During the covid pandemic, I wanted to get away. I wanted somewhere within a 4-5 hour drive of the Bay Area (North of SF) so my old pup could come along that had hiking (at the least). After looking at maps and Airbnb’s available, I decided on Ashland, Oregon.
Now I’ve been to Oregon multiple times – Portland, Crater Lake (gigantic fail in April 2017), Bend, Columbia Gorge, and Canon Beach but have never even stopped in Southern Oregon. And I fell in love.
July is H.O.T. in Southern Oregon, but I was ready for it. Also the famous Shakespeare festival was closed due to the pandemic (as was most indoor dining, which was fine by me) so I had to get a little creative for my 10 days there but I did not run out of things to do or see.
First Saturday morning I took a run to Lithia Park (I stayed at an Airbnb close to downtown). Lithia Park is where all the viral photographs of Ashland come from. Beautiful yet crowded (people, where were your masks?!) and on Saturdays they have a lovely artisan farmers market. I bought much jewelry and pottery at the market and stores nearby. Also during the pandemic (so unsure if regular thing) there were outdoor beer, tequila and food tents set-up. So much fun!
Lots and lots of restaurants to chose from in Ashland. My favorites for brunch/lunch were Little Shop of Bagels (nice park nearby as well), Breadboard (omg the french toast), Sammich, and Rubys (known for their breakfast burritos). By far my favorite dinner was at Kobe and below at Creekside Pizza Bistro. Caldera Brewing had great brews and takeaway beer options.
Rogue Valley is also known for its wineries – I visited two, Weisinger and Belle Fiore.
Weisinger – love love love…all of the whites were fantastic as were the pinots. They had a cute outside area overlooking a small vineyard.
Belle Fiore – Served Italian style wines (not my favorite) but they are open later and serve dinner as well as have nightly entertainment.
Of course, I went hiking while in Ashland. Aside from a trip to Crater Lake (post on that later) I also hiked and ran some of the trails in Rogue Valley.
Oredson Wilderness has the true PNW moody, foggy feel to it and is super close to downtown Ashland. So many trails to chose from for hikers, runners, and mountain bikers that have little viewpoints of the surrounding mountains, Mt Shasta and Hood on good days. There is a pretty long dirt road to get to the main trailhead but there are a few trailheads prior to it if you have a more “delicate” car.
The trail names are probably the best thing about this area. From Jabberwocky to White Rabbit to Red Queen it is super entertaining. But my personal favorite part is that the majority of trails are split up for cyclists or hiker/runner. I wish all trails had this!
Grizzly Peak is a bit further from downtown Ashland and looks over Rogue Valley. Don’t worry, no actual grizzlies here but the hike gives full 360 views and lots of variety from forests to the burned areas of the valley.
Needless to say, I will be back Ashland!