks later, I finally made it to the top.
Besides being a good workout, Roxy Ann Peak is ideal for its stunning views overlooking the Southern Oregon city. As the crowning feature of Medford’s largest city park, Roxy Ann gives you a birds-eye view of what some travelers may just see as a town for vineyards, rivers, and access to Crater Lake National Park.
I especially like that Roxy Ann is walkable year-round. It was snowing fairly heavily on January 1st, and yet I was not the only one who thought it was a perfect day to go for a hike. While the rain can wash out some of the side trails, the main path is well-maintained since it doubles as a service road for employees who need to work on the mountaintop antenna.
Roxy Ann Peak definitely got my blood pumping, but it did so in such a fun way it didn’t feel too much like a workout. I think many people can enjoy this walk, including families and individuals, active and non-athletic alike. If nothing else, go for the views.
-Drive up the gravel road as far as you’re allowed. You’ll find a closed yellow gate and probably several parked cars where you’ll have to stop, as only pedestrians are allowed beyond that point. But driving to the gate is a nice head start.
-There are several side trails you can take, but since they are always more muddy and eroded than the main trail, I have not walked any of these.
-You’ll eventually walk to a fork in the road. You can choose to go either way, as this is the beginning of the loop around the mountain.
-Keep a lookout for the trail to the summit. It’s not clearly marked. After a steep hike, you’ll get to the antennas that top the peak.
-Don’t worry if you don’t have the energy to hike to the summit. You can actually get better views of the city below along the main trail anyway.
-Make sure to bring water! You can also carry a meal as there are a few areas for picnicking.
Location: Klamath, California- right on Highway 101 in the heart of the Redwood forest
Length: According to the official Trees of Mystery information, the trail itself is 8/10ths of a mile. This does not include the side trail options, so all together it was probably well over a mile of walking over hilly terrain.
This past weekend was my first time walking through the Trees of Mystery. But I did take a pit stop at its parking lot last summer to see the famous Paul Bunyan statue. It was definitely more populated in the summer! Fortunately, the Trees of Mystery gains enough foot traffic to justify being open year-round.
This trip was actually an overdue Christmas gift to my entire family, so my parents and sister were along for the walk. We passed by several other groups also walking the trail, but much of the time we got to enjoy the solitude around some interesting natural features.
I appreciate walking attractions. With such a famous walking attraction just a couple hours from my home, my only wish with this experience is that I made it here sooner. I think the admission fee to the trail is what has hindered me for so long.
Before we entered, we enjoyed the features located right in the parking lot. There’s a fun little area in front of the two giant statues depicting the mythical logger Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.
After we passed the ticket booth, we were immediately in the Kingdom of Trees. There were a lot of unique trees, both redwood and otherwise, that you can’t see anywhere else. We crawled through one of the trees and took photos with most of them. I especially liked the Cathedral Tree, which was a cluster of trees that grew together and created a backdrop perfect for a small wedding ceremony or Easter service.
The Forest Experience Trail is the most educational part of the walk. Scattered throughout this portion are signs that inform visitors the unique facts about the area’s trees.
Next up was a trail that didn’t require walking- the SkyTrail! The gondola car on this ride comfortably seated all four of us with room to spare. Out the windows, we could see the giant trees of the area pass below us. After several minutes of enjoyment, we got to the top. There is a lookout deck where we looked at the surrounding area, even all the way out to the ocean! We could have taken the strenuous Wilderness Trail back down, but we decided to double the fun by riding the SkyTrail back.
After photographing a few more unique trees, we entered the Trail of Tall Tales. This part of the forest was filled with woodcarvings about Paul Bunyan and other like characters. It was an unique, artsy way to end the walk on an upbeat note.
-Take time to enjoy the stroll. It should take about two hours if you stop to enjoy everything.
-While this is a slightly tiresome walk, the Trees of Mystery staff is willing to give rides to those who cannot physically walk the trail. This way, they can at least enjoy the SkyTrail.
-Many people forget to stop at the last exhibit of the trail. The End of the Trail Museum just past the exit is filled with lots of native artifacts from the area. Because it’s located inside the gift shop building, it’s free for anyone to visit, even if you didn’t walk the trail.
-Picnic tables are scattered throughout the trail, especially near the SkyTrail. Because we didn’t want to carry our lunch with us, we ate after we walked. There is a picnic area open to all next to the parking lot.
-If you drive five miles south into Klamath, you’ll start seeing signs for the Tour Thru Tree. This is one of three redwood trees that you can drive through. Because I drove my car through the other two trees while road tripping this summer, I wanted to take advantage of the proximity to drive through this one as well. For $5, it’s a great photo opp!