Our Favorite Ashland Parks Not Named Lithia
Our Favorite Ashland Parks Not Named Lithia
By Andy Harris
Lithia Park has captured the heart of the Ashland community and leaves visitors with a lush impression of our picturesque town. While Ashland has many special and beautiful parks, none quite match up to Lithia Park’s size, plant variety, and diverse recreational options. Its central location makes it easy to visit on a casual stroll through town, and its variety of trails make for a range of accessible walks or hikes.
Lithia Park also carries with it a significant history, with the Shasta Indians as the earliest inhabitants of the extensive area surrounding the Ashland Creek, the Women’s Civic Improvement Club catalyzing the park’s creation in 1908 and the fact that San Francisco’s world renown Golden Gate Park landscape architect John McLaren was also Lithia’s designer.¹
Beyond these items, it’s simply as complete and gorgeous a park as you will find anywhere in town, with a concert bandshell, duck ponds, a playground, miles of hiking trails, the Ashland Creek, tennis courts, a Japanese garden and much more.
It’s true that Ashland’s park system might start with Lithia Park, yet it certainly does not end there. The town has an abundance of parks to enjoy, which we display on the “Parks” page of our website. So without further ado, here’s our list of our favorite parks in Ashland – in no particular order.
Please be sure to add your favorite parks and input into the comments section below!
Located on the north side of Ashland, Ashland Ponds is a wonderful spot for a short walk, while enjoying the sights and sounds that having year round water brings to the park. The birding is excellent and the Cascade and Siskiyou mountains provide a lovely backdrop.
Walking the entire, relatively flat, loop takes roughly 20 minutes making this a perfect park to visit for when time short and/or the motivation for a longer walk is low. This is also a nice visit for those that may not find Ashland’s hilly trails very accessible.
Garfield Park’s huge, green and grassy lawn is perfect for playing games, having a picnic, or sitting down with a friend for a long overdue conversation. The park’s front and center views of the Siskiyous make it a delight especially at sunset.
It’s also quite centrally located right off Main St. and close to Siskiyou Blvd., about 2/3 of a mile from the center of town, and right along the bike path’s route.
Garfield Park features sand volleyball courts, a basketball court, a great playground and a “Zero-Depth Water Facility”, which is great fun for families during the heat of summer.
This lesser known gem looms high up above town and boasts beautiful views and solitude. Perhaps you want to go for a hike with a view, but you don’t want to hike too far. Maybe you want to take your out of town guests to watch the sun drop over the mountains and to experience 360 degree views of the valley, but you are short on time. Or, you simply want to get into nature and enjoy the peace of the surrounding landscape after a long day. Well then, this is your park.
Located up the hill northwest from downtown off Grandview Dr., Hald/Strawberry Park offers few frills, but lots of beauty and a variety of trails to explore. The time from the unmarked park entrance parking lot up to the look-out at the top of the hill requires roughly 15 minutes of walking. The time spent at the top enjoying the views is up to you.
Railroad Park is a narrow and long park, with a few special features such as a basketball court, gazebo with picnic tables and small playground, but the views of Grizzly Peak and the Cascades from its small, grassy lawn is what we most admire. The lawn is big enough to throw a frisbee and certainly large enough to lay down on a blanket and soak up the sun and the view.
Railroad Park is aptly located in the Railroad District where a golden spike was driven in 1887 to complete the railway connecting the north and south.
North Mountain Park
North Mountain Park is as much like Lithia Park as any in town in that it offers the second widest variety of things to enjoy and see.
The entire south end of the park is dedicated to soccer and baseball fields. The north end of the park is dedicated to nature and education, which makes it a particularly fine park for children. Bear Creek runs along the park’s edge, and the Nature Center, trails and Native American Display engage the entire family.
When visiting North Mountain Park, we suggest combining your visit with a short walk into Riverwalk Park just across the street and along the creek. There is a small pond in this latter park, and if you are quiet, you may see some water fowl. Walk to the end of the park for a pleasant opportunity to visit Bear Creek.
This park is a personal favorite, mostly in its small town quaintness and how it reminds me of parks from my travels in Europe and South America. The park has a beautiful gazebo in the middle of it and some built in posts for slack-lining.
Located on Siskiyou Blvd., it can be a bit noisy, but it’s a great spot to meet up with friends in the gazebo for a conversation amidst the trees and shade on a hot day.