Best Towns 2010: Ashland, Oregon

Best for Trail Running

Ashland's Hyatt Lake     Photo: Sean Bagshaw/Outdoor Exposure Photo

POPULATION 20,996
MEDIAN HOME PRICE $395,000
HOMETOWN HERO Hal Koerner, two-time Western States 100 winner, owner of Ashland's Rogue Valley Runners store, and director of four southern Oregon running races.

THE LIVING: Ashland's philosophy: Don't mess with a good thing. The city, tucked into the sun-soaked Siskiyou Mountains, restricted retail-store size 30 years ago— no big-box invaders. That's not to say that Ashland is small-minded: There are now 363 solar panels on public offices, local legislators passed a law in 1973 (!) that requires cars to share all of Main Street with bicycles, and Ashland is still home to the West's best Shakespeare festival. As in most of the state, unemployment is still high (12.4 percent), but the silver lining comes from progressive startups, including not one but two electric-vehicle companies (Brammo and Barefoot Motors) and the United Bicycle Institute, a tech school that teaches students to be ace bike mechanics.

THE TRAIL RUNNING: Where Ashland ends, the trails begin. A dozen in-town trailheads connect 25 miles of multi-use singletrack to the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail and the path-riddled Siskiyou National Forest, enough dirt to keep ultramarathon stars and residents Jenn Shelton, the Skagg brothers, and Hal Koerner (see above) entertained. Rogue Valley Runners offers group runs every Wednesday and Thursday to train for the two annual trail races that start downtown.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD: $300K in Quiet Village will get you a three-bedroom Craftsman within walking distance of downtown, views of Grizzly Peak and Mount Washington, and trailheads and a dog park just down the street.

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