Getting ThereTo find the trailhead from Interstate 5 in Medford take either the North or South exit from I-5 and follow the signs to Jacksonville and Hwy 238. Jacksonville is a quaint historical town located about 6 miles west of Medford. The whole town of Jacksonville is on the National Historic Register because of its well preserved buildings from the 1850’s when gold was discovered nearby. After driving through the middle of Jacksonville continue on Hwy 238 towards Grants Pass. About 8.6 miles from Jacksonville is the little settlement of Ruch. Applegate Road is the major intersection here. Turn left or south onto Applegate Road and head towards Applegate Lake.
Applegate Lake is 15 miles along Applegate Road and the Applegate River. On the way you will pass the Star Ranger Station and McKee Bridge. McKee Bridge is a little settlement that is famous for its covered bridge across the Applegate River. Once you get to the Applegate Dam stay to the right and follow the road down the west side of the lake to virtual milepost 15.8 for the north end of Collings Mountain Trail. The trail is signed and has been numbered by the forest service as number 943. Park along the road next to the sign.
Route DescriptionThe trail starts next to the sign along Applegate Road. The elevation of the trailhead is approximately 2,000 ft. The trail immediately loses some elevation as it descends down to Grouse Creek. The trail follows Grouse Creek under a forested canopy with some large old growth trees along the creek. The trail crosses the creek several times and right after a heavy rain, you may get your feet wet. The creek usually has some water all year, however, I wouldn’t drink it without filtering. About 1/2 of a mile from Applegate Road you will see a dilapidated falling down small cabin on your right and then a fork in the trail. The left fork goes up to the Bigfoot Trap. It is only about 100 yds and a climb of 70 ft up to the trap and is worth the side trip. Where else are you going to be able to see a Bigfoot Trap?
Continue up the creek and start gaining elevation. You will pass an old mine adit on you right and shortly after that the trail switchbacks back to the right and you leave Grouse Creek. The trail climbs steeply and steadily through a small oak tree forest up to a ridgeline at about 3,300ft elevation which is about 2 miles from Applegate Road. Stay on the main trail up here as there are a few off shoots that go to camp sites. Once on the ridge, follow it in a southerly direction. There are some ups and downs in the trail as it heads south. The trail traverses on the west side of Collings Mountain and at 3.7 miles and 3,500ft elevation crosses a small saddle to the east side of Collings Mountain.
Go down about 50 ft and then turn left to the north along the ridge. There is lots of brush here, but you can easily avoid the bigger patches. Follow this ridge up about .4 mile as you gain another 130ft up to the forested summit of Collings Mountain. Total hike up is about 4.1 miles and you gain about 2,200 ft with the ups and downs. Return by the way you came or continue on to the end of the Collings Mountain Trail and then cross Applegate Road and pick up the Da-Ku-Be-Te-De Trail along Applegate Lake and follow it back to your car.