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  1. #1
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    Tell me about Medford/Ashland

    My wife has a rather appealing job opportunity in Medford and besides driving through there years ago, we know very little about it. We currently live in san francisco and love the easy access to tahoe and the ocean. However the cost of living is absurd and the schools are pretty mediocre which is a major concern since we have two little kids.

    So what can you tell me about the Medford area, specifically:
    1. Mountain biking: how close is it to town? Can you ride year round?
    2. Skiing: Is there any backcountry skiing in the area? As for lift served, it looks like Mt. Ashland is ok for the kids, but how far do you have to drive for a more significant mountain.
    3. Surfing: nevermind.
    4. Schools: They have to be better than Cali schools, but does anyone have any opinion on the local elementary schools?
    5: Weather: Summers look pretty hot. Is it dry or humid?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I live in Ashland which is a 20 minute commute for my wife and son who work and school in Medford.

    1) white rabbit trail dumps out at the top of our street. Can't get much closer to the trail. Living in Ashland we have a lot of ride options peddling distance away.

    2) I used to tele ski and can tell you that within 2 hours of Ashland there is more backcountry than you will be able to ski for a long time.

    3) surfing is 3 hours away in COLD water. But I have seen some pretty good breaks at the coast.

    4) Public schools in Ashland are excellent. Private schools in Medford can be excellent. Public schools in Medford are truly dependent on you and how you raised your kids. If you have done your job your kids will succeed if not they will struggle. Same can be said for any school for that matter.

    5) summers are pretty hot for 2-3 weeks. It is pretty dry here not very humid. I moved here from FL so nothing is humid compared to that.

    What it boils down to is this: if you and your family love the outdoors the Rogue valley is heaven. I can hunt, fish, ride, ski, hike, camp and everything else 15-45 minutes from the house. We live here for quality of life and I can't imagine a better place to live. If you want to get rich... Look elsewhere....
    Tight + Twisty = Tasty
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for the insight. We're not moving to get rich, we're moving to get less poor (housing costs are about 1/3 of SF) and to get our kids out of the city. Ironically, her Ashland job would pay considerably more than her current one, so it's a win win, as long as I can get my head around the idea of rarely surfing. Right now I walk across the street to surf. But if I can do more mtn biking, I think I'll survive.

    The other tough consideration is leaving all of our friends behind and starting over. Although kids are like dogs in that they make it easier to meet people.

    We're going to take a trip up there in a few weeks and get a better lay of the land.

  4. #4
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    Not an expert on the region by any means, but have visited quite a few times, so hopefully my experience has some value ...

    For lift skiing on a "more significant mountain" than Mt. Ashland, you're either driving up to Mt. Bachelor (200+ miles) or down to Tahoe. But yes, for bc skiing you've got enormous possibilities. People DO surf in Oregon, but you'll want to invest in a dry suit.

    Weather is warm and dry in the summer, sometimes hot. Cooler winters of course, and from what I've seen often cooler nights than we often have up here in Portland. Especially in Ashland where (from what I understand) it snows a few times a year.

    From what I've seen the cost of living can be surprisingly high by Oregon standards, especially in Ashland, but moderate by California standards. Which is why so many Californians move there ... which, in turn, is why it can be high by Oregon standards.

    I don't know about the local schools at all, nor do I know about your current schools, but I can tell you that across the state of Oregon we've been having school funding crises for a number of years running. You can't assume the schools up here are better, because funding has been cut and (as anywhere) the quality of the schools is often as dependent on student demographics and the level of parental involvement as it is on funding.

    In terms of budgets counties like Jackson (where you're looking) have been hit harder than most, with the state cutting funding because their revenue has dropped .. AND the federal government cutting back on their "timber payments" program, which has heavily funded local governments in timber country since the supply of old growth logs ran out 20 years ago. In 2007 Jackson County actually closed its libraries for several months when there was an interruption in these payments. So I can't imagine the local schools are exactly flush with funds right now.

    Definitely pay another visit and talk to as many locals as you can before committing. There are parts of Jackson County that are awesome, and parts that have a not-so-great reputation, though the recreational opportunities are definitely great overall. Look around and know what you're walking into.
    "People like GloyBoy are deaf. They are partisan, intellectually lazy & usually very angry." -Jaybo

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the perspective. I think as far as schools go, there are few places nationally that aren't experiencing pretty severe budget cuts. I know they are in SF. The compounding issue here is that the city has a lottery system that determines which school your kid will attend. Location is only one minor consideration, so there's a fair chance your kid(s) will get bussed to a crappy school in the mission (minus the bus of course, it's up to the parent to get the kid to school). That's why so many young parents flee the city and why SF has the lowest percentage of kids of any major city in the country.
    The options are private $chool or to move to Marin or south bay where a 3 br. starter home is $1.3 million.
    That said, we will definitely spend some time researching the school situation in Ashland before we pack our bags.

  6. #6
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    You can ride easily year round. The valley floor sits at about 1300-2000 ft depending where you are and the snow line will rest somewhere around 4500-500ft. Of course there are a few days where the snow level drops and hits the valley floor, but you can access almost all the lower trails just fine. BTW, the riding gets better around here in the winter. The soil is mostly decomposed granite and when it gets wet it get sticky and most of the braking bumps and ruts go away. Summer when the conditions become like kitty litter on a marble floor. Still, real dirt isn't far away.

    Medford has no real mountain biking in town, however it's a shorter distance to get to places close by like Lost Creek Lake, Applegate Lake, N. Umpqua, and other areas. Ashland is a great place, but it's at the end of the valley. Medford sits right in the middle. If you like to road ride, it's a bit nicer place to live. Either one is silly close by in time and distance, so both are okay.

    Jackson County has actually weathered most of the budget cutbacks better than the surrounding counties like Josephine (Grants Pass). Ashland's school district is exceptionally funded but they are facing dwindling student enrollment as the average age of the town's population gets older. They are struggling to keep teachers, but the ones they have are quite good.

    Feel free to ask any questions and I'll try to answer them the best I can. If you are in the area, swing by my shop in Medford (Service Course Velo) and I can point you to some sweet trails and maybe even find time to show you a few "lesser known" ones.

    Thom
    [SIZE=2]I like to start out slow and then back it off a notch.[/SIZE]

  7. #7
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    Thanks Thom for the info and generous offer. I won't have time (or a bike) on this trip, but will definitely hit you up for your trail knowledge if we make the move.

  8. #8
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    My youngest just finished 5th grade and I know the Ashland schools/teachers well (lived here for 15 years). Ashland does not have trouble keeping teachers - they don't leave their jobs. I know a lot of people with teaching degrees who can't find a job in Ashland because there are very few openings. And while the budget cuts have hurt, the Ashland Schools Foundation has helped cover shortfalls and our schools are among the best in Oregon.
    Also, Mt Ashland is small, but it is so close that you can drive up for a few runs so it is kind of like your current surfing situation. I have several local friends who drive the 2 hours to Crescent City to surf - kind of like your trips to Tahoe.
    Have a great visit and hope it works out!

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    I live over in Klamath Falls, so I do not really have any insightful information regarding the schools, but I do coach the local high school hockey team in Klamath and play Medford teams regularly. From my perspective Medford seems like a larger Klamath Falls, i.e. fairly depressed, a lot of sprawl, unhealthy community. If I were you, I would definitely try to live in Ashland as opposed to Medford. Medford has a decent amount of sprawl and not much of a community feel. Ashland seems like a much better community, especially one to raise kids in. I'd also look into Jacksonville (has a trail system right outside of town, annual downhill race there) and Talent/Phoenix (Wagner Butte riding area, never ridden but heard it is sweet). Jacksonville will probably be closer to Ashland in terms of cost of living. Either way, lots and lots of riding options. I mean within 2 hours there are so many trails, with a fair amount of variety as well. Note: no offense to people living in Medford. This is just the vibe I get from the people I've met. With any town, I am sure there are great things about Medford.

    In terms of backcountry skiing, you really can't go wrong. Brown Mountain is probably a 30-40 minute drive from Medford and a good place for before work turns. Mt. Mcloughlin is about the same distance away and is sweet. Crater Lake is fairly close and probably the best kept secret in Oregon in terms of skiing. Easy access, deeeeeeeep snow, and usually fairly dry for the cascades. Shasta would be an hour away. I mean, as with biking, the options are really endless. Plus, the best part is that you rarely see other people.

  10. #10
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    Great info--thanks! We're heading up in late July to get the lay of the land, look at a few houses and decide if it's a move we want to make. The BC skiing info is encourage as one of our biggest concerns is the distance from Tahoe. I'll make a point to check out Jacksonville when we're there.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinizer View Post
    Great info--thanks! We're heading up in late July to get the lay of the land, look at a few houses and decide if it's a move we want to make. The BC skiing info is encourage as one of our biggest concerns is the distance from Tahoe. I'll make a point to check out Jacksonville when we're there.
    I just moved here in the last month from Utah. I have never done any BC skiing in Oregon, but have done it for about the last 15 years. If you are looking for a partner - PM me - obviously I won't be going out until this upcoming winter.

  12. #12
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    Mt Ashland mountain biking is like most of the great XC/FR in Santa Cruz in one continuous 12 mile stretch instead of 12 trails that are 1 mile long each.

  13. #13
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    I'm on the train going up now, besides mt. Ashland, where else is good for riding?

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    In my limited time here, this is what I have found:
    Ashland - pretty non-technical trail with lots of braking bumps before each corner, there seems to be a lot of hikers around the mid point of the trails. Fun to get one big climb in and then one downhill.
    Applegate Res - Really fun flow single track, not a lot of climbing, great views.
    Jacksonville Res - Probably the most tech trails I found so far, yet some of the trails have some ridiculous steep climbs and impossible to make switchbacks. There is a real lack of people.

  15. #15
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    We're also looking at a move to Oregon, we are both in the medical field, I practice psychiatry, my wife practices family medicine.

    Does anyone have a sense for wether there is any significant unfilled demand for mental health providers and family practice provider?

    Is the population of younger people, families with children, etc.. growing any faster than other places in Oregon?

    I used to live in Eugene, so I'm really looking forward to getting back West, the hot and humid weather in the Tennessee Valley is draining me, literally

  16. #16
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    Licensed in Oregon and Cali, then you should be fine as you are not too far from border.

  17. #17
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    Yes!

    Quote Originally Posted by ehigh View Post
    I'm on the train going up now, besides mt. Ashland, where else is good for riding?
    The other side of the watershed, climb up horn gap road to horn gap trail. At the top of the trail cross over the road you will find another trail that continues up a little ways, then turns down. I believe its called panther peak trail. After dropping out of that, you will continue straight across a dirt road and continue on another dirt road to a gate. After the gate, continue on the road for a couple hundred feet and look to your right, the road will split, go right and this will become the Mystic trail. Its fast and fun.

    Also, about a 15 min drive from ashland, you have the Wagner creek and chucks chips loop. these trails in my opinion are by far the best in the area. Hard to find though.

    Here is a video from last year with a little sample of Jaberwocky, Mystic, and Wagner. By no means are we the fastest riders, but you get a feel for the trail.

    Mountain Biking - Ashland OR on Vimeo
    "Yep, Redding sucks alright, just way less than you think." - Fiskare

  18. #18
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    Here is a ride report from a weekend we spent in Ashland last year. Super fun trails!
    Wheels & Water: Ashland Trails (6.11.11)

    -Nate

  19. #19
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    Nate, great write up and pics, that was awesome stoke and very motivational in our planned to move to Southern Oregon.

    I have a question for you: I am a year round trail rider, riding local trails after work 2-3 times a week, with big rides on the weekends. We currently live in East Tennessee, so there are tons of trail choices. We get about the same amount of rain as Eugene, but it's a little warmer, a litle more humid, and our rain comes in deluges vs the steady drip of the Willamette Valley.

    It sounds like you're not a year round trail rider, is that due to wet season conditions or is it that you're too busy with other sports during the winter?

    I used to live in Eugene, but I was mostly a road rider back then, now I'm mostly a trail rider. Is Eugene any good for trail riding? How does Eugene compare to Ashland, Corvallis, and Bend?

    Again, thanks for the pics and descriptions, I esp like the rock garden shots

  20. #20
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    Basically, for the most part, I'm a fair weather rider. As you might have noticed from my blog, whitewater kayaking is my main sport, and the primary season for that is in the winter time. That said, there is year-round riding, and most riders around here do just that, including my wife. There are certain areas that people stick during the wet months, like the river trails and an area called Whypass.

    As for Eugene compared to the others areas you mentioned, there's not a lot of great riding out your doorstep, but Oakridge is only ~45 minutes east, and has some of the best riding in the state.

    I'm sure others, will share some opinions on this as well.

    Hope this helps,
    Nate

    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Nate, great write up and pics, that was awesome stoke and very motivational in our planned to move to Southern Oregon.

    I have a question for you: I am a year round trail rider, riding local trails after work 2-3 times a week, with big rides on the weekends. We currently live in East Tennessee, so there are tons of trail choices. We get about the same amount of rain as Eugene, but it's a little warmer, a litle more humid, and our rain comes in deluges vs the steady drip of the Willamette Valley.

    It sounds like you're not a year round trail rider, is that due to wet season conditions or is it that you're too busy with other sports during the winter?

    I used to live in Eugene, but I was mostly a road rider back then, now I'm mostly a trail rider. Is Eugene any good for trail riding? How does Eugene compare to Ashland, Corvallis, and Bend?

    Again, thanks for the pics and descriptions, I esp like the rock garden shots

  21. #21
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    I used to live in Ashland and Medford. The riding has been pretty much summed up in this thread. I used to do the 2 hour drive to surf and windsurf just about every weekend. Usually I'd camp out someplace and get 4 or so sessions in before going back to the valley. Southern Oregon and the tip of Northern California has some excellent surf at times, especially in fall. I remember meeting a quite a few traveling pros and legends up there. The windsurfing is well known as being world class, if you're into that.

    If you have a job in Ashland lined up, then certainly get out of the bay area and move ASAP. Southern Oregon is what California was like in the 80's - clean, good schools, hippies, empty beaches, not so ghetto, innovative people, people talk to each other...

  22. #22
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    While on the mt Ashland adventures shuttle, I remembered this thread when a guy said, 'this would be such an awesome town to grow up in' as we made our way through town around the parks. Most of the jobs are centered around tourism, but I'm considering making do with that once I have some saved. Ashland is such a great town. I suppose it does depend on the person though. A tolerance for bums and an appreciation for beautiful people made it for me.

  23. #23
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    We're 99% sure we're making the move. Just have to finalize contracts, give notice, buy a house. We're leaning toward Ashland proper, but Jacksonville is nice and a little quieter. Too bad the middle and high schools feed into the wrong side of medford.

    Acctnut--good to hear on the surf. If you have any info on surf spots (not windsurfing) i'd be stoked if you could PM me.

    MoodDood--I'll contact you when the snow flies.

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    Martinizer - sound good. My wife and I looked at Ashland and Jacksonville and decided on JVille and we are extremely glad we did. JVille may be smaller, but everything is walking distance, lots of nice people, quite, there is a good core group of riders (mtb rides year round on Wednesday evening), and you don't have to deal with a bunch of homeless people.
    Hope you like to Road ride. The road riding is the best I have ever experienced anywhere! Where as the MTBing isn't.

  25. #25
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    Could anyone elaborate on Chucks Chips near Talent, Oregon?
    I am looking to shuttle it and cannot find any information regarding where to park, what roads to drive up etc.

    Thanks!

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