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The Bandersnatch Trail – An Ashland Watershed Trail

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The Bandersnatch Trail – An Ashland Watershed Trail

By Andy Harris

If you haven’t noticed, many of the trails in the Ashland Watershed are named after the wonderful stories created by Lewis Carroll. There’s the Alice in Wonderland trail, the White Rabbit Trail, the Caterpillar Trail, the Looking Glass Loop and the Queen of Hearts Loop. Given this information, a creative name like The Bandersnatch should come as no surprise.

For those wondering, the Bandersnatch is a character found in Carroll’s novels “Through the Looking-Glass” and “What Alice Found There”, as well as in the 2010 Hollywood movie of “Alice in Wonderland”. While the Bandersnatch appears in the movie as a large, ferocious creature under the control of the evil and mischievous Red Queen, this trail is anything but ferocious. In fact, it is one of the most gorgeous trails, with fantastic views (including views of Mt. Ashland) and it is easily accessible from town. If you are staying downtown or near to downtown, this is an ideal hike to explore leaving right from your door!

There are a couple of ways to approach the trail, like most of the trails in the Ashland Watershed. You can either start from the top, off of the Alice in Wonderland trail, or you can begin at the bottom, from the back end of Lithia Park.

I have hiked it from both directions and here is the biggest difference; if you start from Lithia Park, you spend much of your time increasing in elevation, with a relatively quick and steep decline back towards town. Or, you can get the blood flowing and knock out the roughly 1000 foot incline in the first, say, 45 minutes and then enjoy the leisurely, rolling decline through the prettiest part of the trail.

Since I really prefer the latter, that is the way I’ll guide you in this article. The first thing to do is to hike up to the bottom of the Alice in Wonderland trail. The trail is located off Ashland Loop Road as you ascend from town. The Alice in Wonderland trail link has directions from town if you are unclear how to get there. Beware that there are mountain bikers cruising along the Alice in Wonderland trail, so please do proceed with caution (there is no mountain biking on the Bandersnatch).

Towards the top of Alice in Wonderland, there is a wooden post clearly marking the beginning of the Bandersnatch Trail. As you veer off to the right and onto the trail, you will almost immediately start to catch stunning views of the valley of the Siskiyou Mountains that lead up toward Mt. Ashland.

View of Mount Ashland from Bandersnatch Trail

View of Mount Ashland from Bandersnatch Trail

As you further descend, most of the hike will be downhill, often with views of soaring vultures, chipmunks, lizards, deer and other assorted creatures moving through the trees. You will pass the mountain biking BTI trail a couple of times and the trails are always very clearly marked.

On top of the last ridge before your final descent to the very back of Lithia Park, there is a picnic table sitting beneath a ring of trees. It is the perfect spot to rest, refuel and soak up the surrounding beauty. It’s also a great spot to visit with friends or family where you can enjoy a picnic off the beaten track or if you don’t have the time or desire to hike the entire trail. There are no bathrooms or trash service though, so you’ll have to pack out whatever you pack in.

After your rest, you’ll end the trail with a quick descent down to the road that circles around Lithia Park. If you’d like, take a right and it will take you back into town. If you want to head back to town through Lithia Park, turn left and it will take you to the Lithia Park swimming reservoir and bathrooms and, of course, the variety of trails that lead back into town.

Enjoy the Bandersnatch, we are sure you will find it beautiful, peaceful and a great place to spend a few hours away from it all.

Difficulty: Moderate

Directions: From the downtown plaza, head southeast down Main St. to Pioneer St. Take a right and head up just past the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and at the fork, follow the center road, the appropriately-named Fork St.  Continue along Fork St. above Lithia Park, where it will turn into Glenview Dr. Before Lithia Park ends, take a left and head uphill on Ashland Loop Rd. When you see Ashland Loop Rd. intersect with Morton St. continue up Ashland Loop Rd a few hundred feet where you’ll see the Alice in Wonderland trailhead on the right. Head up the Alice in Wonderland trail until you see the small wooden sign post for the Bandersnatch trailhead.

Outdoor Recreation Safety Note: Please be sure to read our safety note on our Outdoor Recreation home page.

Bandersnatch Trailhead

Sign for the Bandersnatch Trailhead

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