The BIG news is that over the next several weeks the BLM will be sending crews out to repair and open up sections of the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail that have not been open for public use.  Once we know where this work is going to take place we will post a map showing what is happening.  This is extremely exciting news.  As part of this effort we hope many of you will be able to come out and be trained by these great trail crews on how to do tread work and other trail maintenance skills so that as a community we can continue to keep the Sterling Mine Ditch trail open.  These skills will come in very handy as we begin work on the Jack-Ash Trail sometime in the future.

The funding for these trail crews comes from Stimulus funding allocated to trail work in this region.  We put in a request last fall to have some of these monies spent on the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail and we were successful.  The fact that all of you have spent so much time working on the open sections of the trail over the winter helped enormously in demonstrating we are serious about getting the Sterling Mine Ditch trail back in full working order.  When all of the work is complete we would like to work with BLM and have a community celebration to recognize BLM’s and the public’s help in putting the Sterling Mine Ditch trail back on the list of fabulous recreational resources in Southern Oregon.

We also put in an application to get some monies from Title II funding for various projects on the Sterling Mine Ditch which we have been told also will result in additional monies for the trail – especially for access improvements.  These projects probably won’t be carried out until next year but we’ll learn more over the next few months.

Our focus now expands to zeroing in on the details for the Jack-Ash trail route.  On May 9th, nine intrepid explorers hiked most of the way up Goat Cabin Ridge.  This is a route we thought we could use to connect the Sterling Mine Ditch trail to the Jack-Ash trail.  From the Sterling Mine Ditch trail somewhere around the Little Applegate trailhead area the plan is to find a route to the top of the ridge to meet the future Jack-Ash trail.  As some of the photos posted on our website indicate, the particular trail we hiked up is NOT the route we will take as it’s a straight up, seemingly vertical trail (that’s how it felt while we were walking up it), heavily used and eroded by motorcycle use.  However, from the vantage points we had along the way we can see there are many great options that will be much less steep and avoid conflicting with current motorcycle use.  If we ever get a serious blizzard on Anderson Butte, the motorcycle route would be one exciting toboggan or ski run!  The only problem would be how to stop when you hit the bottom and cross the dirt road.

Our next scouting effort for this connecting link will be starting at the top of Goat Cabin Ridge and working our way downhill towards the SMD looking for the most gradual route we can find.  For anyone wishing to hike up this ridge, it does provide spectacular views, great wildflowers – we saw clumps of wild peonies in bloom –and a phenomenal workout.  One of SUTA’s board members took some fabulous photos which you can see here.

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Over the next few months we will send out periodic emails announcing opportunities to go out and hike or horseback ride to figure out trail routes.  As our experience on Sunday indicated this entails getting lost trying to find where the trail might start, bushwhacking, dead-ends, lots of laughs, and gorgeous scenery to admire.  Love to have anyone come join us and bring a friend.  If anyone wishes to go out on their own to explore please let us know and we can give you some suggested hikes or rides.

Enjoy the spring.

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