Track download from Randy: Layton Mine Ditch Trail North 3-27-23.gpx
We started our exploration of the 21 mile Layton Mine Ditch Trail system (Williams, Josephine Co ) with a 6.6 mile out and back on the Upper LMDT.
Half of our group as well as most of you reading this report have never been on the Layton Mine Ditch Trail, so some background is called for.
The AHG scouting team (Rich, Randy, Jerry and Gary) began exploring the LMDT in 2020 after reading a hiking blog report called Boots on the Trail. After scouting the length of the system over several months, we decided to break it into 4 separate hikes to be done over the Spring months, wildflower season.
The weather was wintery in the 30s to 40s, but calm with nothing dropping from the clouds. But the environs on the trail gave strong suggestions of Spring with local flowers beginning to show themselves. In the order of the posted photos we saw: red Indian Warriors, purple Shooting Stars, yellow Buttercups, blue Hound's Tongue and a purple Grass Widow, among others.
The trail is mostly level as it parallels the ditch; but there is a necessary bypass to avoid some man made eye sores on the trail. Perhaps similar to the 19th century prospectors who hoped to strike it rich, beginning in 2015 three separate Marijuana grows were built right on the trail! Now seemingly abandoned and in disrepair with skeletal remains of green houses, a locked gate has been erected and hikers must use the long bypass to get around the failed dope grows and back onto the Layton trail.
Fairly soon our lunch spot came into view, the historic Chinese wall, who's construction allowed the ditch water to complete its journey to Layton Mine in Ferris Gulch. Briefly, a huge rock outcropping stood in the way of the ditch, Chinese laborers used lots of dynamite to blast a rock ditch in the outcropping; then with the rock fragments built a retaining wall to allow the water to continue flowing to the mine on the other side of the ridge.
Note: the Williams Community Forest Project, a volunteer group which maintains the trail, has asked for permission to work on continuing the trail to the mine itself.
We had a nice lunch with chocolate and Girl Scout cookies passed around, but with the sight of snow dropping on Grayback and Sugarloaf mountains across the valley, we decided to head back.
We made it back to the cars without a drop of snow or rain. We had climbed about 500' with most of that in the bypass.
After the hike, five of us stopped at Pennington Farm to resupply with their freshly made pies, turnovers and jam.
Note: Thanks to Dan for agreeing to be interviewed about the AHG by a reporter from the Daily Courier (GP). It was an article geared towards seniors about the hiking groups that are available in the Rogue Valley.