Running Roxy Ann Peak

Lope the loop trail at Prescott Park for an attainable summit with 360-degree views of Southern Oregon’s renowned Rogue Valley.

From the summit of Roxy Ann Peak, you can see for miles. This 3,576-foot-tall volcanic butte in Oregon’s Western Cascades is the main feature of Medford’s 1,700-acre Prescott Park, and a short drive from downtown. There are few such panoramic summits that are as attainable for runners. Prescott Park has over 15 miles of trails for running, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Though the trails are technically welcome to all users, some are recommended for specific user groups to minimize conflict. 

As a prominent geographic feature in the Rogue Valley, the site was historically enjoyed by the Latgawa people who first inhabited the area nearly 10,000 years ago. More recently, Roxy Ann Peak was named after an early European settler who arrived on the 1853 Missouri-Oregon wagon train. The City of Medford was established in 1883, and in the early 1930s the city acquired land for the park from the federal government. Designed by the National Park Service, the original access roads, trails, and picnic areas were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (the park named after a local policeman who was killed while on duty). Over the following decades, the park fell into disrepair—most of the original features are now just remnants. In the last 10 years, Medford has invested heavily into trail development and improved access, significantly increasing the park’s popularity.  

Runners can enjoy a variety of routes throughout the park, including a soft-surface road that circumnavigates the peak and ascends to the summit. Trails traverse a variety of native Southern Oregon landscapes, including oak savannah, madrone woodlands, and coniferous forests, most all of which are heavily interspersed with poison oak shrubs. Wildflowers and wildlife abound; keep an eye out for pileated woodpeckers, great horned owls, plenty of deer, and the occasional rattlesnake. 

Looking north about the park, one can view the majestic Mount McLoughlin, Crater Lake rim, and the needle-nosed Mount Thielsen, as well as the Rogue River winding through the Upper and Lower Table Rock Plateau Nature Reserves. To the south, you see the communities of Medford, Phoenix, and Talent along Bear Creek, with Wagner Butte, Mount Ashland, and Pilot Rock marking the Siskiyou Crest. In short, explains Rich Rosenthal, the City of Medford’s Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director, it’s a special place, notably because “few public parks with well-developed trail systems are in such close proximity to the majority of city residents.” Rosenthal adds that the ultimate payoff is the perspective gained: seeing the peak of Mount Shasta in northern California all the way to the Three Sisters in central Oregon. “The views are absolutely phenomenal,” he adds, “and it’s only 15 minutes from downtown Medford.”

Recommended Route

Prescott Park has three parking areas, the largest of which is at the end of the public access road. (The road continues in a loop around the peak but is not open to vehicles.) For avid trail runners, take the Loop Road to the Ponderosa Trail, which leads to the summit, and then descend via the Manzanita Trail, a roughly 3-mile, moderately steep loop. For those who prefer an easier running surface, stay on the Loop Road until you reach the Tower Road spur on the back side of the peak. By coming back down the Tower Road spur and continuing the Loop Road, the route is a total of roughly 4 miles. The Loop Road is gently sloping, with just a few steep areas, while the Tower Road spur becomes fairly steep, at over 15% grade. Remember, there’s no penalty for slowing down to a walk!

Getting There

Prescott Park is located approximately 6 miles from downtown Medford. From downtown, take East Main Street or Jackson Street eastward until it becomes Hillcrest Drive. At about the 4-mile mark, Hillcrest Road merges with East McAndrews Road. Continue uphill another mile, past Cherry Lane to Roxy Ann Road on the left, where there’s a sign for Prescott Park. Continue up Roxy Ann Road through the access gate for another mile, where a second gate marks the official park entrance. You can park along the road or continue up to the main parking area. The road to the parking area is paved.

More Info 

Prescott Park is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., March 1 to Oct. 31, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nov. 1 to Feb. 28. The park is closed when fire danger is extreme. Medford generally enjoys mild weather, but check conditions before you go, because the trails can get significantly muddy and are technically closed after wet weather. Make sure you can identify poison oak, as it grows abundantly in the area.

Refresh and Refuel

There are more than 88 vineyards and 50 tasting rooms within an hour’s drive of Medford; more than 70 acres of grapes grow on the shallow clay soils at the base of Roxy Ann Peak, and Roxy Ann Winery’s tasting room is open daily from noon to 7 p.m., often featuring live music. For the best biscuits and sticky buns, head back downtown to the Buttercloud Bakery, which draws from local and seasonal ingredients. Common Block Brewing is a local favorite for beer and burgers, with great options for outdoor seating.

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.