Sterling Mine Ditch - Tunnel Ridge to Bear Gulch Loop 2-25-22

Photos by Kay

We arrived at the Sterling Mine Ditch Tunnel Ridge trailhead on a sunny, cool day with the mountain tops covered with snow. Nine of us were eager to take the trail and enjoy a hiking outing together.

We steadily climbed up the Tunnel Ridge trail through the oak forest. The snow had melted from the trail, but a few stretches were slightly muddy. At the top we marveled at the 100’ long Ditch Tunnel dug out for hydraulic mining in 1870. We then turned left to continue along the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail towards Bear Gulch.

The huge madrone trees glistened with melting snow. Green moss-covered downed logs in the shaded areas of the gulches. Lunch was at a warm, sunny spot where we observed emerging wildflower seedlings including fritillary.

Continuing along the trail we admired views of snow-covered Dutchman’s Peak. Kudos to the eagle scout who built benches at several scenic viewpoints.

We returned down the mountain through Bear Gulch. Water was flowing down a small waterfall before the creek disappeared below the ground. The stream reappeared down the trail in a moist area with blooming buttercups.

We hadn’t seen any other hikers the entire day, but a final surprise was stepping off the trail to enable two horse riders with spirited horses to pass up the trail.

At the Bear Gulch trailhead we walked back on the road to the Tunnel Ridge trailhead satisfied with an invigorating hike in the mountains (5 miles total).

We are grateful to the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association for developing and maintaining these trails on the ridges between Jacksonville and Ashland.

Kay

Ashland Hiking Home

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