Upper Rogue - Union Creek to Natural Bridge 10-1-21

Photos by Kay

Ten of us enjoyed magnificent fall colors under a crystal blue sky. We hiked alongside Union Creek, passing its confluence with the Rogue River. Crossing the bridge to nowhere (coined by AHG) we took the trail on the other side of the Rogue River, climbing up the hillside through old-growth Douglass Fir and down to Natural Bridge for lunch. Returning on the other side of the river, we tracked the “lollypop” version of this familiar hike. We’d ‘clocked’ 6.7 miles with 400’ net elevation gain.

It was a perfect day for fall colors, blazing reds and yellows. Passing through these trees and shrubs is magical. Viewing their vivid display on the distant shore, mirrored in the river, is one of the most magnificent features of fall in southern Oregon. We wondered about the species of Maple with such small red and orange leaves, so prolific along the Rogue. My novice ‘research’ led me to believe the variety is the Vine Maple, which some fellow hikers suggested uncertainly. It’s a native deciduous shrub that grows to 20-25’ tall and 15-20’ wide. It produces red and white flowers in spring and shows red, orange and yellow in the fall. It prefers shady areas. (If Liz or anyone knows otherwise, please let us know). I learned also that there are over 100 species and nearly as many subspecies of Maple, just 13 are native in North America.

During lunch, we enjoyed learning more about our new hikers, Vicki, Cynthia, and Jack, very happy to have them join us. Kathy Denzer read a lovely poem by Naomi Shihab Nye. We encourage hikers to bring (from time to time) something short that is inspirational, educational, funny, reflective, or whatever. Sharing just one or two brief things of this sort is well-received by our Friday group.

Prepared by Elisabeth

Ashland Hiking Home

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