Rachel Riekeman, left, and Paula Audley hike down the trail from Lower Table Rock. [Mail Tribune / file photo]

Burn turkey, burn

OK, so now what?

The turkey's nearly gone, NFL games are over and the pants don't fit too well. One contingent of your Thanksgiving visitors is running around Medford trying to get great deals on stuff they don't need, but you still have a few lazy and bored relatives you need to get out of your house.

Luckily, you live in Southern Oregon, where there are plenty of outdoor opportunities for those who want to spend Black Friday doing something fun outside.

Here are five ideas for getting the non-shoppers out and moving, with no backwoods acumen required.

Catch a fish

Free Fishing Weekend is Friday and Saturday across Oregon, so even out-of-state visitors can test-drive Southern Oregon's signature fall fisheries without denting the bank account.

It is one of several weekends each year when participants don't need licenses or tags to fish, crab or clam in the state, and what says "get out of the house" better than that?

For those with little experience, Expo Pond at the Jackson County Expo off Peninger Road is an urban angling experience that's close by and easily accessible — plus it was stocked Tuesday with 300 legal-sized rainbow trout and 150 larger 17-inchers for just this occasion.

Simple fishing tactics such as worms under bobbers likely will scare up a few trout here.

For those with a little more experience and equipment, the Rogue River's summer steelhead run is in full swing, with good access points close to Medford.

Lures such as Panther Martins or Blue Foxes, as well as large streamer flies, work well for summer steelhead when fished downstream of Shady Cove, with bait fishing allowed upstream.

Good access points include the upper portion of TouVelle State Park, as well as the Denman Wildlife Area for those with free access keys to the gate off Modoc Road. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife technicians recycled about 409 excess summer steelhead, called "retreads," at Denman Wednesday, so that could be a hot bank-fishing spot.

The state parks honchos have waived fees for the long weekend, so parking at TouVelle is free, but it's still $4 at Jackson County's lot at the Expo.

Hike a hill in J'ville

Perhaps the best and closest set of accessible hiking trails in the Medford area are the Jacksonville Woodlands trails above the Britt Gardens.

A series of intersecting trails criss-cross through the woods, making it impossible to get lost but easy to turn a short hike accidentally into a longer one. See remnants of the historic gold-mining era, such as Glory Holes and the hand-dug Petard Ditch, while walking off Thursday's meal. You may also scare up some deer or wild turkeys in the woods.

There are several access points, but perhaps the easiest is parking at the Jacksonville library lot. Just cross the street and enter the trail at the base of the Britt Gardens.

Walk in the snow

Crater Lake National Park's popular ranger-led snowshoe hikes start Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and this is an A-List event for locals or out-of-towners who want to walk off some turkey and see some of the world's purest water.

Crater Lake is one of the snowiest inhabited places in America, receiving an average of 43 feet of snow per year. And there's no better way to experience it than with free loaner snowshoes strapped to your feet.

The walks start at 1 p.m., last two hours and cover 1 to 2 miles of moderate-to-strenuous terrain. The experience is all off-trail through meadows along the crater rim.

No snowshoeing experience is needed. It costs $10 per car to get into the park, but the snowshoe rental and hike are free.

Park officials say participants should be at least 8 years old. Bring warm clothing, water-resistant footwear and drinking water.

Space on each tour is limited, and advance reservations are required. For more information and to sign up, call the park’s visitor center at 541-594-3100. If the tours are full, you can rent snowshoes here in the valley and snowshoe on your own.

Lithia experience

Ashland's nearly century-old Lithia Park contains enough trails, ponds and points of interest to easily burn a half-day. Bring a lunch of leftover turkey sandwiches, and maybe take a few turns around the ice rink just up the street from the Plaza.

First-time visitors might even fall for tasting the famous Lithia water in the Plaza.

Visit the Rogue Valley's other mesa

Upper Table Rock gets the lion's share of visitors, but Lower Table Rock is just a short jaunt away and provides a decidedly different hiking experience.

At 5.4 miles round trip, the trail up Lower Table Rock is a bit longer than its sister mesa, and the 780-foot gain in elevation is a tad higher, thereby earning its conquerors an extra slice of pumpkin pie.

The trail off Wheeler Road winds through oak savannas before slipping into a mix of madrone, black oak and conifers at densities not seen on the way up Upper Table Rock.

At the top you'll find an old airstrip that was a popular destination in the 1950s, and a quick hike across the mesa offers views of the Rogue River below and the Crater Lake rim to the northeast.

To get there from Medford, table Table Rock Road north past Modoc Road, then turn left on Wheeler Road and look for the trailhead parking signs.

— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.




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