When early settlers came to Southern Oregon, the abundance of timber and discovery of gold sparked the trend of resource extraction. Small towns sprung up around timber mills. Gold was sluiced from hillsides and creeks.
In the 1860’s, JR Layton owned two mines in the area and had a 21 mile long ditch dug from Pipe Fork Creek to the Layton Mine. Hand dug with the help of Chinese labor. It took 3 years to complete before hydraulic mining could be commenced. The mine remained profitable for over 50 years, into the 1920’s.
What it is like today.
Amazingly, the ditch is intact in many places and the tailings have become a scenic, mostly level walking path at 2400 feet elevation in the east hills of Williams. 10 miles have been restored and is maintained regularly by volunteers. It is open to hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and trail runners.
As of 2022, plans are in place to contact landowners on the north segment (unimproved as of this writing) to see permission to extend the trail to as much of it 21 mile length as possible.
WCFP does regularly schedule trail maintenance work parties that are posted on the Community Event Calendar.
Join us in helping maintain the trail at a upcoming work party. Hope to see you on the trail!