Pacific Northwest Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
Limpy Botanical Trail
Forest: Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
District: Wild Rivers Ranger District
Description: One of the best trails in southwest Oregon to observe a high diversity of native plant species, this is an easy one mile hike through a variety of unique habitats, including habitats influenced by serpentine geology. Illustrated interpretative signs provide an opportunity to learn about plant communities, featured plant species, and serpentine soils.
The wet and dry serpentine plant communities are open and sparse in general appearance, but look close - many unusual species have evolved to tolerate the soil’s high mineral content and low levels of calcium. A boardwalk passes through a Jeffrey pine savannah, protecting the fragile serpentine soils during wet weather. The Jeffrey pine is slow growing on the serpentine, while adjacent granitic soils grow the more common ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), another 3-needled pine. Other unusual species growing on serpentine include California coffeeberry (Frangula californica), Brewer’s oak (Quercus garryana var. breweri), a low growing subspecies of white oak, and two herbaceous rockcress (Arabis aculeolata and Arabis subpinnatifida).
Numerous benches are placed along the trail and provide places to relax and spend meditative moments while enjoying the creek, a waterfall, or a scenic view overlooking the lower portion of Limpy Creek drainage (which empties into the Rogue River). Wooden bridges provide access across Limpy Creek where red alder (Alnus rubra), big-leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), vine maple (Acer circinatum) and even a few Port-Orford cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) provide lush shade in summer months.
Viewing Information: The trail is at low elevation making it accessible year round, and an excellent place to explore the earliest of the spring flowers. As early as late February, the first bloom appears - the small “spring-queen” (Synthyris reniformis), but it requires a discerning eye to spot it hidden amongst many forest floor species. In early March, the purple flowering fawn lilies (Erythronium hendersonii) are easy to spot carpeting the beginning of the trail. Other highlights are the sweet smelling wild azaleas (Rhododendron occidentale) blooming near Mother’s Day, and fields of blue camas (Camassia quamash) showcasing in late May. A plant list is available from the Ranger District and records 250 plant species along Limpy Botanical Trail, including 43 shrub and tree species.
Safety First: Poison oak and ticks are common; although an unlikely occurrence, watch for rattlesnakes. Bring your own drinking water.
Directions: Take Hwy 199 south from Grants Pass, about 7 miles (measured from the intersection of Williams Hwy 238 & Hwy 199). Turn right onto Riverbanks Road (just after crossing the Applegate River). Go 4.5 miles and turn left onto Limpy Creek Road. Proceed 2.3 miles to the small gravel parking lot, restroom and trailhead.
Ownership and Management: USDA Forest Service, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Wild Rivers Ranger District.
Closest Town: Grants Pass, Oregon.