Category: Day Trip Adventures

Imnaha Springs

Imnaha Spring July 2017

I remember camping here a lot as a child. My family and my parent’s friends found refuge in the beauty and coolness of the Imnaha Springs area in the Summer time. As children, we found a lot of ways to get into trouble. When your parents are outdoor tent camping and letting you run wild, that takes some effort!

Imnaha Campground
The clearing in the creek where we washed dishes when I was a child

One of the most dramatic memories I have involves washing the camp dishes in the creek. My mother sent my sister and I down after dinner for our camp chore. It was right before dark and there was a long trail through the woods that lead to the opening on the creek. We had heard many stories from the adults at night about cougars in the area. I walked ahead of my younger sister, ready to get the job done quickly and return to the campfire, where our parents and friends sat telling tall tales. The further down the trail we got, the quieter it became. My sister was lagging behind and I was in a hurry. I reached the creek and began scrubbing the leftovers from the pots and silverware.

My sister seemed to be walking very slowly because I was almost done and she still wasn’t in sight. Then… I heard it. A moaning and scratching sound coming from the group of trees on the mound above the creek clearing. I sat still and waited. Again, a quiet growl. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. My sister was somewhere on the path and she must be close to that area now. I remembered hearing that you are supposed to make a lot of noise and appear as big as possible. I had no time! I grabbed up the pots and utensils and began clanging them together as hard as I could.

As much as I was in fear of my life, I had to get to my sister. I climbed the path towards the group of trees where the cat was lurking, in between me and my sister and the safety of the camp. I yelled and held the pots above my head, shaking them vigorously. As I rounded the corner I entered the darkness of the tall trees and saw nothing. I stomped towards the sound, waiting for my eyes to adjust.

And then … out pops my sister, laughing hysterically! I’m still not sure how she survived the walk back to camp.

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My son nearing the water tower, next to the Forest Service Cabin

My fondest memories, by far, are of the springs themselves. Where the water starts fresh, untainted by the miles of stream bed down stream. The air is pure and there are wildflowers surrounding you. The path is covered in moss and it welcomes bare feet. It is a place of renewal.

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My three children, exploring the path of my childhood

This summer, I returned. This time I brought my own children. The trees have grown, but the paths seems shorter and the night time more welcoming.

To visit, from Medford take 62 to towards Shady Cove, and turn right on to Butte Falls Hwy. Pass through Butte Falls and less than a mile from town, turn left onto the Butte Falls-Prospect Highway. Turn right on Forest Service Road 34 and go 8 miles until its junction with Forest Service Road 37. Travel North on Forest Service Road 37 for 5 miles. Take Imnaha Campground turn-off and continue through campground to find the cabin which has parking for the Imnaha Springs visitors.

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Wildflowers of Butte Falls Hwy

Wildflowers of Butte Falls Hwy

The drive to Butte Falls from Medford is magical this time of year. Blankets of wildflowers line the side of Butte Falls Highway, making the scenic drive a botanical wonderland adventure. Southern Oregon experiences tremendous native wild flower blooms every year. Now is the time to see them right outside of Medford, Oregon.

 

Depending on the rainfall, wild flower blooms on the rim of the Rogue Valley will extend into mid-July. Our native varieties withstand the heat in full bloom. The Shasta daisies, mildewed, and Indian Paintbrush blooms are in full swing right now and they grow thick by the road side of Butte Falls Hwy. Among the other varieties are Bachelor’s Buttons, Black Eyed Susan’s, and Lupines.

Many hiking trails in the area give you an up close and personal experience with these flowers. I have not experienced the overwhelming variety and numbers of native blooming plants, however, as you will find now in the Butte Falls area.

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From Medford, Oregon take Hwy 62 to Butte Falls Hwy. Continue up Butte Falls Hwy to the Town of Butte Falls. The best experience is the 3 mile stretch before the town of Butte Falls, continuing through Butte Falls, on to the Willow Lake turnoff. This is where you will experience the most roadside blooms and variety.

Mary Jane Feetham

Butte Falls, Oregon

Butte Falls, Oregon

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Butte Falls is a small town situated in the foot hills of the cascades, 45 minutes from Medford, Oregon.This old logging town is still very much alive in heart and sense of adventure. Within miles of town are lakes, a network of trails, beautiful waterfalls, and gorgeous forests. The town itself offers a well stocked store, a gas station, and great old-time cafes. Butte Falls is home to the Butte Falls School District and the community is very education oriented.

Every year the Town of Butte Falls puts together a Fourth of July Festival.  The event is hosted by the Butte Falls Active Club Committee. The proceeds go directly back to the community oriented events to keep the community spirit alive.

This year is no exception. It will be a great year with local vendors, family game booths, live entertainment, excellent food, BINGO, and a bounce house! All this and more will be at the Butte Falls Park in down town Butte Falls, Oregon on July 4, 2016.

As the Vice President of the Butte Falls Active Club, I am putting together a fundraiser Fun Run that will coincide with the Butte Falls Fourth of July Festival. The 2016 Sasquatch 5K Fun Run event planning has gone well. Planning this type of fundraiser has it’s challenges but the local women here in Butte Falls know a thing or two about determination. What this community event has to offer is astounding. From a run through the forest to a outdoor BBQ and Bingo, there is something everyone in the family will enjoy. If you have never been, it is worth going to.

The run will begin at 8 am sharp at the Butte Falls Landing, located at 801 Laurel Ave, Butte Falls Oregon. The Sasquatch 5K meanders the outskirts of town down through the forest to the water falls, back up and through the charming town of Butte Falls, ending where it began. The Sasquatch 5K Fun Run is open to everyone and children 12 and under are free. Costumes are encouraged and rewarded and everyone will go home with a prize!

Free parking is available at the Landing for the day.

For more on what this fun fundraiser supports, view the Butte Falls Active Club Facebook Page.

For more information about the event Sasquatch Event Page

To register for the 2016 Sasquatch 5K Fun Run, click here.

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Mary Jane Feetham

Sunset Trail – Lake of the Woods

Sunset Trail – Lake of the Woods

Our local mountain lakes have so much to offer our families.Experience a leisurely stroll on the network of trails located at Lake of the Woods!

 

The Sunset Trail leads you along the lake side, through the forest, towards the resort. Epic scenes of Mount McLoughlin and Lake of the Woods itself are almost constantly visible. The trail itself is well maintained and easy to wheel a stroller on.

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Educational Boards are located along the trail side that teach you about the history of the area and the ecology of our local wilderness. Chairs along the trail make for a luxurious rest along the way.

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The Sunset trail meanders along the lake and crosses the Rainbow Bay Park at one mile. Here is another set of restrooms, and the resort is less than 1/8 of a mile from that point. Enjoy the day by making use of this wonderful trail system. You may learn a thing or to on the way about the area.

Lake of the Woods is about 45 minutes from down town Medford. From Hwy 62 head up Hwy 140, towards Klamath Falls to the Lake of the Woods Resort Rd. Turn right and pass the resort entrance. At the stop sign, turn right on Dead Indian Memorial Hwy. In less than a mile, turn into the Sunset Bay Campground area. There is a boat launch, an excellent swimming area, a bathroom, and a trail head. It is $5 to park for the whole day at the Day Use Area.

Mary Jane Feetham

 

 

On the banks of the Klamath River

On the banks of the Klamath River

The Klamath River is a wonderful place to spend the day. It is accessible off of Highway 66, less than one hour from Ashland, Oregon.

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Grassy meadows, pelicans, the sound of a soothing river. What a wonderful spot to be in for the day with your children. I have come to love the Klamath River and all of it’s tributaries. The fish are abundant as well as the birds. My favorite place to visit this river is close to home, near Keno, Oregon. Topsy Recreational Site is directly above the dam. Migratory birds flock to this region and this is a great spot to enjoy them.

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Hiking along the trails above and below the dam is an adventure in itself. There is an abundance of wildlife and farmland activity. The shallow slopes of the bank and calm beaches above the dam are great for exploration. A wonderful article including a map to this area was provided at Klamath Birding Trails.com.

I enjoy camping off of the Topsy Grade Road above the dam. In the morning, I take the kids to the river bank and we walk the bank of the Klamath River. After lunch, we take a short drive to the J.C. Power Dam and drop below, where the river runs swiftly to take a few casts. This section of the river is famous for it’s cold water … goldfish? Yes, gold fish are a common catch in this area. Check the water conditions above and below the dam to plan your tackle at ODF Topsy Reservoir.

Fishing for gold
Tyler Ridgeway and 10″ Goldfish     Photo Courtesy of Brian Northrup

 

 

I have smaller children and it can be challenging to spend any length of time below the dam due to the rocky terrain. This is World Class trout water though and is definitely worth your while to try.

 

 

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Directly below J.C. Boyle Dam

I have smaller children and it can be challenging to spend any length of time below the dam due to the rocky terrain. I return to the milder regions of the river for the afternoon at Topsy Reservoir. This is a great opportunity for a mini-day vacation where you can truly lose yourself in the beauty on the banks of the Klamath River.

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Mary Jane Feetham

 

 

The Wood River – Navigable History

The Wood River – Navigable History

A little less than 2 hours from Medford is the historical town of Fort Klamath. Through that town runs a river, with ancient history and epic scenery.

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The Wood River is not a ripping, thrilling, white water experience. It is a relaxing 18 miles float through a beautiful country side teeming with wild life. The Wood River is clear and cold, and in some sections lack a lot of depth. You may find yourself porting the boat here and there, but it is worth it!

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From the Rogue Valley, take 140 east and turn Left on to the West Side Rd, about 55 miles from Medford. The sign also reads Volcanic Legacy Highway. Fort Klamath is about 18 miles further. The history of the Wood River begins in the old US Calvary Fort built in the late 1880’s. Forth Klamath has some of the most unique old farm buildings I have ever seen. It is now an unincorporated active ranching community. The Wood River is short, about 18 miles from Kimball State Recreation Site, to the Wood River Wetland Area and take out.

The put in, at Kimball State Recreation Site, is located a few miles out of town. It has restrooms and a few camp sites. The river access is easy to drop a boat into and the views begin right away. From the river, views of the Crater Lake rim are present. The Wood River is best known for the fly fishing and bird watching opportunities. I am not an avid bird watcher, but a lot of places in Klamath County, the diversity of wild fowl is spectacular!

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The Wood River meanders around bends through the farm country and forests in the country side. One can do the entire length, or plan a shuttle and be on the water as little as a few hours. A majority of the river is banked by private property, but there are public take outs, such as the Fort Klamath County Park. The Wood River can be paddle boarded, kayaked or coned, but isn’t suitable for bigger boats because of its varying depth.

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As it ends, the Wood River flows into the Wood River Wetlands and then into Agency Lake. This area is worthy of a trip in itself, but bring the bug spray! The Wetlands are 26 miles north of Klamath Falls, off of Modoc Point Rd.

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Contact Christy Snook and Let’s Paddle! of Fort Klamath for awesome rentals and shuttle rates!

 

Mary Jane Feetham

 

 

Bicycling in Bend

Bicycling in Bend

Bend is a very special place to me three hours from Medford. For a small city, it is very much about outdoor activity, and the way the town is laid out, promotes that. The Deschutes River runs through it, perfect for water play opportunities such as rafting or kayaking. The town is surrounded by awesome forests and geological sites, which means there are plenty places to hike. And biking is a big thing!

I love bicycles and I use to ride them every day. Before children and before I turned 30, of course. But living my life to the fullest sometimes means getting back on that long lost horse. And just like they tell you, bike riding is a breeze to pick back up even years later.

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I made the decision to ride an electric bike for two reasons: I have never done it before and I was not sure I was in good enough shape to bike 2 children for long distances.

After a little bit of research I found Bend Electric Bikes. They are home of the latest, greatest electric bike models and are extremely affordable. We paid $40 for each bike and were set up to carry 2 children each. The bikes convert to carry all sizes of children, so it was very neat that my 9 year old son and both of my children under 2 were able to be accommodated, as was my 5 year old niece.

Ultimately I could not have been happier about my decision. Getting places was easy on an electric bike. When I saw a hill ahead, I simply reached down and turned the “assist” up a notch. Biking around Bend was a breeze. There is a network of trails leading around and out of town, from mountain biking trails to large, paved paths along the Deschutes River.

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Between my sister and I, we had 4 children and 2 electric bikes. And it could not have been possible without the extra help an electric bike provides. I still got a work out, but I was not inhibited by my lack of “bike muscles” when we chose our routes. There are many nice parks down town to stop and break at and the food is everywhere in Bend!

We will be back to explore Bend further on the bicycle and I love that my children are able to enjoy this great activity with me, thanks to the wonderful staff and equipment at Bend Electric Bikes and my wonderful sister, Claire!

Mary Jane Feetham

Oregon Coast Beach Hopping

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When there is good weather on the Oregon Coast, there is paradise within three hours of the Rogue Valley. There are many excellent beach choices. Knowing you may not make it back for a while, sometimes it’s nice to beach hop! A great drive from Medford takes you along the infamous Hwy 199 to the 101. Heading north on the 101, a great stop is Harris Beach just outside of Brookings, Oregon.

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Harris Beach is a great place to get out and run around. It is a soft sandy beach with plenty of room to roam. The rocky backdrop allows for some private seating and protection if the wind decides to kick up. There is a restroom located in the parking lot. There is a set of stairs from the parking lot, but they are well made and wide enough for three kids and a whole picnic to get down.

There are spectacular formations throughout the coast line, and Harris Beach showcases some of the most unique rock features. It is a great place to let the kids roam. From Medford, Harris Beach State Park is only two and a half hours away.

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From the Brookings, area, Gold Beach is a mere half hour drive. Gold Beach offers a wide-open, soft sandy beach with grassy dunes buffering the highway.

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It is also an excellent place to look for agates. Agates are abundant throughout the West Coast, but I have been rock hounding for a few years and I have never found agates with as much ease as I do in Gold Beach. I have never gone home empty handed. A great web site I consult before heading out on a rock hunt is Rock Hounding 101.

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From Gold Beach, Bandon is one hour North on the 101.  Bandon is one of Oregon’s best beach towns, and food places, in my opinion. There are a few tourist traps in Old Town Bandon to be weary of if you are watching your pocketbook, such as the Old Fudge Factory. However, there are many unique gift shops such as the Cranberry Sweets shop, where free samples are hidden all throughout the store and the homemade products they sell are actually reasonable. And Bandon boasts some of the best Fish and Chips on the West Coast. Right on the bay, next to all of these shops, is an epic boardwalk full of one of a kind art pieces and an excellent view.

The beaches of Bandon are worth the drive alone. It is where to go to view tide pools and it is best to hit low tide so you can access all of them. Otherwise, it is nice to sit in the sand and watch the waves roll in.

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From Bandon, you can take 42 East to Winston. It is a beautiful drive through Camas Valley. It connects to I-5 in Winston and takes about 3 hrs to get back to the Rogue Valley. Although a long day trip, it is definitely one that will make lasting memories and remind you what a special place Oregon’s coast is.

Mary Jane Feetham

 

Lake of the Woods

About 45 minutes from down town Medford, is a wonderland of family adventure opportunities. It is a great place to get away for the day!

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A while back, I was given an opportunity to live on Lake of the Woods for a year. It was then that I realized how many adventures were available year round at our high mountain lakes. I spent the summer sun bathing and swimming. Late summer was time for huckleberry picking. The fall brought on oyster mushrooms and shaggy mane mushrooms and great sunsets. I snowshoed, x-country skied, and sledded the winter away. Spring, like now, is when everything opens back up and gives way to hiking, biking, and some pretty good Rainbow trout fishing as well.

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I take my children hiking on the trails located right off of the resort. They are easy, level, well-marked paths. Our family favorite is the trail between Lake of the Woods and Fish Lake, about 7 miles. It is an epic adventure that takes you through the evidence of volcanic activity from the Mt Mazama eruption, and travels among old growth pines and firs. Excellent food and lake time awaits you either way you go. Both of the lakes boast good food and swimming access at the Resort.

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There are several ways to enjoy Lake of the Woods for free as well. Unless otherwise marked, parking directly off of the road on Forest Service land, not resort property, is perfectly legal. The Forest Service governs the land the lake sits on, from Dead Indian Memorial Hwy to 140 to Brown Mountain Rd. The Resort is well marked and has fee parking within their facility property. The trails can be located out of Rainbow Bay, the Lodge area, and Aspen Point.

 

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Before the summer rush hits, it is a beautiful place to come walk in the woods. Lake of the Woods resort opened May 1st this year, and is now open daily. There is still a few packs of snow here and there, but the winter seems to have melted away, and the roads are in great condition.

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Lake of the Woods is an amazing place to take the children to play in the woods and water.

Mary Jane Feetham

 

 

Fossil Hunting Near Gold Beach

Gold Beach is approximately three hours from the Rogue Valley and is an excellent choice for a day trip. This area is rich with easy to find marine fossils . . . if you know where to look!

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My children love to dig through the silty soft sedimentary rock faces you can find among the road cuts along Bear Camp Rd. Although I am not an experienced geologist, the sedimentary rock faces are easy to distinguish.

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With a simple rock pick, you can pull egg-like nodules from these sites. They were ranging from the size of robin’s eggs to a small fist size and they are much harder than the surrounding fossilized sea bed.

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Once you loosen them them, you simply pluck them out. Use a rock hammer to pop them open. The organic material is encased in the harder sediment. We found crabs and a lobster and a lot of indistinguishable vegetation matter. After drying the open nodules, you can apply a polyurethane coating to preserve the exposed fossil.

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Our fossils are currently drying . . . more pictures to come. Check out this great family activity. It’s as simple and affordable as driving to a sedimentary rock face or road cut. They are prevalent in the Northwest!

Mary Jane Feetham

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