The Onion Way Trail at Sam Brown Horse Camp follows the historic route that early-1900s miners took to get from the Briggs Valley area west of Grants Pass to the mines on Onion Creek. It runs through lush forest and pretty meadows filled with wildflowers in season. Most of the trail is densely shaded.
Distance: 5 miles round trip
Elevation: 2,000 to 2,300 feet
You'll pick up the Onion Way Trail just across Road 25 from Sam Brown Horse Camp, off Road 121. The Onion Way Trailhead is on the right.
The trail fords Horse Creek and travels for several miles through small meadows and shady stands of old-growth Douglas-fir trees, crossing Road 25 twice and ending at the Secret Creek Campground.
If you’d like to make a loop and extend your ride by about 2 miles, you can backtrack to where the trail crossed Road 25 for the second time, then turn left on the Elkhorn Mine Jeep Trail (Road 040). Follow it to the Briggs Creek Trail and turn right, then ride the Briggs Creek Trail back to the trailhead, following pretty Briggs Creek most of the way.
You can stay overnight at Sam Brown Horse Camp, which features seven campsites with 2- or 4-horse log corrals, picnic tables, and fire rings. The camp has a vault toilet and potable water from a hand pump. You’ll pay a fee for overnight camping.
Getting to Sam Brown Horse Camp
From Grants Pass, take I-5 north for 3 miles to the Merlin exit (Exit 61). Turn west on the Merlin-Galice Road toward Merlin. Continue for 12.2 miles and turn left on Taylor Creek Road (Road 25). This paved one-lane road (with occasional turnouts for downhill traffic) winds steeply up over Lone Tree Pass and down into the Briggs Valley. After 13.5 miles, turn right on Road 2512 and cross the bridge to the horse camp.
You’ll find more information about the Onion Way Trail and other rides near Sam Brown Horse Camp in Riding Southern Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2017), available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.