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A day at Lamb Mine Cave

Not many people know about the Lamb Mine Cave, a long, disused gold mine from the 1910s at the end of Toothpick Trail in Ashland
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Benjamin McAnally, Greta Zeve and Ethan McAnally head down the Lamb Mine Trail to the cave. Amelia Zeve photosAmelia Covert Zeve photo
 Posted: 2:00 AM June 23, 2012

Not many people know about the Lamb Mine Cave. It's a long, disused gold mine from the 1910s at the end of Toothpick Trail.

There's something truly intriguing about it. Maybe it's the way the mouth-like entrance reflects in the wet ground. Maybe it's the way that the end of the cave has a sharp smell of shea butter and a hypnotic graffiti spiral. Or maybe it's just the pure adrenaline rush that you get when you peer inside to the darkness. These and other factors add up to an experience greater than anything fabricated at Disney World.

The cave is utterly terrifying in the dark. Creepy drips and the slightest whisper reverberate through the cave, and its sharp twists and turns, plus mysterious pieces of wood, will send you sprawling more than once.

A Summer Day is a series of photo-driven looks at Ashland outdoor activities. If you have an idea, send it to Amelia Covert Zeve at ameliacovertzeve

Hardly a soul dares to venture through it in the blackness. Yet Benjamin McAnally, 13, has done just that.

"The place is so beautiful," he says. "And then when you go into the cave, it's almost surreal. It's like a whole other world in there."

And it is.

The graffiti adds a strange layer, mingling with the dripping salt stalactites and old dynamite holes.

Next time you're in the cave's neck of the woods, be sure to stop by. There's nothing quite like an old cave and some ghost stories to make the old heart pound.

Amelia Covert Zeve is an Ashland-based writer who explores the outdoors and chronicles her adventures for publications. Contact her at

To get to Lamb Mine: From Siskiyou Boulevard, head south (uphill) on Tolman Creek Road for 3.1 miles. The unmarked Toothpick Trail trailhead is on the right (there is room for parking). Hike up the trail for about 30 minutes to reach a four-way intersection. Cross the fire road (U.S. Forest Service Road 2060) and turn left onto Lamb Mine Trail. The cave is around the second turn. The cave is wet for the first 100 feet or so in the spring and winter. For more information, read the U.S. Forest Service's description at

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