Tag Archives: pilot rock

Pilot Rock

On our way home from Mount Shasta City we stopped for a quick hike to Pilot Rock in Oregon’s Soda Mountain Wilderness. We took exit 1 from Interstate 5 and drove north on Old Highway 99 for 6.9 miles to Pilot Rock Road (Road 40-2E-33) where we turned east. Instead of starting at the Pilot Rock Trailhead which is located 2 miles up the road we parked after a mile at the Pacific Crest Trail crossing. (If you do start here be sure not to block the private driveway.)
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From the road Mt. Ashland to the west and Mt. McLoughlin to the north were visible in the morning light.
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We headed south on the PCT (which ironically meant we were going northbound due to the route the trail takes after crossing I-5).
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Most of the flowers were finished but by the looks of things there had been quite a few. A number of late bloomers remained and along with those were some juicy thimbleberries.
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Aside from a couple of very short uphills the trail seemed fairly level and after about 3/4 of a mile Pilot Rock came into view.
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After another .9 miles we arrived at a junction with the closed road that serves as the trail from the official Pilot Rock Trailhead.
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The two trails joined for .2 miles passing through a nice forest before splitting once again.
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We forked to the right following the Pilot Rock pointer. This trail was much steeper and we climbed about 600′ in .7 miles to the base of Pilot Rock.
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In a perfect world we would have scrambled up to the top of the rock which wasn’t that much higher, but after hiking 80 plus miles and climbing at least 20,000′ over the previous 7 days we weren’t sure that we had the strength and muscle control left to safely climb to and descend from the top.

Rather than risk it we stopped just below the first section where we definitely would have need to use our hands to go any higher.
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We returned the way we’d come. Starting at the PCT put the hike at a little under 5 miles a little less than double what it would have been from the Pilot Rock Trailhead with some nice scenery which would have been even better earlier in the year when the numerous flowers were still in bloom. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Pilot Rock

Grizzly Peak and Beaver Dam Trail

Friday it was time to head home and we had originally planned a shorter hike up Grizzly Peak. The Grizzly Peak Trailhead is located off of Dead Indian Memorial Highway. From the Green Springs Inn where were staying we could take Hyatt Prarie Rd. between Hwy 66 and Dead Indian Memorial Hwy avoiding the windy drive back down into Ashland. We noticed the 2.1 mile Beaver Dam Trail was close to where we would come out on Dead Indian Memorial Highway from Hyatt Prarie Rd. so we decided to start our final day with that hike prior to Grizzly Peak. The trail started at the Daley Creek Campground which we surprisingly found gated closed. We could see a trail sign just on the other side of the gate so we parked on the shoulder and headed down.
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The first part of the trail clearly hadn’t been maintained for some time and it took a bit of searching at times to keep on it.
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After recrossing the creek, where a bridge had obviously been, the trail was in a little better shape. Then we came to a sign post that was set against a tree at a trail junction.
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The trail supposedly traveled .6 miles to the start of a .9 mile loop. The directions that this sign was giving made no sense. It indicated that the start of the loop was in the direction we’d just come. We disregarded the sign and took the path that seemed correct. We chose wisely and arrived at the signed start of the loop.
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Here we tried taking the left fork toward the creek which brought us to a creek crossing with another missing bridge.
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Neither of us were in the mood for a fording and we weren’t sure what the trail would be like on the far side so we turned around and headed back to the confusing sign. When we got back to the sign post we took a moment to attempt to figure out where the sign should have been placed and when we did we noticed the pointer for Daley Creek CG was not pointing in the direction we had come from early but toward a different path. We decided to follow it to see where it took us and ended up at a different trailhead further down the closed campground road where we had parked. Here were additional signs including a notice that parts of the trail were closed due to missing bridges.
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Later I checked the Forest Service website but it hadn’t been updated since 2013 regarding the trail and said that the campground would be reopening in May 2015. We should have checked the website before visiting, but in this case that wouldn’t have made much of a difference. After returning to our car we headed for Grizzly Peak arriving at the empty trailhead under the first virtually cloud free skies we’d had on the trip.
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The first portion of the trail offered nice views to the NE of Mt. McLoughlin, Union Peak, Crater Lakes rim, Mt. Thielsen, and Mt. Bailey.

Mt. McLoughlin
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Union Peak, Mt. Scott, Crater Lakes rim, Mt. Thielsen, and Mt. Bailey.
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Mt. Bailey
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Union Peak, Crater Lakes rim, and Mt. Thielsen
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Crater Lakes rim and Mt. Scott
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From the trailhead the trial travels 1.2 miles through open forest with wildflowers to the start of a 3 mile loop.
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We took the loop counter-clockwise passing by the viewless summit first.
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Then the trail passed a broad meadow.
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As the loop continued around the peak we came to another meadow with a view to the north.
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Here we could see the city of Medford and the Table Rocks.

Upper Table Rock
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Flowers here included camas
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and ookow which was very popular with a swallowtail butterfly.
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As we continued on the views shifted to the SW. Here Mt. Ashland and Wagner Butte which we had climbed the day before were visible.
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Mt. Ashland
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Wagner Butte
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We had entered an area burned in 2002 where the fire left open views and plenty of sunlight for wildflowers.
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Further along the views included Mt. Shasta, Black Butte, Pilot Rock, and Mt. Eddy.
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Mt. Shasta
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Black Butte and Pilot Rock
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Mt. Eddy
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and the distant Trinty Alps
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Just like all our other hikes in the area there were lots of birds happily singing along the way and here in the burnt trees they were easier to spot.
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Hummingbird going for the paintbrush
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We completed our loop and headed back down to the now packed trailhead. This was the first trail besides Lithia Park where we saw more than 5 other hikers on the trail but with views like this packed into only 5.4 miles we could see why it was a popular hike. Our first hiking trip to Southern Oregon had turned out well. We got to see new flowers, plenty of wildlife, and nice views along with a wonderful play. That’s the recipe for Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157653715322378

Mt. Ashland Meadows

After hiking to Boccard Point in the morning and resting for a couple of hours back at the Green Springs Inn we headed into Ashland. Our plan was to pick up a meal to go and then eat it at Grouse Gap Shelter on Mt. Ashland. The shelter makes for a good turnaround point for a moderate hike along the Pacific Crest Trail on the flanks of Mt. Ashland. After picking up some sandwiches from the Greenleaf Restaurant we headed toward the Mt. Ashland ski area south of Ashland. The Pacific Crest Trail crosses Mt. Ashland Rd. (Road 20) just beyond the 7 mile marker which is where we parked at a pullout with a signboard to begin our hike.
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We crossed the road and headed south on the PCT.
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The first section of trail passed through forest before emerging in the first of the meadows.
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It was a little early in the year for most of the flowers but we spotted a few.
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In the second meadow we had views of the now mostly cloud covered Mt. Shasta and the now cloud free Pilot Rock. A near reversal from that mornings hike.
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After leaving the second meadow the PCT crossed a drier slope dotted with red paintbrush and manzanita. We were also joined by some golden-mantled squirrels.
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After about a mile and a half we crossed a gravel road and entered another meadow.
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Just beyond this meadow was another smaller meadow where we spotted a deer far below at the meadows end.
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The trail continued to pass through alternating meadows and forest before entering the final broad meadow before the Grouse Gap Shelter. It was still early for flowers but this large meadow had the most we’d seen on this hike.
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From the meadow we could see the shelter at the far end.
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A quarter mile road led from the PCT down to the shelter.
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The shelter looks out across the meadow toward the summit of Mt. Ashland. We were below the clouds this time but the summit wasn’t.
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After eating our sandwiches we headed back. On the way we spotted another deer in the same meadow we had seen the earlier deer in, an owl who was nice enough to sit and have its picture taken, and a final deer amid the hillside trees.
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Then as we were driving back down the mountain a pair of turkeys emerged from the forest.
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This hike wound up being a little over 7 miles long with about 700′ of elevation gain. The Grouse Gap Shelter proved to be a perfect place to stop for a meal making this a great relaxing hike to end the day. Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157651795646153

Boccard Point – Soda Mountain Wilderness

After attending Pericles the day before we spent our third day in the Ashland area hiking. We were staying east of town at the Green Springs Inn and Cabins on Highway 66 in the Cascade-Siskyou National Monument under two miles from where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses that highway on its trek from Mexico to Canada. We were also only 20 minutes from the Hobart Bluff Trailhead where the PCT crosses Soda Mountain Road as it emerges from the Soda Mountain Wilderness. Our hike to Boccard Point started at the Hobart Bluff TH, but instead of heading north on the PCT toward Hobart Bluff we headed south into the wilderness. It was a damp and foggy morning as we set off.
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We spotted a number of different flowers before we even made it into the wilderness.
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Shortly after passing under some powerlines we entered the wilderness.
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The flower show continued as the trail passed several rocky meadows.
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The PCT also traveled through some more forested areas with other flowers.
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After 2.9 miles at a large wilderness sign the PCT meets an old road junction. Here we left the PCT and headed deeper into the wilderness on an abandoned road just to the left of the sign.
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Along this stretch of trail the old road curved around a damp wildflower meadow where there were many nearby birds and other wildlife.
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We had been in the fog almost the entire hike but just as we were starting the final quarter mile stretch to Boccard Point we emerged from under the clouds and were greeted with a view of Mt. Shasta.
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As the rocky outcrop of Boccard Point approached the views to the south kept getting better.
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To our right the edge of the clouds were lapping over Pilot Rock.
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To the left the clouds were busy drifting over the lookout tower on the summit of Soda Mountain.
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And behind us was the cloud that we had spent the morning in.
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The rocky terrain around Boccard Point was also dotted with wildflowers.
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We headed back under the cloud. On the way back by the damp meadow we spotted more wildlife including a pair of deer that Heather spied.
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The fog had at least lifted as we traveled back to the trailhead revealing more of the meadows we had passed earlier that morning.
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We skipped heading up to the lookout based on the cloud situation given the views we did get on Boccard Point. The total distance for the hike ended up being 10.5 miles with only about 1200′ of elevation gain. It was a gentle enough hike that we decided to head out again that afternoon after a brief rest back at the Green Springs Inn and Cabins. Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157653708085508