Day 4: White City to Ashland via Gold Hill and Jacksonville - Going Rogue 2020 - CycleBlaze

May 31, 2020

Day 4: White City to Ashland via Gold Hill and Jacksonville

I got away from the Best Western White City a little before 9. A little late. Today is forecast to be dry but still cloudier than normal.

I backtracked west 3 miles to Table Rock road, past 3 big lumber mills. Murphy, Weyerhaeuser, Georgia Pacific. Also trucking companies and utility companies. I didn't notice ANY of that yesterday, hurrying to the motel in pouring rain.

I crossed Table Rock road, then turned left onto Kirtland road. I'm sort of duplicating yesterday's route but this time I'm on the south side of the Rogue river. Kirtland road has no river views. There is always a big field between the road and the river. It does have good views of Lower Table Rock.

Lower Table Rock from Kirtland road.
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Kirtland road crosses Bear creek very close to where it flows into the Rogue river. The creek looks impressive now because an inch of rain fell yesterday. Normally it's kind of an anemic creek even though it flows through the most populated part of the Rogue valley - Medford, Central Point, and Ashland.

Bear Creek and Lower Table Rock. The creek is big and brown because an inch of rain fell yesterday.
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I turned right onto Gold Ray road, finally on a no-traffic road. The beginning and end of the road are paved but the middle 3.5 miles is unpaved.

Gold Ray road has 3.5 miles of gravel. The first half is along the Rogue river.
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Gold Ray road is one of those amazing roads where I could spend the entire day on one short road. Great views. Easy river access. Uncrowded. Hard to believe it's only 10 miles from 100,000 people in Central Point and Medford.

Rogue river from Gold Ray road.
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This is an easy section of the Rogue river to paddle. Many access points on both sides of the river.

Gold Ray road has many river access points.
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This area is the driest part of my route. The hills are oak forested because there isn't enough rain for pine trees. 10 miles east it's even drier and the only trees are junipers.

The second half of Gold Ray road is in oak forested hills.
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Pavement resumes for the last 2 miles of Gold Ray road returning to Gold Hill. This side of the river has a better view of Ti'lomikh falls but fewer visitors. All the traffic is on the other side, on Sams Valley road.

Ti'lomikh falls. This side of the river has a better view.
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In Gold Hill I stopped for an early lunch. I got an awful "personal" pizza to go and ate it on the bank of the Rogue river with a view of the bridge. The view is marred somewhat by the older railroad bridge.

1927 bridge at Gold Hill. Designed by Conde McCullough. I like the "arches over an arch" design.
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I stopped on the bridge in Gold Hill to take a photo of the Rogue river. Well aware that I won't see the river again until day 8.

View from the bridge. Last view of the Rogue river until day 8.
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I pedaled south from Gold Hill on Old Stage road. It's scenic and hilly. My kind of route. Moderate traffic, no shoulder. Not tranquil but not dangerous either.

Today I could avoid hills entirely and pedal the Bear Creek Greenway bike path from Central Point to Ashland. That would cut the distance and climbing in half but would be very boring. I'm taking the scenic route.

Leaving Gold Hill pedaling south into the hills towards Jacksonville.
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Old Stage road starts with a big climb in an isolated valley. Then it descends into the Rogue valley, with panoramic views to the north and east. I had my final good view of the Table Rocks. I will hike them someday...

Lower Table Rock (left) and Upper Table Rock (right) from Old Stage road.
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At one scenic turnout I stopped to look at a small monument installed by a company called Trails West Inc. They promote the history of emigrant trails in the western U.S., erecting monuments and selling guidebooks.

The Applegate trail is the northernmost branch of the California emigrant trail. In northwest Nevada emigrants had the choice to either go southwest to California or northwest to Oregon. The stereotype is that families went to Oregon to be farmers and single men went to California to work the gold mines. The Applegate Trail is sort of a southern branch of the Oregon Trail. I live very near the Applegate Trail. A similar Trails West Inc. monument is a mile from my house.

Trails West Inc. monument along Old Stage road commemorating the Applegate Trail.
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Today was mostly cloudy. Partially sunny in the afternoon. High of only about 70F. No rain today but still below normal temperatures.

It's Sunday and I'm near a medium sized city. I saw many cyclists. No rain today but still too many clouds to see 9495 foot Mt. McLoughlin.
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Old Stage road has the best views of Mt. McLoughlin during this tour. I was looking forward to a view of the 9495 foot (2895 m) peak but the clouds never cooperated. Clouds also obscured the view of Mt. Ashland.

On the way into Jacksonville I stopped to look at two fancy inns that I had never seen before.

Bybee's Historic Inn, circa 1857. Just north of Jacksonville, Oregon.
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Carriage House Inn in Jacksonville.
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Then I took a quick snap in the middle of downtown and kept pedaling. I will spend tomorrow night in Jacksonville.

Downtown Jacksonville. I didn't stop because I will spend tomorrow night here.
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I pedaled east of Jacksonville on South Stage road. It's fairly busy, a direct link from Jacksonville to south Medford. First is a big hill climb, then a long gradual descent all the way to Bear creek in south Medford. The area has many vineyards that all appear to have been founded less than 20 years ago. Closer to Medford are pear orchards that are much older.

Quail Run vineyard east of Jacksonville on South Stage road.
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South Stage road dead ends at the Bear Creek Greenway. I pedaled the southern half of the 18 mile trail, from south Medford to Ashland. Upstream along Bear Creek. It's not really a big creek but the flow is good now thanks to an inch of rain yesterday.

I pedaled the southern half of the Bear Creek Greenway, from south Medford to Ashland.
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I'm not a huge fan of bike trails but it was a nice change of pace. Some parts of the trail are immersed in the riparian zone along the creek. Others pass through landscaped parks. Still other parts of the trail go alongside I-5 and behind trailer parks. Upstream, then steady uphill from the trail to downtown Ashland which is 1900 feet elevation. Ashland is the highest town in the Rogue valley at the foot of the Siskiyou mountains. The Mt. Ashland ski area is only a few miles from town.

Bear Creek Greenway crossing Bear creek.
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I had a great dinner on the back patio of Louie's restaurant overlooking Ashland creek. Caesar salad, 2 chipotle fish tacos, 2 mole chicken tacos.

Dinner overlooking Ashland creek in downtown Ashland.
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The Rogue valley is very conservative, a place where Trump signs are very common. Ashland is the Rogue valley's liberal bubble. The only place in southern Oregon that has Black Lives Matter signs and no Trump signs. It has been an upscale resort town for most of its history. It has a state university, Southern Oregon University. And it's the home of Oregon Shakespeare Festival since 1935. It was known as a hippie town in the 1960's but has long since gentrified. Ashland is far more more upscale, artsy, touristy, and cosmopolitan than the rest of the Rogue valley.

Tonight's destination is Columbia Hotel. Ashland's oldest hotel built in 1910. The hotel occupies only the second floor of the building.  Next door is Ashland's only high rise building, the 1927 Lithia Springs hotel.

Tonight's home is the 1910 Columbia hotel. On the right is the 1927 Art Deco style Lithia Springs hotel.
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I walked in the front door of Lithia Springs hotel to take a photo of their spacious lobby.

View inside the front door of Lithia Springs hotel.
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The front door of Columbia Hotel opens to a stairway. The lobby is up 32 stairs. 

View inside the front door of Columbia Hotel.
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After carrying my bike up the 32 stairs I discovered that the back entrance has only 9 stairs. I was surprised that the hotel allowed me to take my bike into the room. Historic hotels are usually very fussy about bikes.

Lobby of Columbia hotel.
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My room is very basic. No TV, no A/C, no fridge, no microwave, no coffee maker. No breakfast but a cafe is 20 steps from the back door. Toilet and shower are down the hall. It appears that the layout and amenities have hardly changed since 1910. The room cost $95. The value is the location, not the amenities.

Columbia Hotel has many bad reviews from people with limited mobility. Apparently the hotel's advertising doesn't clearly disclose that it is NOT handicap-accessible. Both entrances have stairs. There is no ramp and no elevator. The Americans With Disabilities Act is optional in historic properties.

My room at Columbia hotel. Toilet and shower are down the hall.
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I walked around the downtown area quite a bit. The central plaza connects to Lithia Park. I walked all around the plaza area and the park. Ashland has many parks and pathways along Ashland creek.

I also walked around the 3 Shakespeare theaters but there is nothing to see but big walls from the outside. I hoped to see the replica of Stratford-Upon-Avon's Globe theater. I visited the original during a school field trip in 7th grade. I saw several Shakespeare plays when I lived in England but never became a Shakespeare fan.

My hotel is in the middle of the downtown business district 2 blocks south of the central plaza. I arrived at the hotel just after 5 PM. A full day on the road, with many stops.

I really enjoyed wandering around Ashland. I walked about 3 miles. It was the closest thing to an urban experience during this tour. The only place during this tour that I saw non-local tourists. Ashland's tourism industry is definitely suffering, though. Hotels and restaurants were far from full.

The day started with a backcountry route along the Rogue river. Then great views on Old Stage road, historic charm in Jacksonville, vineyards, pear orchards, and the Bear Creek Greenway. The day ended with cosmopolitan charm in Ashland. Quite a diverse range of experiences for one day on a bicycle.

Distance: 46.2 mi. (74 km)   3.5 miles was unpaved.
Ascent/Descent: +1960/-1283 ft. (+598/-391 m)
Average Speed: 8.8 mph (14 km/h)

Today's ride: 46 miles (74 km)
Total: 150 miles (241 km)

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