Dunlop Meadows (Southern Oregon) 28-Apr-2019

Dunlop Meadows are two large meadows in the South Fork – Little Butte Creek drainage, southeast of Dead Indian Soda Springs, and overlooking the South Fork Canyon. My recent exploration of the Soda Springs Trail (USFS #1009) was supposed to include a detour to see the Meadows (USFS #1006) but my enthusiasm faded before I could get that far. The bears might also have had something to do with my foregoing the meadows that day. But today was a new day and I still wanted to see the meadows and the old cabin supposedly sitting in one of them. So, with The LovedOne still busy with Comic Con, I headed out to see the meadows, hoping the bears were now back in Ashland where they belong instead of roaming the woods scaring people. o_O

Getting to the trailhead sounded simple enough. Go east from Ashland on Dead Indian Memorial Highway for 18 miles to the sign, just past Lily Glen Horse Camp, for the Wilderness Trails Youth Camp. Turn left at the sign on to gravel Forest Road (FR) 2500-100 (after the turn there is a large sign for the Dunlop and Soda Springs Trails). Follow this forest road for just under seven miles, staying right at the first fork and left at the second fork (but the main gravel road is obvious), to the unsigned trailhead on the right. I already knew that FR 2500-100 was blocked by a large tree about a mile before the trailhead, so I brought along the bike. What I hadn’t expected were the piles of crusty snow on the road about three miles in from the highway. Only high clearance and 4WD got me through – it’ll be no go for passenger cars until all these snow blobs melt-out.

I parked at FR 2500-185 (the Soda Springs Trailhead) and biked down to the Dunlop Trailhead, lifting the bike over a big fallen tree along the way. There’s no signage to indicate this trailhead, so it took a little searching to find the start of the #1006 just before an open gate.

The #1006 trail starts (arrow) just before an open gate (G) less than seven miles from the highway
The trail to the first meadows is obvious

About a tenth of a mile in from the trailhead, I came to a small sign: trail ahead, meadow to the right. I went right.

Entering the first (upper) meadow
Towering Ponderosa pines overlook new trees starting to reclaim the meadow
The upper meadow a few weeks from peak wildflower season
Corn lilies starting to emerge in the soggier parts of the meadow

On the east side of the upper meadow, I came to the remains of the Dunlop Ranch.  “Old Man Dunlop” is said to have been a settler from the Eagle Point area who squatted here in the 1920s, long before it was accessible by road.  He raised goats and may also have utilized this remote spot to make bootleg whiskey (“moonshine”) during Prohibition.  During the Depression Era of the 1930s, a family named Nickerson got by here raising mohair goats, whose hides were used for car upholstery and convertible tops.  The ranch site has been abandoned since the late 1930s. In its day, it hosted three log buildings: a cabin, a barn, and a shed.  Only log-trimmed outlines remain of the cabin and the barn.  Thanks to the sturdiness of its double log walls insulated with sawdust, the food-cooler section of the shed is the only structure still (mostly) standing.

The shed, now partially collapsed
Southwest end
Southwest doorway detail
Sidewall and log detail
Window detail
Remains of the northeast door
Remains of the barn
Old shoes

After exploring the shed and upper meadow, I continued on down the now less used trail to the end of the second meadow.

The trail wanders past giant cedars and pines
A very tall Ponderosa leans in to the second (lower) meadow
The second (lower) meadow

There used to be signs at the end of this meadow but only their post remains. A little farther on, the now much faded trail skirts an old spur road (FR 2500-195) and, about 0.7 miles from the trailhead, reaches a little footbridge crossing an unnamed tributary of the South Fork. From here, the trail is supposed to continue on down to the South Fork itself but accounts vary as to whether doing so is a walk or an adventure. I decided any further exploration could wait until another day, preferably one during the May through mid-July (late June peak) wildflower season. So, back up the trail, on the bike back to the truck, and out over the snow patches to hike again another day. 🙂

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2 comments

    1. We’re lucky that the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest commissioned (starting in the 1980s) a number of cultural resource studies and oral histories that recorded the history of this area.

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