Active Adventure: Take in Trails and Theater and More in Ashland

Updated March 25, 2019

It’s a place where Shakespeare meets ski trails, where art galleries and Southern Oregon University meet the nearby Rogue River’s whitewater, and where hiking trails rise and fall and wind all around. It’s Ashland, a unique southern Oregon city that offers everything from fine theatre performances at the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival to killer mountain biking, hiking and rock climbing on its namesake peak eight miles away.

Never been? Have no fear. Our Active Adventure guide to Ashland will get you pointed in the right direction.


There’s plenty of trail mileage to take in just outside the city. Grizzly Peak, a 6-mile roundtrip hike, offers expansive views of the entire Rogue Valley as well as the southern Cascades. The White Rabbit Trail is also a local favorite for hikers and bikers; you can take an easy 1.7-mile roundtrip walk to a bench viewpoint, or make a 5-mile loop out of the entire trail.

Want to stick in town? It’s hard to beat Lithia Park, a 93-acre jewel lined with scenic and easy walking trails along Ashland Creek.



For pedaling in Ashland, it doesn’t get much better than the ride through the Bear Creek Greenway, an 18-mile paved trail that runs from Ashland to Central Point, passing through Talent, Phoenix and Medford on the way.

Those looking for a more rugged ride will find it on the 30-mile Mt. Ashland Trail or the nearby Bull Gap Trail, which is a fire road that offers nice views and speedy runs down the mountain.


The Rogue River is a great family trip or could be adapted for an adventurer’s plow through whitewaters. Either way, you’ll see wildlife. The region is home to bald eagles and bears.

In the fall, flat-water paddlers will find lovely colors and Cascade views from Howard Prairie Lake, Hyatt Lake and Emigrant Lake, all within a half hour of Ashland.



Not surprisingly, the Ashland area is home to some stellar climbing crags for rock hounds of all levels. There’s nice bouldering near Lithia Park, at the Ashland Boulders. Mt. Ashland also has several sport climbing areas near its summit formation and in a bowl north of the main parking area. More than 100 routes, many suited for more experienced climbers, can be found about an hour away in the remote Rattlesnake Crags.



Now isn’t quite the time, but winter will be here before you know it. When it arrives, Ashland can make a great ski getaway: the Mt. Ashland Ski Area offers 220 acres of skiable terrain and 23 different runs, plus open bowl skiing.

Header photo courtesy Jeff Hitchcock via Flickr. Shakespeare Festival photo courtesy of Star 5112 via Flickr. Fall foliage in Ashland photo courtesy of  Ian Sane. Rogue River photo courtesy of Bureau of Land Management via Flickr. Ashland rolling hills photo courtesy of Angelo DeSantis via Flickr.

Jon Bell

Jon Bell writes about the outdoors, fitness, health, and a range of other topics from his home in Lake Oswego, OR. He is also the author of "On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon's Perilous Peak."

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