A visit to Ashland should include Shakespeare and hiking – both simply come with the territory. But if you’re on a tight timetable and need to squeeze both activities in, try hiking Grizzly Peak as a rewarding, yet schedule-friendly option.
The hike doesn’t include sightings of grizzly bears – those no longer live in Oregon. The area was named after the last ursus arctos to live in the southern part of the state. "Old Reelfoot" roamed the area for 50 years, before he was shot in 1890.
Today, Grizzly Peak is better known for its views. The loop hike is one of the closest to Ashland, and can be completed in about three hours. It’s well-maintained and accessible throughout the year.
From the parking lot trailhead, hike about 2.3 miles along Pamelia Creek to the junction labeled as the Grizzly Peak Loop. Here travelers have the option of taking a detour to see Pamelia Lake – which is a stunning alpine lake – before heading back to the junction and starting the ascent. The climb is steady and long, passing through areas of mixed fir, cedar and pine. Look for "Grizzly Peak," an unsigned and easily missed pile of rocks about 0.3 miles from this point.
At roughly the two-and-a-half-mile point, the trail hits a ridge, and hikers are graced with a sweeping view of Mount Jefferson. From the summit a little farther up, one can see Mount Shasta, Mount McLaughlin, Table Rocks, and Pilot Rock. It’s a great reward from all that uphill trekking. At peak seasons, expect to see fellow travelers taking meal breaks at the summit. It’s not a bad idea to join in and feast while savoring the well-earned views.
Another lovely aspect of this hike comes thanks to the East Antelope fire, which burned 1,886 acres of forest in 2002. The recovering landscape of the north side of the mountain holds less trees, but is lushly abundant in wildflowers. Morel and chanterelle mushrooms are also abundant in the spring, and mushroom hunters can be spotted collecting them.
Directions: From Ashland drive east on Highway 66, then turn left on Dead Indian Memorial Highway. About 6.7 miles down, take a left at Shale City Road. Continue 3 miles, then turn left on the gravel Road 38-2E-9.2. Keep an eye out for a big junction after a little less than a mile down, but keep straight here. The road climbs up for about another mile before ending at the trailhead. There is parking at the trailhead for 10-12 cars. There is no parking fee.