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Oregon

The Table Rocks


Explore the Table Rocks on free, naturalist-guided weekend hikes this spring!

Why You Should Visit

Rising dramatically 800 feet above the Rogue River Valley, the Table Rocks are remnants of lava flows that filled the canyons of an ancient, meandering Rogue River over 7 million years ago. Atop these mesas is a mosaic of grassy mounds, stony flats and vernal, or seasonal, ponds.

The Table Rocks figure in Southwest Oregon history as prominent landmarks and gathering places for Native Americans and for settlers along the Oregon-California Trail.

Location

North of Medford, in Southwest Oregon

Size

3,591 acres 

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

The Nature Conservancy bought land on Lower Table Rock over thirty years ago, creating our first preserve in the Rogue Valley. In 2008, we acquired an additional 1,710 acres, securing the last remaining private lands on both Upper and Lower Table Rocks. As a result, the Table Rocks are now owned and collaboratively managed by the Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which has designated its holdings as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

Conservancy and BLM scientists are controlling invasive species, evaluating altered fire cycles, and supporting recreational and cultural uses. Ecologists survey and monitor rare plant populations, non-native species, bats, butterflies and a variety of birds.

Volunteer teams plant native grasses and remove weeds, and the Table Rocks provide a popular outdoor classroom for thousands of school children who visit each year to learn about natural and cultural history.

In an emotional ceremony in 2011, Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde, the Conservancy and the BLM signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The agreement includes the Tribes in future planning and management of the Table Rocks natural area for the first time in more than a century. Watch a video of the signing ceremony.

What to See: Plants

Remarkable diversity includes a spectacular wildflower display from March until June with expanses of goldfields, grass widows and brodiaea. The dwarf woolly meadowfoam grows here and nowhere else on Earth. The slopes below the rocks support Oregon white oak, madrone, ponderosa pine woodlands and Rogue Valley chaparral.

What to See: Animals

A federally listed species of fairy shrimp has been discovered inhabiting the vernal pools, and oak woodlands and chaparral provide the blue-gray gnatcatcher's northernmost known nesting site.

Spring wildflowers begin to bloom in February and reach their peak during April and May. Watch out for poison oak, rattlesnakes, ticks and the hazards of steep cliffs.

Please observe the following guidelines while hiking:

  • Stay on the trail. Don't collect plants, insects or other species or disturb soil, rocks, artifacts or scientific research markers.
  • No dogs. Preserves harbor ground-nesting birds and other wildlife that are extremely sensitive to disturbance.
  • No bicycles or motorized vehicles. Native plants and research sites are easily trampled.
  • No hunting, camping or campfires.
  • For groups of 10 or more, please contact us before visiting a preserve (a volunteer naturalist guide may be available).
  • Please bring a bag and carry out any trash you find.
  • Please report to us any problems you observe (e.g., camping, plant removal, hunting, off-road vehicle damage, etc).
Directions

From I-5 North out of Medford:

  • Take the Central Point Exit (Exit 33) east about one mile to Table Rock Road. 
  • Turn north (left) onto Table Rock Road. 
  • Proceed 7.6 miles, passing Tou Velle State Park. 
  • Turn west (left) onto Wheeler Road and continue approximately one mile to the signed parking lot. The 2-mile trail to the top of Lower Table Rock begins there.

 

Discussion

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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