Located along Ashland Creek in the lush forested canyon, Lithia Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Oregon with complete combinations of woodland, ponds, gardens, and gorgeous fountains. Named "crown jewel" of Ashland, the park has a long story.
The Lithia started in 1892 as a place that offered lectures and entertainment in the building near the flour mill. When the mill burned to the ground, the land was acquired by the city. Later, more land was purchased and donated for public use. In 1908, the park was established.
In 1912, John McLaren, the designer of Golden Gate and McLaren Parks in San Francisco, was invited to develop Lithia Park in the tradition of Frederick Law Olmsted (a designer of New York’s Central Park).
Today, the largest park in Ashland covers 93 acres of land, contains groves of sycamore trees, rose and Japanese gardens, two duck ponds, a swimming reservoir, tennis and volleyball courts, a kid’s playground, picnic areas, wooden bridges, and miles of hiking trails.
The park’s centerpiece, the Italian-style Butler-Perozzi Fountain was built in 1916 in Florence, Italy by the Italian Sculptor A. Frilli. The statue and fountain were purchased at International Exposition in San-Francisco by two Ashland businessmen Gwin Butler and Domingo Perozzi and then donated to the city.
The other landmark is Lithia Fountain on the Ashland Plaza near the park entrance.
In 1982, Lithia Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Things to Do & See
Lithia Mineral Water
The mineral water in Ashland contains lithium oxide (LiO2) in the second-highest concentration after the Saratoga Hot Springs in New York. At the beginning of the 1900s, there were attempts to establish the mineral health spa but later the idea was faded.
In 1927, with the installation of the Lithia Fountain, the mineral water became available to the public. If you wish, you can sip mineral water at the drinking fountain on the Plaza or at the Enders Shelter.
The Lithia mineral-rich water has a quite special taste and many people find it disgusting. Light sulfur odor and spicy taste indicate the presence of minerals that makes this water unique. As for me, I enjoyed the Lithia water much better than some famous medicine water in Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic) or Budapest (Hungary).
The Lithia water is regularly analyzed by the City Public Works department, and according to their tests, the level of lithium, barium, and other chemicals in the water is safe to drink in moderate amounts.
There is no claims that the water is beneficial for health and no recommendations on how much you should drink.
The easy main 1.5-mile trail runs through the park from Main Street Plaza to the base of Mount Ashland. Hiking directions and distances are given at the park’s entrance on the Plaza. The well-maintained trail is for pedestrians only, no dogs or bicycles are allowed.
If you start from the main entrance, you will follow along the Ashland Creek, cross a few wooden bridges, gardens, ponds, picnic areas, and, finally, reach the swimming reservoir at the southern edge of the park. This end of the park connects to different trails including the mountain bike BTI and Alice in Wonderland trails, as well as multi-use White Rabbit and Caterpillar trails.
Numerous hillside trails are connecting to the main Lithia path.
Lithia Park offers an opportunity to go swimming on a hot summer day. Granite Swim Reservoir above the old dam is fed by the water of Ashland Creek. The mountain water is cool even in the middle of the summer. The swimming area features a sandy beach and big grassy areas with picnic tables.
Fishing is not allowed in the park.
Open: Year-round from dawn to 11.30 pm
Restrictions: No dogs are allowed, except for ADA compliant service dogs