There are good places for recreational gold prospecting along Lower Cow Creek Byway not far from Interstate-5. Cow Creek, a tributary of the South Umpqua River, was one of the major gold producers in Southern Oregon during the Gold Rush Era.
There is some amount of material left and still possible to find small flakes and fine gold in the creek sediments. The creek accumulates most gold and various minerals during the rainy season when runoffs carry those from the surrounding mountains.
You can use pans, sluice boxes, highbanker, and suction dredges here.
Besides gold, you can find quartz, agate, and jasper here.
A few places are listed below.
Cow Creek Gold Panning Area
Cow Creek Gold Panning Area is a 1,300-foot section of Cow Creek, located 21 miles southwest of Riddle. The area is open for public non-commercial gold panning and rockhounding. Park your car on the gravel wayside along the road and find a path down to the creek.
Island Creek Day Use Area
Island Creek is located about 8 miles southwest of Riddle. This is a great scenic site to explore the creek. This area is also great for picnicking, swimming, fishing, and nature viewing. There is a picnic table and vault restroom.
A big tailing pile of rocks right by the gate of an an old nickel mine provides the opportunity to find garnierite and chrysoprase. The site is located at Cow Creek Back County Byway, 3 miles southwest of a small city of Riddle.
Please, be mindful of multiple mining claims located along the creek.
The areas listed below did not have private claim markers at the moment of this writing but this is subject to change. Check before you go.