There are a number of southwestern Oregon hikes available for all experience levels. Review the length and elevation to determine which trail is the best suited to your available time and skill level.
Southwestern Oregon Hikes
Brice Creek Trail
The Brice Creek trail is located in the Umpqua National Forest and ranges from three to ten miles long depending upon which spur you choose. Open year round, the Brice Creek trail is suitable for novice hikers if you take the three and one-half mile portion of the trail that starts along the creek. Expect to see old growth forests and small pools during this portion of the trail.For the more experienced or physically fit hikers, choose to continue along the trail for another two and one-half mile loop to the Upper Trestle Falls. This hike has a moderate elevation so spend time resting at the top of this spectacular waterfall before making your way back down. For a step back in time, choose the Lower Falls Grotto detour approximately one-third of a mile past the initial turn off to Upper Trestle Falls. There you will see mist rising from the pool at the bottom of the lower falls. All the Brice Creek trails are open year round and are popular with hikers and mountain bikers alike.
Sky Lakes Trail
Sky Lakes trail is located in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and is an easy six mile round trip hike. The elevation gain is only 100 feet so even novice hikers should feel comfortable taking this hike. The first two and one-half miles of the Sky Lakes trail takes you through a grassy meadow before opening onto the beautiful panorama of Island Lake. This 40 acre lake is only the first of many on this trail. After passing Island Lake, travel another one-half mile to arrive at Dee Lake. At only 16 acres, Dee Lake is one of the best spots along this hiking trail to stop and dip your toes. Swimming is allowed but at your own risk since there are no lifeguards.If you are not interested in swimming, you can listen and watch for a glimpse of the Pacific tree frog which makes its home in the area around Dee Lake. On the other side of Dee Lake you will enter the Sky Lake Wilderness area and hike just over a mile to get to Center Lake on your left and Badger Lake on your right. The trail then winds around these lakes and puts you back at Island Lake where you follow the trail back to where you started.
Soda Mountain Trail
Soda Mountain trail is located in Medford District and is part of the Pacific Crest Trail which runs through several Oregon counties. Though this trail is only a five mile hike, it is extremely challenging due to the 2000 feet elevation gain and should be undertaken by experienced hikers only.The trail is not open in the winter due to the adverse weather conditions so if you plan to hike this trail in the late fall, make sure you check the weather forecast first. The trail starts at the base of Pilot Rock and follows along the rock face for approximately one and one-half miles until you reach Porcupine Gap which is part of the Scotch Creek Research Natural Area. Continue up until you reach the accessible elevation where you can view streams running through a steep canyon down the other side of the mountain. This part of Soda Mountain is protected as part of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument for its unique ecological climate.
Regardless of the southwestern Oregon hikes you decide to undertake, make sure you are prepared. Sufficient water, proper shoes, sunscreen and energy bars should be included. Being prepared will make your hike more enjoyable and should help prevent problems in the unlikely event you are delayed returning to your car.