Sterling Mine Ditch Trail
Medford District | OR
Season Dates: 1/1 - 12/31
Fees: No fees Associated with this site.
Attractions: From February to May, the trail is an excellent place for wildflower viewing. The fairly low elevation loop trail is usually snow free during the winter.History: Gold was discovered on Sterling Creek in 1854. The first gold was easily removed by panning. Eventually, the greatest success was achieved with hydraulic mining, which uses a powerful jet of water from a hydraulic giant to wash out gold lying under layers of soil and rock. Ditch construction began in 1877 to bring water from the Little Applegate to operate hydraulic giants. The Sterling Mining Company was the contractor. A 26.5 mile long ditch, three feet deep, was completed in December, 1877. Up to 400 workers, many of them Chinese laborers were employed to construct the ditch. The ditch was in use through the 1930s. Trail Length Bear Gulch loop = 4.1 miles Tunnel Ridge loop = 6.1 miles Sterling Mine Ditch loop = 8.4 miles
From Jacksonville, follow Hwy 238 to Ruch. Turn left on Upper Applegate Road. Continue for 4.0 miles, and then turn left on Little Applegate Road. In 3.0 miles, you will see the historic town site of Buncom on your left, here the Little Applegate Road veers to the right. Continue on this road. After 6.0 miles, the Bear Gulch Trailhead will be on your left. If you continue less than 1.0 mile further on Little Applegate Road, Tunnel Ridge trailhead is on the left. The road widens enough for parking across from the trailhead. A trail from the parking area down to the creek leads to the Tunnel Ridge gold panning and recreational dredging site.