Backyard Gems of Grants Pass: Dollar Mountain
Zach Urness/Daily Courier

The views of Grants Pass and the Rogue Valley from Dollar Mountain are outstanding.

Dollar Mountain Trail is just a few minutes from downtown Grants Pass, but it features outstanding wildflowers in the spring and great views of the Rogue Valley year-round. Here’s links to a photo gallery and video.

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By Zach Urness of the Daily Courier

The axiom goes something like this: the more difficult a trailhead is to locate, the better the hike will be.

For a long time I've stood behind that motto. The only hikes and backpacking trails that really piqued my interest were those which required long drives into the mountains, though a maze of gritty BLM and forest service roads to destinations so remote, that to reach them, you had to really want it.

The problem with this philosophy, of course, is that most days don't allow enough time for traipsing though the wilderness.

On these days, the best bet is to explore something I call "Backyard Gems of Grants Pass," which focus on more close-to-home adventures.

One of the best examples of a Backyard Gem is Dollar Mountain.

On the day I hiked Dollar Mountain — or the B Street Trail, which it's sometimes called — I packed a backpack with snacks, filled the water bottle and stepped outside my apartment and into my car.

Then I drove three minutes to the trailhead. That's right. Three minutes.

From downtown GP, finding Dollar Mountain trailhead is a matter of driving around the Josephine County Courthouse, jumping on B Street and following it about a mile before turning left on Crescent Street. There's a good marker at the trailhead, and a pull-out spot where you can park.

The best time to hike Dollar Mountain is spring. Wildflowers of purple, gold, orange, white and blue ornament the edges of the trail, and amateur botanists and photographers will spent hours checking out the Pacific hound's tongue (cynoglossum grande) and shooting stars (Dodecatheon hendersonii). Depending on the weather, the flowers will typically stay in bloom through May or into June.

The trail becomes fairly steep at about the midway point, but effort from climbing is well worth the price of admission. Spectacular views of Grants Pass and the Rogue Valley are the main draw of this hike, along with the spring wildflowers.

Once you're high up, you can poke your head out through the branches of the manzanita trees for wide, sweeping views of the Climate City nestled between rolling green hills.

Part of what I enjoyed about the hike is the prospective it gives concerning the topography surrounding Grants Pass. Even though mountains are a regular part of the view in town, it doesn't always hit home how much of an actual valley we live in. The view of Dollar Mountain gives you an overhead view.

The summit is marked by a large radio tower that you'll be able to see above the trees as you get closer to the top.

The radio tower makes the summit a little anti-climactic, but that's OK. There's plenty of overlooks around and near the summit where you can spend some time relaxing.

The beauty of the hike is that it's so close to town that you can spend as much time as you desire investigatingthe wildflowers or enjoying the views and still have plenty of time remaining to wrap up daily chores.

Note: Dollar Mountain has nothing to do with money, despite the name. "There was an old ranch up there, and they used to raise strawberries," author Edna May Hill wrote in a 1992 Daily Courier article. "They were as big as dollars, I believe that's what it was." Or, more likely, it was from the Dollar family ranch off of the end of B Street, said Michael Oaks, local historian.

Backyard Gems of Grants Pass

Dollar Mountain

• Adventure: hiking

• Equipment: hiking boots/shoes, water bottle

• Effort: moderate/difficult

• Distance: 3 miles round-trip

• Time required: 2 to 2.5 hours

• Craziness factor (out of 5): 2.5

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