Community Gems: Hiking in Jacksonville, Discovering Britt Festivals

Did you know that Jacksonville has over forty-five miles of hiking trails—all kept up by volunteers? Or did you realize that when the Britt Festival began, it only featured classical music? Jacksonville is one of the most historic cities in Southern Oregon, and today, tourists visit from all across the country to delight in high-quality entertainment and scenic getaways. During the summer months, Jacksonville sees up to 60,000 people visit the city—which is why a place of 2,900 residents can get away with having nearly twenty successful restaurants. Markets open up, shops set up sidewalk sales, and everyone finds something to do while waiting for the Britt Festival in the evenings—even if that something is hiking the mountain trails nearby, or digging deeper into Jacksonville’s fascinating history.

As said by historian Larry Smith, Britt Festival is “the industry that saved Jacksonville.” Originally, the event was set up for classical concerts in the evenings, but as the seventies and eighties arrived, the festival decided to allow rock, country, and other genres to perform. Because a lot of wealthy retirees from California were beginning to move up to Jacksonville, the management was worried that the noise would disturb them, and the city would receive constant complaints. However, due to the shape of the Britt grounds, the noise funneled into the hills more than the city, naturally creating a bit of volume control. Today, the Britt Festival features every type of genre, even including comedians and magicians. Jacksonville is known for “reinventing itself,” and so what was once a mining town during the gold rush, is now a high-class tourist destination full of arts and entertainment.

For the more rugged folks though, Jacksonville offers miles of steep—or easy—hiking and biking trails up in the surrounding woods. Forest Park trails provide gorgeous vistas and overlooks of Southern Oregon, but almost more amazingly, these hiking grounds are all taken care of by volunteers. “Jacksonville Woodlands Association is one of the most successful small-town volunteer groups in the state,” said Smith. And if you’ve ever been to Forest Park for a day of hiking, you’ll see why. Miles of paths are marked and trimmed, making sure that every visitor can fully enjoy the beauty of Jacksonville’s hills.

So whether your forte is exploring the great outdoors, or taking in a concert, Jacksonville is a summertime destination for everyone, complete with doses of history from an era gone by.

Thanks to the newest addition to our SOREDI team, our SOU intern, Abigail Skelton, we will continue to feature some of the popular attractions located in our Southern Oregon communities. We consider each one of our towns and cities to be “jewels in the crown” that makes up Southern Oregon. If you have a story idea sparked by an inspiring local attraction, please e-mail our Communications Manager, Codi Spodnik and maybe Abigail will be giving you a call to follow up.  If you are a SOREDI Member and you have some great news, please e-mail it to Codi so we can share it in our newsletter.

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