Hiking in Southern Oregon

by Nancy Bestor

Bob and I try to get our family out hiking in and around the Rogue Valley several times a year. We’ve also had some great treks on our travels: in Switzerland, France, and even Thailand. Some of our favorite rambles, however, are close to home. We’re fortunate that Southern Oregon is home to lots of fun trails. Much to the delight of our teenage daughters, we encourage them (drag them really) to a couple of our favorite spots every year in the spring, summer or early fall. Lower Table Rock, just north of Medford, is always beautiful in the late spring, when the wildflowers are blooming. We always take a picnic lunch and sit on the edge, enjoying both our meal and the breathtaking bird’s eye view of Central Point and Medford.

On Top of Grizzly Peak (with Bob growing a tree out of his head)

Grizzly Peak, which we can see from our living room windows, is another favorite. The remnants of a large fire about 10 years ago showcase just how the forest can rebuild itself at the top of this peak.

Our latest favorite, however, is the Castle Lake to Heart Lake hike in the Mt. Shasta region of Northern California. The hike itself is not too strenuous (2.2 miles roundtrip, with a 600 feet elevation gain), and the views of Mount Shasta and Castle Lake are outstanding. Our friend Jim introduced to this hike several years ago, and on our most recent visit, he and his wife joined us for a fun day of hiking, canoeing, and swimming. We ended the day by eating an early dinner at an Italian restaurant that time forgot. While Mt. Shasta’s old school Piemont Restaurant isn’t the finest Italian food I’ve had, the ravioli were very good, and it sure made me more than a little nostalgic for the Italian eateries I ate at as a kid. Soup, salad and an antipasti plate all served family-style followed by a main course and followed up with dessert and coffee included all for one very attractive low price.

A View of Heart Lake with Mt. Shasta in the Background

We began our family hiking adventures on many of these local trails when our girls were quite young, and my only hope is that Sarah will one day be blessed with children who when she is hiking with them will ask her over and over again to be carried. Payback, as they say, is a bitch.