Sunday, May 20, 2018

Roxy Ann Peak

Roxy Ann Peak is just an insignificant little volcanic cone outside of Medford, but oh the things you can see from on top. The peak resides inside Prescott Park and a network of steep trails can get hikers up to the summit in a jiffy. I don't get out to this park very often as it's hard to get enough hiking mileage to justify the long drive to Medford. However, it's perfect for taking children out for a moderate hike, and I had four children on hand for the day. Might as well wear the grandchildren out on a 6'ish mile hike with 1,000 feet of elevation gain, although they always seem to have energy to fight over who rides in the front seat. But then again, they always seem to have too much energy before, during, and after a hike, now that I think about it.

Tree monkeys
So far, it had been a pretty warm May, but on this day gray clouds hovered over Medford and the tip of Roxy Ann Peak was hidden by the cloud cover. The temperatures were fairly cool and the five of us (me, Daweson, Aiden, Issiah, and Coral Rae) all started hiking with extra layers of clothing for warmth.

I'm not all that familiar with the park layout and the park's website was down so I couldn't look at a trail map beforehand, so we were going to wing it today. However, there are plenty of signboards with maps at trailheads and various trail junctions so I quickly perused the map to plan our route. Meanwhile, Daweson and Aiden were wrestling and trying to give each other head noogies, Issiah was mock swordfighting with my hiking pole, and Coral Rae was playing catch with her water bottle. Given such mature and decorous behavior, well, it seemed like the Greenhorn Trail was the way to go.

Walking through the oaks and poison oaks
There are two basic trails to the summit: short but steep, and long but gradual. The Greenhorn Trail was of the latter category, as it switchbacked to and fro across grassy slopes dotted with oak trees and a daunting amount of poison oak bushes. Gotta give a tip of the hat to my young peeps though, they stayed on trail and avoided the poison oak. Plus, they dutifully stayed together as one group and waited at intersections, seems like they've finally got the hang of following Grandpa's rules. 

Trail on top of the world
After several switchbacks and about a mile of walking, the Greenhorn Trail spit us out onto the road that circumnavigates the (relatively) small symmetrical mound that is Roxy Ann Peak.. A short walk on the road twent past a rock quarry and rounded the southern flank of the peak before the Manzanita Trail heading uphill through the grass, called out to us.

Grizzly Peak was hibernating today
The grade increased noticeably as we neared the summit. Back and forth we went, continually gaining elevation as the trail left the open grassy slopes and entered a forest comprised of oak and madrone which in turn, morphed into a forest comprised of conifers near the summit. The views of southeastern Medford had been stunning at the trailhead but improved with each foot of elevation gained.

Time to ooh and aah
Voila! We finally made it to the summit, where a visually unappealing collection of microwave transmitters, receivers, and satellite dishes did the very important work of ensuring we can send spam text messages to our friends, family, and people we don't even know. But we weren't here for the mountaintop gadgetry, a nearby rocky viewpoint was our destination and reward for all that uphill toil to the Roxy Ann summit.

The view was simply stunning
The kids were suitably awed by the view, whipping our their cell phones to record the event. It gladdens my heart (which my grandchildren state I lack) to see them appreciate a good hike. Before long, they were clambering over the boulders like the rock rabbits they are, exploring the rocky outcrop. Meanwhile, yours truly was photographing the stunning vista laying at our feet.

So rare to see them reposing in peaceful contemplation
The urban sprawl of southern Medford was immediately below our bouldery aerie and on the other side of Bear Creek Valley, rose the forested peaks of the Siskiyou Mountains. The cloud cover had lifted off of the summit of Roxy Ann Peak but the surrounding taller mountains such as Grizzly Peak and Mount Ashland remained hidden from view. (Issiah said my hair was well hidden from view, too. Ouch!) That's OK though, the view of the valley was such that it surely would have been sensory overload had the mountains also been visible. A long and leisurely lunch and view-soak was called for before heading down off the mountain, and we partook thereof.

Massive madrone tree

For additional mileage, we grabbed the Ponderosa Trail which switchbacked down the northwestern side of Roxy Ann. With all the going back and forth, our route wound up resembling a five-armed spider monkey from Saturn. One of the highlights on the descent was a grove of magnificent ancient madrone trees that provided the kids an opportunity to act like five-armed spider monkeys from Saturn, as they swung and hung from the branches.

Tree frog on a tree
All good things come to an end though, and it was a relatively tired bunch of children that closed the loop hike at the trailhead. We engaged, in what is rapidly becoming a tradition, in a robust lunch of Chinese food before getting back in the car and returning to Roseburg. Still had one last argument over who got to sit in the front seat though, in what regrettably, also is becoming a tradition.

The least effective job of camouflage ever!
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


  1. How great that you have grandchildren that like to hike with you!

  2. See you made it to our homeland! Carol says the flower you didn't know is a Blow Wives - that is no joke either....don't go there.