All that was missing was Julie Andrews.
About midway along the Greensprings Mountain Loop Trail, the path emerges from the woods into a spacious open meadow. From the trail, the panoramic view west includes knobby Pilot Butte, Mount Ashland and the southern Rogue Valley. It’s a place where the hills are truly alive with the sound of music — and sometimes the trills of western meadowlarks.
No one brought along a recording of Julie Andrews singing the most memorable song from the “Sound of Music.” And it’s not necessary to head to the Alps in Austria to enjoy the seasonal sounds of music.
The Greensprings Mountain Loop Trail, often dubbed “The Sound of Music Trail,” begins near the Greensprings summit, about 17 miles east of Ashland off Highway 66.
There are two ways to access the loop, which is reportedly 2.2-miles long, although a GPS unit carried by a group member clocked it at 2.7 miles. The distance doesn’t really matter, because the loop, like the rest of the 6 3/4-mile round-trip hike, offers easy terrain and plenty of delicious eye-candy diversions, including ever-changing varieties of wildflowers.
On last Saturday’s outing, the floral display included plenty of fawn lilies and trilliums.
By whatever title — the Greensprings Mountain Loop or Sound of Music — the trail is regarded as one of the easiest hikes in Southern Oregon because of its length and because it has a minimal elevation gain while weaving through old-growth forests on both sides of the Sound of Music meadow.
It’s a trail with a history. Originally the Pacific Crest Trail skirted the meadow, following the still-existing trail that parallels a dirt road. About a dozen years ago, Pacific Crest Trail Association leaders decided to reroute the PCT to include the view-filled meadow. “It’s become real popular with families from the Rogue Valley and beyond. It gets a lot of use,” says Ian Nelson, the PCTA’s regional representative.
Joel Brumm, who oversees the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument for the Bureau of Land Management, says the trail is part of the monument’s expanded area.
Spring and early summer hikes are recommended to take advantage of the seasonal wildflower explosions. That’s also a reason for starting the hike at the Greensprings Highway summit, where a roadside parking area connects with the PCT. From the parking lot it’s about two miles on the northbound PCT to the loop trail junction. Along the way there are seasonal displays of flowers, including white, pink and purple trilliums, patches of paintbrush and common camas. We also found a solitary nearly-ready-to-bloom fritillaria atropupurea, or chocolate lily. The wild strawberries were flowering, but it will be weeks or longer until those bear fruit.
The flowers, forest and easy terrain make the trail feel relaxed, gently remote and tranquil. It’s easy to not notice the PCT section from the Greensprings parking area often parallels a dirt road that leads to the loop trail junction.
At the well-signed junction, we followed the Greensprings Loop counter-clockwise through a cool, shady conifer forest slightly more than mile to the meadow. Others have reported sightings of several bird species, including tree-drilling Lewis’s woodpeckers, great gray owls, western bluebirds, northern spotted owls and, for us, the heard but not seen western meadowlarks.
Along the Greensprings Loop, the meadowlarks and other songsters — birds and humans — trill their own special sounds of music.
Reach freelance writer Lee Juillerat at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-880-4139.
IF YOU GO
To reach the Greensprings Mountain Loop Trail, take Highway 66 from Ashland about 17 miles to the Greensprings summit. Park at area along the south side of the highway — a trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail. Cross the highway to the north. It’s just under two miles to the PCT-Greensprings Mountain Loop junction.
It’s possible to shorten the distance by turning left at the Greensprings summit and following Little Hyatt Road for about three-quarters of a mile to Bureau of Land Management Road 39-3E-32, turning left and continuing on the road to a small parking turnout on the left.