Lithia Park

Ashland Creek in Lithia Park

  • Easy (Lithia Park)
  • 2.8 miles round-trip
  • 260 feet elevation gain
  • Open all year

  • Difficult (Ashland Loop Road)
  • 28.4-mile loop
  • 3180 feet elevation gain
  • Open April through November
  • Use: bicycles

Before settling down to a play at Ashland’s Shakespearean Festival, theater-goers often stretch their legs with a stroll through Lithia Park, a woodsy canyon with duck-filled lakes and the tumbling little falls of bouldery Ashland Creek. But there’s room here for more than just a stroll. A hiking trail continues upstream 1.5 miles to a swimmable reservoir. And if you’re on a mountain bike, you can tackle a challenging 28-mile loop that circles the entire Ashland Creek watershed to the edge of Mt. Ashland itself. Dogs are banned only in Lithia Park.

After gold rush miners found gold near Jacksonville in 1851, they found a different treasure here—water. By 1852, Southern Oregon’s first lumber mill was using Ashland Creek’s power to saw boards for the mines. In 1893, when the Chautauqua movement began bringing lectures and plays to rural areas of Oregon, the creek’s campable woods became a regular stop. In 1908, the esteemed architect who designed San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park was hired to lay out the curving paths, pools, picnic lawns, and gardens of Lithia Park. In 1935, local college professor Angus Bowmer converted an abandoned Chautauqua building into a replica of Shakespeare’s open-air Globe theater and launched the tradition of performing plays beside the park.

To drive here …

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon.