The trail is obvious and easy to follow. Download or obtain a brochure from the Star Range Station before your visit - the numbers in it match the numbered posts along the trail and help you visualize what was happening here all those years ago. The best times to visit would be between October and May, as these are the cooler months. It gets hot here in the summer months and that is also when the ticks, rattlesnakes, and poison oak are most active.
Despite its brevity, this is a National Recreation Trail that was developed to recognize Gin Lin, a Chinese immigrant who through hard work, innovative thinking, and a good business sense – and despite rampant racism – became a notable and respected personage during Southern Oregon's early days. He is credited with introducing hydraulic mining to the area. The most successful gold mines in Southern Oregon all used this method. This trail winds through the remnants of the last of his mines, the Palmer Creek hydraulic mine, which operated from the mid 1870s to about 1885.
There are numbered posts along this interpretive trail to help you understand what you're looking at. You should download (or get a copy from the nearby Star Ranger Station) of the brochure
which is keyed to these numbers and describes sights along the trail. You really need this brochure to help you imagine what this mine was like back in the day. Except for some riveted iron pipe near the trailhead, the most obviously recognizable mining features are the remnants of the Palmer Creek Ditch at the high point along the trail and the cut-face of the hydraulic operations downhill from there.
You have to use your imagination to see this quite forest as a very busy place some 140 years ago. Just keep in mind that letting gravity work for you is the basic idea. You divert water from a creek to above your mine (via a ditch), bring in down through iron pipes to a nozzle that you use to wash gold-bearing dirt into sluice boxes to capture the gold flakes, and then you let the water and unwanted dirt continue down into the Applegate River.