Iwas thankful to be able to return to visit Lithia Park with my cousin Debbie (shown in this photo), when we were visiting near there last week.
The park is located in Ashland, Oregon, and is made up of 93 acres of forested canyonland. This is one of the duck ponds located in the park, where people can enjoy watching the wildlife, or simply "reflecting on the reflections" of the still water.
There is a large playground, which I was glad to see being enjoyed by several families, on the beautiful Saturday morning in August when my cousin and I visited.
The park also contains individual and group picnic sites. Although we were not picnicking, the tables served as a platform for putting the camera on self-timer to take a photo of both of us!
One will also find tennis courts and sand volleyball courts within the park.
This bandshell can be rented for private events, and was the location of the 2014 high school graduation for the Ashland school.
Though all of the above amenities are nice additions to the park, the REAL reason I wanted to go was to explore the hiking trails. My son had taken me to the park over a decade ago, but we did not go very far back into the canyon on that visit, and I was curious to see where the trails would lead!
However, when we saw this sign at the entrance of the trails----warning us that there had been a black bear sighting the day before---I wondered about the wisdom of continuing!
Nonetheless, we saw lots of other people along the trail (and they did not seem to be showing any noticeable bear claw scratches!), so we decided to proceed!
I was glad to see so many children along the trail with their parents, and none of them seemed too concerned about the bear sighting notice!
The park surrounds Ashland Creek, that runs from its headwaters near Mt. Ashland, through downtown Ashland. Although visitors are asked not to swim in the creek, there are no rules against enjoying the pleasures of a babbling brook in the center of town!
This is one of several bridges that cross the creek along the hiking trail.
We came across an "amphitheater" of sorts, with this backdrop made of large stones and foliage, and practiced giving a performance to the imaginary guests in the semicircle of stone that surrounded us.
I read that some of the trees in the park were planted by the WPA of the Great Depression Era. Judging from the height of the evergreen in this photo, this may be one of those half-century old trees!
We also saw a grove of pine seedlings that seemed to be thriving beside the creek.
Lithia Park was designed by John McLaren in 1914. McLaren is the same landscape architect that designed the San Francisco Golden Gate Park.
The park has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982.
This humongous burned out tree trunk has been made into something resembling a "Throne Chair", that I could not pass trying out!
Debbie and I came across these two sisters taking photos of each other in the "Valley of Cairns", so Debbie graciously volunteered to get a photo of both of them together.
Rock cairns are simply manmade piles of stones, and are often used as trail markers around the world.
The greenery was lush and beautiful for this August, but the photos of autumn in Lithia Park that I have seen on the Internet, make me want to return in different seasons to take a whole new set of photographs!
Many of the plantings have placards beside them that tell their common and scientific name. However, we could not find such a placard for this tree, so I am simply calling it "CURLY!"
Debbie and I stayed mostly on the lower hiking trail that parallels the creek. There are numerous side trails that lead up the side of the mountain, but some of them were lined with poison ivy/poison oak (as shown in this photo), so we did not explore them very much!
The Elders Memorial Shelter provides a covered spot for events that can be arranged with the park administration ( www.AshlandChamber.com ). This shelter has seen many a happy celebration!
Theshelter is also the location of a drinking fountain that contains minerals, including lithium, for which the park is named. As you can see from my NOT "Miles of smiles" face, I am a little bit hesitant about trying it, since my son told me it tasted similar to licking a lithium camera battery.
Since I had never licked the lithium battery in my camera, I decided to give it a taste. I immediately felt my mood stabilize (LOL!), since lithium is one of the components of pharmaceuticals, used to stabilize patients who are bipolar.
When you include listening to the street musicians throughout the park, with a drink from the mood-stabilizing lithium spring water, you can see why this park is a wonderful retreat for the stressed out soul!
Adjacent to the park is a miniversion of the San Antonio Riverwalk, with an Artisans' area, as well as several restaurants offering creekside dining. Debbie and I had a delicious lunch beside the flowing stream, after we finished out hike.
Also very close to the park is the Elizabethan Theatre, site of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival ( www.osfashland.org ). People come from far and wide to see talented actors perform these time-tested plays.
A friend of mine recently participated in a weeklong Road Scholar program during the festival, and had a great time! ( www.roadscholar.org )
I think Shakespeare himself would enjoy the way the folks of Ashland pay tribute to his work!
Seeingthe precariously-balanced cairns in the dry creekbed, reminded me of a memory verse from First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) that says, "In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' Tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever." Joshua 4:7 These stones can also be a reminder to pray for the peace of Israel, and that people around the world could experience the type of peace to be found in Lithia Park---a place that gives the visitor "MILES OF SMILES"! Tricia