Hey all – Alivia here to talk about some of my favorite outdoor areas in and around Ashland, Oregon! The seemingly endless greenery of the Southern Oregon/PNW area definitely goes unmatched. To attend Southern Oregon University and ignore the opportunities of adventure would be an absolute travesty. If you are looking for some outdoor activities to do your options are in abundance here in the Ashland area. The beauty of SOU’s surroundings always seems surreal to me; not a day goes by where I don’t come across a view that leaves me amazed. No matter the season here there is always something to do within the walls of the great outdoors. Especially with the help of the awesome Outdoor Program we have here at SOU, a great adventure experience couldn’t get much easier to access. With OP’s help, you are able to rent out any gear you may possibly need to make the most out of your experiences, with super amazing deals to boot! You could also sign up for one of their guided trips. Here are just a couple of outdoor sites you can go check out both near and far!
- Acid Castles: This hike is a classic here in Ashland – it isn’t too difficult of an expedition and the views are breathtaking. People really enjoy exploring around all the rocks and will often go on runs through the trails. I highly recommend you try to do this hike for either a sunrise or sunset at some point since it isn’t super hard to get to the top.
- Grizzly Peak: Grizzly is definitely a more challenging hiking experience; however, the view at the top makes it all worth it. Reaching the top means a promised reward of Jell-O legs and an endless beautiful view.
- Lower Table Rock/Upper Table Rock: Fun fact: these hikable plateaus were actually formed by lava flow from a volcanic eruption about seven million years ago! It isn’t a relatively difficult hike and upon arrival at the top, you’ll be able to see all the green views Oregon has to offer.
- Roxy Ann Peak: The top of Roxy Ann definitely has one of the craziest views. This hike is a split between grasslands and tree-tunneled trails. You are also able to bring your furry friends along on this hike for some company. My favorite time to take this hike is in the spring when the wildflowers are all in full bloom.
- Lithia Park: Lithia Park is easily one of my favorite places to roam in Ashland. I am not sure if there is anything you can’t do here, there is truly something for everyone and anyone. No matter the time of year, the environment and natural wonders there are spectacular. You can go here to relax in the fields, walk/hike/bike through the trails, enjoy any of the musical performances, or simply admire the views. There are so many more options to choose from as well, you’re never going to regret any time you spend there.
- Emigrant Park: Other than the obvious fun of Emigrant Lake, the park also has a campsite and trails to explore. One of the trails actually leads up to hanging nets where you are able to climb in and take in the views quite comfortably. It is a pretty unique experience though sometimes getting to the nets can be a bit difficult.
- Garfield Park: Garfield is always a fun time with its playground, beach volleyball court, waterpark during the warmer seasons, and BBQ space. It is a great spot to hang out with friends and meet new people. Everyone is always super welcoming and willing to join in on a volleyball game or BBQ-type game.
- North Mountain Park: North Mountain is a great place to go for a walk or run, relax, or join in on a pick-up game of soccer. There are also baseball/softball games played there that you can watch and a playground if you’re trying to mess around on some swings.
- Emigrant Lake: Emigrant is a true staple as a college student in Ashland. The warmer season always promises a fun scene to join. You can go for a swim, jump from rocks, rent a paddleboard or kayak from Outdoor Program and take it out, or even do some fishing if you are able to get a pass.
- Lake of the Woods: The drive to the lake of the woods is an adventure all by itself. I love soaring through the tree-lined road listening to some good-vibes music. During the warmer season, this place is pretty packed and they even offer live music and BBQ food on some days throughout the summer at the nearby resort. It is a really chill place to float on the water and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
- Rogue River: If you are looking for a place to go floating, Rogue River is the place for you. You can do anything from a light tube float to a rafting trip here, the options vary.
- Oredson Todd Woods Waterfalls: This is definitely more of a hike with forest-lined trails. Here is the twist – for the cherry on top there are also amazing waterfalls and creeks along the way. So rather than a crazy view, your effort is rewarded with some fun water features.
- Shasta Lake: It’s about a two-hour trip to this well-known hot spot. Hot weather promises endless fun with the dazzling natural waters of Shasta Lake. Summertime means it’ll be full of boats, jet skis, and any other means of water sport entertainment.
- Brookings: This drive is closer to 3 hours but the beach views are well worth it. Brookings has a variety of beach fronts to choose from based on your own preferences. There’s also plenty of unique seafood restaurants to try out!
- Illinois River: This spot is definitely one for the adrenaline junkies out there. It takes a little over an hour to get there and it’s a bit of a trek out to the river. But with a wicked bridge and plenty of big rocks to climb, the high jumps prove to be plentiful. Your options vary all along the river and if you’d rather just relax in the water, there are little sites to chill in as well.
- Bend/Sunriver: Bend and nearby Sunriver is the ultimate adventure wonderland. There’s everything you could ever want. It’s located about 3 hours away from Ashland and the options for fun are unlimited. There are stunning hikes, the river to float or raft down, restaurants to try, shops to check out, and so much more! There’s also a ton of places to stay including lodges, hotels, resorts, campsites, and Airbnbs.
- Crater Lake National Park: “It’s pretty sick” -Noah Addie
Crater lake is about an hour and a half out and is filled with water so clear it reflects all of its surroundings. Though you can’t always get to the lake, climbing the trails will enable you to capture the full essence of the park’s beauty in all of its entirety. It’s a remarkable experience I would highly recommend!
Before you embark on any outdoor adventure, make sure you research the current conditions, including weather, road conditions, and site closures or restrictions.