Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!
– Red Queen in Through the Looking-Glass
– Distance: ~1.8 miles
– Min/max elev.: 2742’/3332′
– Elev. gain/loss: 1075’/-497′
Red Queen is a popular hiking and running trail in the lower eastern side of the Ashland watershed. This pedestrian-equestrian trail is on both City of Ashland property and Forest Service land. No bikes are allowed on this trail.
At the low end, this trail starts on the Bandersnatch trail just above the Snark intersection. It rolls at an essentially flat grade for the first 6/10ths of a mile and then climbs steadily at an average grade of 9% up to Caterpillar Crossing (where Caterpillar crosses 2060 and where Lizard ends and Jabberwocky starts).
The Jabberwocky downhill mountain bike trail is just below, which can either be a distraction or welcome entertainment.The Gryphon Trail (pedestrian-only) intersects with the Red Queen Trail at about 0.4 miles and makes for a good loop with Red Queen and Bandersnatch.
One can also hike up Red Queen and then at the top, turn right up the Caterpillar Trail to the Lewis Loops: Gyre and Gimble for various combinations. Alternatively, turn left onto the Caterpillar Trail and continue down to the White Rabbit Trail to Alice in Wonderland and then take Bandersnatch west or east. There are many loop opportunities.
Poison oak is visible on the sides of the trail and occasionally leans into the trail, so keep an eye out.
Red Queen is one of the first trails to be implemented after the completion of the Ashland Trails Project NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) in late 2014 and FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact) in Dec 2015. Because the trail is also on Ashland city lands, AWTA submitted a trails application to the Forest Lands Commission in 2015.
The trail was the biggest undertaking at the time for AWTA and took many months of group and individual trail work days. Several design challenges included: private property directly above during the city lands portion, which limited how fast the trail could climb; the presence of the future Jabberwocky below; and the Ashland Loop Rd above on the Forest Service section of the trail.
The Red Queen name is part of the Lewis Carroll theme and the name has some special relevance for some of the trail designers who were trying to stay ahead of demand and avert further rogue trail building. A comparison was made with the Red Queen Hypothesis in evolutionary biology which proposes that organisms must constantly adapt, evolve, and proliferate in order to survive while pitted against ever-evolving opposing organisms.
Written by Torsten Heycke 04/28/2020