Sterling Mine Ditch Trail

Area of Critical Environmental Concern - Oregon

Take a trip back in time on the historic Sterling Mine Ditch Trail. The ditch carried water from the Little Applegate River to operate hydraulic giants used on Sterling Creek for gold mining. Construction of the 26.5-mile-long ditch in 1877 employed up to 400 workers, many of them Chinese laborers. Today, the ditch is used by hikers, trail runners, equestrians, and mountain bikers of all ages and abilities. The trail passes through oak and ponderosa pine woods, madrone groves, fir forests, and open grassy areas with excellent views of the mountains and Little Applegate River. The spring wildflower show is spectacular!

maps

Map of the Ashland Sub-Unit in Southwest Oregon Protection District. Published by the Oregon Department of Forestry.Southwest Oregon - Ashland Sub-Unit 2014

Map of the Ashland Sub-Unit in Southwest Oregon Protection District. Published by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Map of Sterling Mine Ditch Trail & Jack-Ash Trail south of Medford in Oregon. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).Applegate - Sterling Mine Ditch Trail & Jack-Ash Trail

Map of Sterling Mine Ditch Trail & Jack-Ash Trail south of Medford in Oregon. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

brochures

Brochure and Map of Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in Oregon. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).Sterling Mine Ditch Trail - Brochure and Map

Brochure and Map of Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in Oregon. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Brochure and Map of Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in Oregon. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).Sterling Mine Ditch Trail - Brochure and Map

Brochure and Map of Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in Oregon. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Sterling Mine Ditch Trail ACEC https://www.blm.gov/visit/sterling-mine-ditch-trail Take a trip back in time on the historic Sterling Mine Ditch Trail. The ditch carried water from the Little Applegate River to operate hydraulic giants used on Sterling Creek for gold mining. Construction of the 26.5-mile-long ditch in 1877 employed up to 400 workers, many of them Chinese laborers. Today, the ditch is used by hikers, trail runners, equestrians, and mountain bikers of all ages and abilities. The trail passes through oak and ponderosa pine woods, madrone groves, fir forests, and open grassy areas with excellent views of the mountains and Little Applegate River. The spring wildflower show is spectacular!
WILD ROGUE Welcome to STERLING MINE DITCH TRAIL! Take a trip back in time on the historic Sterling Mine Ditch Trail. The ditch carried water from the Little Applegate River to operate hydraulic giants used on Sterling Creek for gold mining. Construction of the 26.5-mile-long ditch in 1877 employed up to 400 workers, many of them Chinese laborers. Today, the ditch is used by hikers, trail runners, equestrians, and mountain bikers of all ages and abilities. The trail passes through oak and ponderosa pine woods, madrone groves, fir forests, and open grassy areas with excellent views of the mountains and Little Applegate River. The spring wildflower show is spectacular! Know before you go open year round for hikers and trail runners. Equestrians and mountain bikers should avoid using the trail after significant rains. Wolf Gap trailhead is closed to mountain bikes year-round. No Fees. Day use only. seven trailheads allow for trips of various lengths. Restrooms and water are not available; carry your own water. dogs are allowed and must be under control. Respect private property and stay on trails. watch for ticks, poison oak, rattlesnakes, and other trail users. directions From Jacksonville, follow Highway 238 for 7.6 miles; turn left on Upper Applegate Road. After 2.8 miles, turn left on Little Applegate Road. Drive 3 miles to intersection with Sterling Creek Road. To access the Bear Gulch, Tunnel Ridge, and Little Applegate trailheads, continue on Little Applegate Road. To access the Grub Gulch, Deming Gulch, Armstrong Gulch, and Wolf Gap trailheads, turn left on Sterling Creek Road. Contact info point of interest 3040 Biddle Rd Medford, OR 97504 541-618-2200 BLM_OR_MD_Mail@blm.gov The trail is maintained with help from the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association (SUTA) and community volunteers. Visit SUTA’s Web site to see how you can help: sutaoregon.org
Sterling Mine Ditch Trail - A Vital Partnership BLM Medford District A partnership between the Medford District Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Siskiyou Upland Trails Association (SUTA), and the neighboring community drove the re-opening of the historic Sterling Mine Ditch Trail (SMDT). This partnership is vital to keeping the trail open for the community. The BLM provides resource planning and management of the SMDT and helps with large-scale maintenance needs. SUTA is a non-profit community trails association that is developing a trail system connecting existing trails in Jacksonville to those of Ashland, Oregon, along the scenic ridgeline. This will become the Jack-Ash trail. The historic SMDT is a key part of this community trail system and will create a 25-mile loop in the center of the Jack-Ash Trail. SUTA has taken the lead in procuring grant funds and organizing volunteers to assist with rehabilitation and maintenance of the SMDT. SUTA volunteers provide most of the needed maintenance of the SMDT through scheduled work parties. You may assist BLM and SUTA in helping keep this historic trail open for public use by participating in a work party. Visit www.SUTAoregon.org to schedule work parties, activities, and other events. Medford District BLM 541-618-2200 www.blm.gov/or/districts/medford A History of Riches Long before the appearance of European settlers, Sterling Creek and the Little Applegate River area were traditional homelands of the Dakubetede people. This group was also known as the Applegate Creek Indians and was part of the Rogue River Indians, a name applied to the people of the Upper Rogue River and its tributaries. The Dakubetedes utilized an abundance of berries, seeds, roots, fish, and game throughout the year to maintain a diverse diet. The Dakubetedes spoke a dialect of the Athabascan language group, unusual for the tribes in interior southwest Oregon. The Dakubetedes took part in the Rogue River Indian Treaties of 1853 and 1854 that resulted in their removal from their homelands to the Grand Ronde and Siletz Indian Reservations in northwest Oregon. When gold was discovered in 1854 on Sterling Creek, prospectors poured into the area. At first, they panned for gold along the creek, but this proved to be inefficient in extracting the gold that was buried under layers of rock and soil. Hydraulic mining, using a powerful jet of water, promised better returns for large scale mining; they just needed more water. In 1877 miners built the Sterling Mine Ditch to redirect water from the upper reaches of the Little Applegate River to the Sterling Creek Mine. The ditch followed the contours of the rugged slopes of Anderson Butte and lost only 200 feet in elevation over its 26.5 mile length. Using hand tools, up to 400 workers, most of them probably Chinese, completed the ditch in just 6 months, at a cost of $70,000. The ditch carried water to the mine, and the trail alongside it provided access for ditch maintenance. During peak operation, hydraulic mining on Sterling Creek blasted Hydraulic (Placer) mining at Sterling Creek Mine, 1905. Photo: Southern Oregon Historical Society. History The tunnel through the ridge still exists at the top of the Tunnel Ridge access trail. The SMDT passes through a diversity of landscapes and ecosystems as it winds its way around the ridges and ravines of Anderson Butte. This diversity contributes to an ever-changing array of wildflowers, trees, birds, wildlife, and environments. Trail users enjoy panoramic views of surrounding landscapes--the Siskiyou Crest, Wagner Butte, Little Applegate Valley, Greyback Mountain, and the Red Buttes Wilderness, as well as deep woods and lovely meadows. Groves of mature ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, big leaf maple, white and black oak, cedar, hazel, fern and other woodland plants flourish on shady northfacing slopes and in draws near Deming Gulch, Armstrong Gulch, and along the Little Applegate and Tunnel Ridge access trails. A giant madrone graces the SMDT and dwarfs a hiker. Arrowleaf balsamroot and paintbrush decorate a meadow along the trail. Annual “Run-the-Ditch” 5-mile run. Ditch construction workers were the very first trail users. “Ditch riders” were also among the original trail users. These were men who rode horseback along the trail on the berm of the ditch to make sure the water continued to flow. Please be courteous of others while riding the trail. Follow right-of-way signs. Impressive stonework is found in retaining walls which still support the trail in many places along the ditch. People of all ages enjoy the SMDT. Photo: L.Smith. Drier southern exposures support madrone, manzanita, oaks, buckbrush, mountain mahagony, silk tassel, Klamath plum, and even a few junipers. Several champion trees are found along the ditch, including a massive madrone 18 feet in circumference, growing between Bear Gulch and Tunnel Ridge. Spring brings an abundance of wildflowers and birds that last well into summer.

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