Monuments are often a stone statue of someone from the past. But the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is set aside solely for the preservation of biodiversity.
The monument's nearly 53,000 acres featuring five distinctive ecoregions and, including the Soda Mountain Wilderness, attracts hundreds, if not thousands, of hikers every year.
A favorite hike is a section of the Pacific Crest Trail known as Hobart Bluff, whose trailhead is off Soda Mountain Road. The 1.2-mile hike leads you first through a forest, then a sun-strained desert environment. It ends at a windswept bluff that overlooks Ashland and Grizzly Peak.
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The confluence of the Cascade, Siskiyou and Klamath mountain ranges in the monument provides a backdrop for hawks circling low in the sky and dramatic thunderheads in the distance. It's one of the most biologically diverse places in North America, featuring, for example, more than 100 species of butterflies.
To reach the Hobart Bluff trailhead (5,280 feet), travel east from Ashland on Highway 66. At 14.5 miles, just before the Greensprings summit, turn right on Soda Mountain Road, 39-3E-32.3. At 3.8 miles, the PCT crosses the gravel road at a meadow with big power lines to the right.
You can see bike access roads and historic trail maps at www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/csnm/csnm-maps.php.
Amelia Covert Zeve, 13, is an Ashland-based writer and wilderness enthusiast who attends Ashland Middle School. Contact her at email@example.com.