Frequently Asked Questions
Where are the best places to park to access the trails?
The “Bandergate” parking lot above Lithia Park provides access to the Bandersnatch Trail and trails intersecting and adjacent to Bandersnatch. From the Ashland Plaza, travel south on Main Street to Pioneer Street. Make a right on Pioneer and go up the hill, veering left onto Fork Street. Continue up Fork, which will turn into Glenview. After 1.2 miles (total miles from the Plaza) you will find parking on the right and left sides of the road. Look to the left side of the road for the gate and a sign for Bandersnatch. You’ll find the official Bandersnatch trailhead a short distance from the gate.
There is parking above Lithia Park via Winburn Way. From the Ashland Plaza, take Winburn Way around the park for 1.2 miles. After passing the reservoir on the left, continue for a very short distance straight ahead instead of turning left, and you will find parking on the left. Parking here will give you access to Lithia Park and also to the west end of Forest Service Road 2060, where you can access trails on the west side of the watershed (Wonder, Fell on Knee, Rickety, Horn Gap, Wagner Glade).
The White Rabbit parking lot provides access to many trails (see map online here). You can park and hike or bike up USFS RD 2016 (Ashland Loop Road) and access the Caterpillar Trail, the Lewis Loops, Lizard, and more. The parking lot is at the top of the Bandersnatch Trail and adjacent to the Siskiyou Mountain Park and the Mike Uthoff Trail. From the Ashland Plaza, travel south on Main to Pioneer. Make a right on Pioneer and go up the hill, veering left onto Fork Street. Continue up Fork, which will turn into Glenview. After one mile make a left onto Ashland Loop Road. Continue up Ashland Loop Road for a total of 2.9 miles (from the Plaza).
There is also parking in several parking lots on the west side of Lithia Park. There is unofficial roadside parking up Tolman Creek Road to access the Toothpick Trail and a parking lot eight miles up Tolman Creek Road to access the Four Corners parking lot. There is an unofficial parking lot at the Hitt Road gate. There is parking at the Mt. Ashland Ski Area for access to the Split Rock Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the top of the Bull Gap Trail.
Are parking permits required to park in any of the watershed parking areas?
Parking permits are not required at any of the above parking lots, with the exception of winter parking passes at the Mt. Ashland Ski Area. Street parking on the side of Lithia Park ranges from two–four hours.
Why are there controlled (prescribed) burns in the Ashland Watershed?
The periodic controlled burning is an Ashland Forest Resiliency (AFR) Stewardship Project and happens primarily in the spring and late fall. The Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project is a partnership of The City of Ashland, the Lomakatsi Restoration Project, the U.S. Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, and The Nature Conservancy. According to the AFR website, “Forest Restorations are actions to re-instate ecological processes, which accelerate recovery of forest structure, ecological functioning and biodiversity levels towards those typical of a late successional forest. Forest restoration is an inclusive process dependent on collaboration among a wide range of stakeholders including the local community in Ashland, government officials, nongovernment organizations, scientists, and funding agencies. Thinning out crowded trees helps to fund the restoration activities and protects the community from the threat of fire. A century of fire suppression has created conditions that require tree density management. Restoring fire to the land is a key process to help forest regenerate naturally.” Please visit the Ashland Forest Resiliency website for excellent information about this project.
For a comprehensive presentation on the history of wildfires and the current status of wildfire management, see the Paul Hessburg (USFS Research Landscape Ecologist) Ted Talk on the subject: Paul Hessburg: Why Wildfires Have Gotten Worse.
Are there any flat trails?
Because the Ashland Watershed leads to the top of Mount Ashland, most of the trails are sloped; however, there are a few flat trail options and there are certainly flat stretches on a few of the trails (Red Queen and Fell on Knee have nice flat sections, but you have to go up hill to get there). A worthwhile flat option can be accessed by driving eight miles up Tolman Creek Road to the Four Corners intersection and parking lot. There is a kiosk there with a handy map. Head south/southwest on FS Road 2016 deep into the watershed without the steepness. This road is easily accessible for hikers, runners, or mountain bikes. There are many large ponderosa pines along the way and several small springs run down from Mount Ashland. The east fork of the Ashland Creek merges from the hillside at about the five mile mark.
The Alice in Wonderland Trail, parts of the multiuser Caterpillar Trail, and the first section of the White Rabbit Trail interconnect and are somewhat flat. These trails can be accessed from the White Rabbit Trail parking lot accessible via FS Road 2016.
Are the trails dog friendly?
Dogs are welcome (and popular) on the trails. Leashes and clean up are required. There is a dog scat bag box located near the Bandergate parking lot.
What types of wildlife live in the Ashland Watershed?
Pacific Fishers are house-cat sized mammals that live in the forests of Southern Oregon and Northern California. They are in a family that includes weasels, mink, martens, and otters. Their coloring is light brown to blackish-brown. They have long bodies with short legs and long bushy tails. Their mating season is in April. As of this writing I have seen a total of three Pacific Fishers–all near the Fell on Knee trail in the springtime. Fishers are shy and harmless. They hang out in trees and rock outcroppings. See the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website for more photos and more information about the Pacific Fisher.
Snakes and lizards
Snakes are shy in general, and particularly on the trails. The harmless Northwestern Garter Snake (Thamnophis Ordinoides) is perhaps the most common snake in the watershed. They are dark skinned with yellow horizontal stripes from head to tail. Like many reptiles, they enjoy the sun and won’t bother humans. There are no rattlesnakes or other poisonous snakes in the Ashland Watershed. Rattlesnakes prefer the drier conditions on the east side of I-5, and can be found near Emigrant Lake and up to Grizzly Peak. The lizards love the trails and can often be seen sunning and doing pushups on the rocks.
What is the best way to handle a bear or cougar encounter?
Black bears and cougars do live in the watershed, but there has never been a bear or cougar attack. Bear sightings are common spring through fall. Cougar sightings on the trails are very rare. If you do see a cougar or a bear, stay calm and do not run, then assess your surroundings. If you see a bear, check if there are bear cubs that a mother bear may be protecting. Do not come between the mother and her cubs. Depart from the scene quietly and confidently, keeping an eye on the bear, but avoiding eye contact (important and different than cougar eye contact). If you see a cougar, do look the cougar in the eyes. Pick up small children or dogs. Make yourself large with your body, clothes, or backpack. Be loud and dominant. Slowly back away. Do not run.
What does poison oak look like?
Poison oak is an invasive shrub that grows throughout most of the lower elevation areas of the Ashland Watershed (below 4000 feet elevation). It is best identified by its three-leaf pattern. The leaves are green and green and red in the spring and summer, and red in the fall. The plant secretes the easily transferable arusiol oil, which is known to cause allergic reactions in many people. Avoid contact with poison oak. If you have been exposed, take precautionary steps to remove the oil. Contact your doctor or research “poison oak” for suggestions.
What types of wildflowers are in the Ashland Watershed?
The Watershed wildflower season begins as early as February, depending on the winter. In March and April the real show begins with Hound’s tooth, Scarlet Fritillaries, and Shooting Stars.
What types of trees are in the Ashland Watershed?
Ponderosa Pine, Sugar Pine, Madrone, Manzanita, Oak, Fir