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Hiking Mt. St. Helens Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Goat Marsh Lake and Kalama Ski Trail – 06/25/2022

After a wet and mild Spring, Summer announced its arrival with our fist 90-degree temperatures just in time for the weekend. When it gets that warm we typically turn to the mountains for relief but that’s a little trickier this year due to there being quite a bit of snow still up in the Cascades. Even some of the lower elevation mountains are still in the process of melting out. For instance our original plan for this hike had been to visit Silver Star Mountain (post) via the Starway Trail, an approach that we haven’t done yet. While this mountain is accessible recent reports showed several remaining snowdrifts but more importantly the wildflower show is running late. To decide where to go I turned to my spreadsheet looking for hikes that I had scheduled in coming years around the end of June. Goat Marsh Lake was on the schedule for next year and while the Goat Marsh Research Natural Area is located with the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. It sits at a low enough elevation that there was a chance that snow wouldn’t be an issue. Using NOAA’s NOHRSC snow depth layer on the PCTA’s interactive map confirmed that snow shouldn’t be an issue at the lake or along the loop we were planning after visiting the lake using the Kalama Ski and Toutle Trails. With a forecast high of 78 degrees it would be warm but not unbearable so with that as our plan we got an early start and headed north to the Goat Marsh Lake Trailhead.

We parked a little up FR 8123 from the trailhead and walked back down to the start of the trail.
IMG_4715FR 8123

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This was the Kalama Ski Trail (Trail 231) and part of the loop we were planning as well as the way to reach the Goat Marsh Trail in a quarter mile.
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We followed this path to the junction where we turned right to visit the lake.
IMG_4722It appeared the trail had been rerouted at least a couple of times to cross this dry creek bed.

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This trail led slightly uphill for 0.5 mile to our first view of the lake. Along the way we’d spotted a cow elk in the trees but she disappeared before we could take a picture.
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IMG_4730Fence at the boundary for the Research Area.

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IMG_4738Goat Mountain and Goat Marsh Lake.

The trail continued around the lake for a little over three quarters of a mile. We spotted two more cow elk and moments later noticed a whole heard, including several calves, further to the north.
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IMG_4746Mt. St. Helens

IMG_4749Trillium

IMG_4750Vanilla leaf

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IMG_4754

IMG_4761Frog on a log.

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IMG_4769The two cow elk in the middle of the grassy area.

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IMG_4777Calves lined up, this one is a bit blurry due to them moving and the amount of zoom used.

IMG_4786The elk herd not zoomed in.

IMG_4787Zoomed

After watching the elk for a while we continued on.
IMG_4794Coralroot

IMG_4795Goat Mountain

IMG_4799Avalanche lilies

IMG_4804Mt. St. Helens

IMG_4806Marsh violet

IMG_4811Frog under a log.

IMG_4814Salmonberry

IMG_4816Sign near the end of the trail.

IMG_4818At the end of the trail.

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IMG_4821Beaver lodge

IMG_4826Duck and ducklings

IMG_4836Geese out in the grass.

We returned to the trailhead and crossed FR 8123 to stay on the Kamala Ski Trail.
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IMG_4844The road crossing.

We had a little trouble picking up the trail beyond the sign because there was also a campsite here with several use trails radiating from it. We used our GPS while we looked for the blue diamonds that would identify a ski trail. Heather was the first to spot one and we were soon on the ski trail heading toward Mt. St. Helens.
IMG_4848In the campsite trying to decide which way to go.

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IMG_4851Once we found it the trail was pretty obvious, at least for a while.

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Approximately three quarters of a mile from the road we came to a junction with the Blue Lake Horse Trail. The horse trail can be used to reach Blue Lake (post) to the north via the Toutle Trail or the same Toutle Trail to the south near the Kalama River (post) which we could have done here to shorten our loop. Instead we stayed straight on the ski trail.
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We had remarked several times during our Ashland vacation about the lack of mosquitos, and really insects overall, but that was not the case here. While they weren’t a big issue it was noticeably buggier here than it had been in Southern Oregon. The local birds were busy doing their part to reduce the number of bugs.
IMG_4862Gray jay with a snack.

IMG_4865Western tanager. Right after this photo he flew straight at us snatching an insect out of mid-air.

Four tenths a mile from the horse trail the ski trail made a turn away from the mountain and headed SE.
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The trail became a little more overgrown then came to a series of dry creek beds where we again had to hunt for signs of the trail.
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IMG_4881Butte Camp Dome in front of Mt. St. Helens.

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IMG_4891Crossing another dry bed.

IMG_4892Where is the trail?

IMG_4893In one of the creek beds. We were using the GPS along with looking for cairns and/or flagging.

IMG_4894Goat Mountain

IMG_4896You can’t really make them out in the photo but there is a pink flag and a blue diamond (on a downed tree) near the edge of the green trees.

We were now entering the section of trail that the NOHRSC indicated there could be some lingering snow patches.
IMG_4899There was another short brushy section before the forest opened up.

IMG_4900One of the strangest snow sightings we’ve come across.

IMG_4902My theory was bigfoot hung this.

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IMG_4916The NOHRSC estimated 2″-3.9″ of snow and that seemed to be about right.

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Unlike in the Siskiyous this melting snow had produced a fair number of mosquitos so we hustled through this section even though it was scenic.
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We encountered the first other hikers we’d seen when we arrived at the junction with the Toutle Trail (Approx 3 miles from the Goat Marsh Lake Trailhead). The junction was unsigned and they were considering which way to go to find the Loowit Trail. We pointed them north (left from the direction we were coming, straight for them) on the Toutle Trail and then turned south (right) ourselves onto the Toutle.
IMG_4921Looking back at the junction from the Toutle Trail. The post with no sign is the continuation of the Toutle while the trail on the left is the ski trail.

We followed this trail south for half a mile passing through a beargrass meadow that appears to have bloomed heavily last year and a lava flow with excellent views of Mt. St. Helens before dropping to FR 81 at the Red Rock Pass Trailhead.
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IMG_4932Last years beargrass.

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IMG_4937Strawberry

IMG_4938Phlox

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IMG_4952FR 81 below the trail.

IMG_4953Trail sign at the trailhead.

We crossed FR 81 and continued on the Toutle Trail.
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After 100 yards we came to a familiar fork where we had turned uphill in 2019 on our Cinnamon Ridge Hike linked above.
IMG_4961Raven flyover

IMG_4963The fork.

We were going in the opposite direction of what we’d done in 2019. Bugs were a bit more of a nuisance here so we kept a steady pace as we made a little climb then descended to McBride Lake and the Kalama River.
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IMG_4971One of several side creeks we crossed.

20220625_112201Trillium

20220625_112218Avalanche lily

IMG_4976Violet

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IMG_4993Goat Mountain beyond McBride Lake.

IMG_4994Sourgrass

IMG_5004Valerian

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IMG_5012Solomonseal

20220625_115233Saxifrage

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A little west of McBride Lake the Toutle Trail crosses the Kalama River on a closed road bed.
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IMG_5031Kalama River from the road bed.

Our original plan was blown up here. We had intended to follow the Toutle Trail to the start of the Kalama Ski Trail and then take that trail back uphill to the Goat Marsh Lake Trailhead. The problem was I had already forgotten about the Blue Lake Horse Trail and when I had glanced at the GPS and saw a trail extending north from the end of the road bed I mistook it for the ski trail so we followed the road bed a quarter mile to FR 81. (We had a paper map with us but didn’t pull it out to confirm.)
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IMG_5035The Blue Lake Horse Trail on the far side of FR 81.

When we crossed FR 81, two things that should have tipped us off to our mistake. First the sign clearly said “Blue Horse Trail” and second instead of blue diamonds there were orange diamonds with arrows marking this trail.
IMG_5036The sign did show FR 8123 which was the road the trailhead was on so that fed into us not realizing our mistake at first.

We followed this trail for a third of a mile before we realized what we’d done. We stopped and considered our options. We could back track three quarters of a mile to the Toutle Trail or a third of a mile to FR 81 and follow one of them west to the ski trail. Another option was to continue uphill on this trail to the junction we’d passed earlier and retrace our steps on the ski trail from there back to the trailhead. All of those options meant adding distance and retracing steps. Heather suggested another option, simply heading cross-country for FR 8123 and the trailhead.
IMG_5037An orange diamond on a tree ahead.

The forest was definitely conducive to cross-country travel so we struck off in a WNW direction. The cross-country hike was about as easy as we could have hoped for and after 0.7 miles we arrived a FR 8123 just 0.2 miles from our car.
IMG_5038Where we left the horse trail.

IMG_5039Typical terrain for the cross-country walk.

IMG_5040It seems like every time we go off-trail we come across a mylar balloon. We’ve really come to despise those things. We packed it and the ribbon out.

IMG_5041The trickiest part was crossing this dry stream bed but we fortunately came to it at a spot that was perfect for crossing.

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IMG_5043FR 8123

IMG_5045Coming up to the Goat Marsh Lake Trailhead (and our car) on FR 8123.

I had estimated a 10-12 mile hike with only about 800′ of total elevation gain and we came in at 10.8 miles.

Our track with the cross-country portion in orange.

While it had been a warm day, the combination of shade provided by the forest and a fairly steady breeze, it hadn’t been too hot. The hike had provided a lot of diverse scenery and great views of Mt. St. Helens. The wildlife was a big bonus along the Goat Marsh Trail too. It seems like we can always count on hikes in Mt. St. Helens area to be great ones. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Goat Marsh Lake

Categories
California Hiking Klamath Mountains Red Buttes Wilderness Trip report

Frog Pond – 06/18/2022

We typically try to find a short hike to do on our way home from vacation but those had plans had gone by the wayside when we re-arraigned our planned hikes due to Friday’s weather. The hike that had originally been planned for Friday was Sullivan’s featured hike #67 (“100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California” edition 4.2) – Frog Pond. Located in the California portion of the Red Buttes Wilderness Sullivan describes two options, a 3.6 mile out-and-back and a 7.9 mile loop. Under normal circumstances we would do the longer loop and that had been the plan but with the hike now being on the same day that we were driving back to Salem the shorter hike started to look more appealing. From Ashland we had to drive NW to Jacksonville then SW into California so this hike was not at all on our way home.

The out-and-back option climbs 1200′ in 1.8 miles to Frog Pond and a cabin ruin. Sullivan’s description of the hike calls this “..a good place to declare victory, have lunch, and head back.” The loop option climbs south to a viewpoint on a ridge then descends to Cameron Meadows which is described as a “grassy alpine bowl“. From this meadow the trail heads 2.4 miles down a wooded ridge to the Cameron Meadow Trailhead on FR 1040 leaving a 2.1 mile road walk to the Frog Pond Trailhead to complete the loop. (If we had done the loop we would have parked at the Cameron Meadows Trailhead and gotten the road walk out of the way first.)

The road walk didn’t sound appealing and grassy alpine bowls can be nice but it didn’t sound like a “must see” attraction either so we settled on the out-and-back, unless we changed our minds once we got to Frog Pond, and drove to the Frog Pond Trailhead. (Note that FR 1040 fords a creek between the two trailheads. This was no problem for our Outback on this day but in times of heavy rain/snowmelt the ford can become impassable.)
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The forecast called for partly sunny skies at some point during the day but it was clearly not in the morning hours as we set out into the foggy wilderness.
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IMG_4589Rhododendron

20220618_063325Iris

20220618_084025Star flower

IMG_4600A big cedar.

IMG_4703California ground cone

With 1200′ of elevation in under 2 miles we expected some pretty stiff climbing but for the most part the trail avoided being very steep and there were several breaks in the climb along the way where the trail either leveled off or dropped slightly. We also took a few breaks because we spotted several snowplants (Sarcodes sanguinea) which up until now had been on our bucket list of plants/flowers that we hadn’t seen on trail yet.
IMG_4601The bright red color made them fairly easy to spot amid the green leaves.

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It was a pretty climb through the old forest.
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20220618_084021Phlox

The snowplant wasn’t the only odd sight along the trail. A Brewer’s spruce had formed a nearly perfect circle of hanging pine needles creating what I called a shower curtain.
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IMG_4637I of course had to step inside.

IMG_4640Paintbrush

IMG_4644Serviceberry

IMG_4647A lone beargrass preparing to bloom.

IMG_4649Lupine also getting ready for a bloom.

IMG_4653Trillium ending theirs.

IMG_4656Frog Pond with the cabin ruins in the stand of cedars to the right.

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IMG_4667There was clearly going to be no view this morning so any though of either attempting the loop or going up to the viewpoint on the ridge ended here.

We checked out some of the flowers in the meadow and listened to the many birds in the area. The frogs were a little shy although they did put on a brief concert. I also continued around the south side of the meadow to see how hard the trail was to follow as I had read that it can be faint. I didn’t have any issued getting to the inlet creek where I turned around but could see where later in the year it might get tricky when the vegetation has had more time to grow.
20220618_073810Pretty face

20220618_073900Death camas

IMG_4672A yellow-rumped warbler hiding in the branches.

IMG_4678Fairy slippers

IMG_4680This was the trickiest part to follow at the time but it was pretty easy to see where it picked up in the trees on the far side of the grassy area.

IMG_4685The inlet creek.

After exploring we headed back down the way we’d come, stopping to gawk at the snowplants along the way. It was a quick, short outing but a really nice one and we were able to make it home to Salem at a reasonable time. It had been a successful vacation, we’d had some great hikes and we managed to cross 9 more (and part of a 10th) featured hikes off our to-do list. It’s nice to feel like we are finally making some progress again in the Southern Oregon/Northern California area. Happy Trails!

Our track for the hike.

Flickr: Frog Pond

Categories
Hiking Klamath/Siskiyou Mountains Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Bandersnatch & White Rabbit Trails

A change in the forecast led us to swap the final two hikes of our Ashland vacation when Friday called for rain and the possibility of thunderstorms. Heading into the Red Buttes Wilderness under those conditions didn’t sound like the best idea so instead we looked to a closer pair of Sullivan’s featured hikes in the Ashland Trails System. The two featured hikes are a 3.5 mile lollipop loop using the Bandersnatch Trail (hike #53 edition 4.2) and a 4 mile lollipop on the Mike Uhtoff and White Rabbit Trails (hike #54 edition 4.2). Our plan was to combine the two hikes utilizing several of the other trails within the trail system. Our plan was to start at the Witzend Trailhead and take the Waterline Trail from there to the Bandersnatch Trail where we would turn left
following it to the Red Queen Trail. We would then take a right on the Red Queen Trail following it to the Caterpillar Trail where we would turn left to a junction where we thought we would turn right onto the Mike Uhtoff Trail. (Spoiler – you have to first take the Queen of Hearts Loop to reach the Mike Uhtoff Trail.) We then planned to follow the Mike Uhtoff Trail to a junction with a trail from the Oredson-Todd Woods where we would hook up with the White Rabbit Trail. We could then turn left onto it and follow it to an upper trailhead where we could pick up the Alice in Wonderland Trail which would bring us back to the Bandersnatch Trail. A right on the Bandersnatch Trail would then bring us to the Jubjub Trail where a left turn would lead us back again to the Bandersnatch Trail section that we’d first been on which we would follow back to the Waterline Trail and our car. If that sounds confusing you’re not alone, we spent much of the hike confused but for the most part successfully managed to follow our plan.

We got a little later start than usual due to taking advantage of the full breakfast offered at the motel but there was still only one or two other cars at the trailhead when arrived.
IMG_4266Sign for the Witzend Trail at the trailhead. Not one of the trails we wanted today.

IMG_4267The Waterline Trail is the smaller gravel roadbed to the left of the fire hydrant.

IMG_4268Despite the sign saying Snark online maps show that trail starting further up the Waterline Trail.

IMG_4273The Snark Trail splitting off to the right.

IMG_4274Turning left onto the Bandersnatch Trail.

There were a few pieces of art along the lower section of trail.
IMG_4275Marty the Pacific Fisher

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The Bandersnatch Trail climbed uphill passed a number of wildflowers and a whole lot of poison oak.
20220617_072155Henderson’s stars

IMG_4292Paintbrush and blue sky.

IMG_4296Mariposa lily

20220617_072903Ookow

20220617_072919Diamond clarkia

20220617_073207Some of that poison oak.

IMG_4308A cryptantha

20220617_073331Honeysuckle

IMG_4312Madia and winecup clarkia

IMG_4315Bell catchfly

IMG_4318View down toward Ashland.

IMG_4320Picnic table at the top of the hill.

From the picnic table the Bandersnatch Trail descended to a crossing of the bike only BTI Trail before arriving at the junction with the Red Queen Trail.
IMG_4325Crossing the BTI Trail

IMG_4326Baresteam wild buckwheat

IMG_4332Wallflower

20220617_075706heart-leaf milkweed

IMG_4336Wild onion

IMG_4339Another Snark Trail encounter.

IMG_4340The Red Queen Trail junction ahead.

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IMG_4343Bluehead gilia

We followed the Red Queen Trail for 1.6 miles to the Caterpillar Trail.
IMG_4349Madrones along the Red Queen Trail.

IMG_4352National Forest boundary.

IMG_4355Lupine

IMG_4357Clouding up.

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IMG_4364Deer brush

IMG_4366A madrone and a ponderosa

IMG_4368Nearing the junction with Road 2060 and the Caterpillar Trail.

IMG_4371Sign for the Caterpillar Trail across the road.

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After 0.4 miles on the Caterpillar Trail we came to a series of signs and junctions.
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IMG_4376Iris

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IMG_4381The first signed junction with more signs in the distance.

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After consulting the maps we had and reading all the signs we headed uphill past a sign for the Queen of Hearts Trail which listed the Mike Uhtoff Trail as being 0.15 away.
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The one mistake we made on our route came at the next signed junction which was just a short distance uphill. At this junction with a small bench the sign only listed the Queen of Hearts and pointed left and in the direction that we had come from. A third trail continued uphill which we mistook for the Mike Uhtoff Trail thinking that we had gone the 0.15 miles and it just wasn’t signed.
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This path led uphill past some boulders and nice madrone trees before reaching a fence at some private land where it made a hard left and followed the fence line.
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IMG_4405There were a lot of cool madrones along the trails.

The trail followed the fence line to a ridge with what looked like it would have been a decent viewpoint on a clearer day.
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IMG_4418Madrone bark

The trail followed the ridge to the left away from the fence and after a gradual initial descent dove almost straight down the ridge end.
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This design didn’t seem to fit with the other trails we’d seen and been on and we wondered why the Uhtoff Trail was different, then we came to a large junction near a bench where a sign on our left for the Mike Uhtoff Trail pointed to a different path.
IMG_4431Arriving at the junction with the Mike Uhtoff sign to the left.

IMG_4432That isn’t the trail we were on so where were we?

As I mentioned above we learned later that we should have stuck to the Queen of Hearts Loop a little longer instead of heading uphill on the unsigned trail that we’d taken. As far as we can tell the trail that we were on has no name but I was able to find at least one map showing it as a red dotted line. While we were thoroughly confused about how we’d missed the Mike Uhtoff Trail and had no idea what trail we’d just been on we quickly recognized where we were on the map at a junction with the White Rabbit Trail which we would be coming back up.
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For now we stayed right on the Mike Uhtoff Trail (now it really was) and descended through more madrones.
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IMG_4439Still no real rain but it was clouding up even more.

20220617_094755Grand collomia

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IMG_4460Silverleaf phacelia

There were a number of connector trails running between the Uhtoff and White Rabbit Trails but they were fairly well signed allowing us to stick to the Uhtoff.
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We did turn off the Uhtoff when it crossed the White Rabbit Trail above a junction with the Oredson-Todd Woods Trail.
IMG_4466We turned right onto this road bed which is the White Rabbit Trail.

IMG_4468We hiked downhill on the White Rabbit to a bench (just visible through the vegetation on the left) at the trail junction.

IMG_4469Trail to the Oredson-Todd Woods.

Sullivan showed a map as being located a little further down the White Rabbit Trail and we were hoping it was a full sized map so we continued downhill to see if maybe it could tell us where we’d gone wrong earlier. There were a lot of bachelor buttons, a non-native but pretty flower, along this stretch of the White Rabbit Trail.
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We were losing a fair amount of elevation (and we’d already lost a lot) so when we saw what appeared to be just another small map on a sign post in the distance we decided to turn back onto the Uhtoff Trail and head back uphill.
IMG_4482We turned left here. There is a sign downhill on the left with what looked to be a small white map which we’d seen on other trail signs. These gave very limited information for bike routes.

We followed the Uhtoff Trail back up to the crossing of the White Rabbit Trail where we again turned onto it, now heading uphill.
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IMG_4492One of the white maps at the White Rabbit/Cheshire Cat junction.

We followed the White Rabbit for 1.8 miles ignoring side trails. The trail gained over 500′ via a series of switchbacks before leveling out a bit and then descending to a trailhead on Ashland Loop Road.
IMG_4493A connector for the Uhtoff Trail at a switchback.

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IMG_4500Large boulders near the Looking Glass Trail jct.

IMG_4504Passing the bench at the junction where we’d discovered that we had not in fact been on the Mike Uhtoff Trail.

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IMG_4510This section was a little confusing. The trail dropped to a junction in a small basin. We ignored this sign which pointed to another road bed with a gate.

We also ignored the March Hare Trail which was a very short trail heading steeply uphill only to rejoin the White Rabbit Trail a short distance up.
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IMG_4514Looking down the March Hare Trail (it took less than 2 minutes to get from the bottom to the top via the White Rabbit Trail).

IMG_4519Yet another side trail = Mad Hatter.

IMG_4520The Queen of Hearts Loop junction with the White Rabbit Trail.

IMG_4524Sign as we neared the trailhead.

IMG_4530Lots of cars here.

IMG_4534This was the map that we needed earlier.

From the trailhead we followed a sign for the Alice and Wonderland Trail.
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Sullivan mentioned that the trail might not be open due to it crossing some private land which the map at the trailhead also showed but there was nothing stating that the trail was not open and I’d read some recent trip reports from people who had hiked/biked it so we decided to give it a try. We ran into several other trail users and no signs to indicate the trail was not open for use.
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IMG_4542Madrone circle.

IMG_4545A couple of short spurs went up and over small hills, we stuck to the more level road bed.

When we reached the Bandersnatch Trail we turned right. While the Alice in Wonderland Trail continues it is only open to bikes beyond the Bandersnatch.
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We left the Bandersnatch Trail when we reached a sign for the Jubjub Trail where we turned left.
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The Jubjub Trail crossed the Alice in Wonderland, BTI, and Red Queen Trails before ending at the Bandersnatch.
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IMG_4562Rain to the north over Grizzly Peak (post).

IMG_4565Approaching the BTI crossing.

IMG_4567Red Queen crossing.

IMG_4572Descending to the Bandersnatch junction.

We turned right on the Bandersnatch Trail and climbed back up to the picnic table we had passed earlier and retraced our steps to the Witzend Trailhead.
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IMG_4577Marty the Pacific Fisher from the other side.

IMG_4578The Waterline Trail 0.1 mile from the Witzend Trailhead.

We wound up with a 9.5 mile hike with over 2000′ of elevation gain which was a surprising amount for a hike so close to town but there were a lot of ups and downs. Despite the abundance of poison oak it’s a fun area to hike in. The Lewis Carroll themed trail names add to the fun and the madrone trees with their twists and bends seem to belong in Alice in Wonderland. The trails are wide enough that the poison oak was never a concern and for the most part are well signed. There are just so many that criss-cross and intersect that even with decent signage it’s easy to get confused.

We managed to stay pretty dry as it only sprinkled a couple of times while we were hiking. That changed in the afternoon as it was pouring when we ventured out for a meal at Xeres Mediterranean Grill. The food was great there and they had a nice little market as well. We packed up as much as we could that night so that we could get a nice early start in the morning for our final hike of the trip before heading home. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Bandersnatch and White Rabbit Trails

Categories
Hiking Klamath/Siskiyou Mountains Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Siskiyou Peak & Gap – 06/16/2022

Much like our first day in the Ashland area (post) we spent our second day hiking on the PCT in the Siskiyou Mountains. Just as we had the day before we had planned to head both north and south from our trailhead which was supposed to be at Siskiyou Gap. The driving directions given by the Forest Service say to take FR 20 -Mt. Ashland Road, but we opted to take FR 22 – Wagner Creek Road per Sullivan’s driving directions. This road was in good shape but about halfway to the trailhead our “Low Tire Pressure” light came on. Those have become my most dreaded three words while on vacation as it seems to happen every 2 or 3 trips we make. FR 22 ends at FR 20 about three quarters of a mile from the trailhead so we turned right onto FR 20 which was filled with two large pools of water. The first hole wasn’t bad but the second was deceptively deep and the Outback had a momentary struggle getting through. Just beyond this puddle we passed through a 5-way junction staying on FR 20 which was full of potholes. With the tire light on I decided enough was enough and turned the car around. We drove back through the water filled hole and parked at the FR 22/20 junction.
IMG_4265The deepest hole, it doesn’t look too bad here.

IMG_4063Potholes on FR 20. These turned out to be the worst of the stretch between the junction and Siskiyou Gap but we didn’t know that until we’d walked this road later in the day.

While not an official trailhead the PCT passes through the 5-way junction that we’d parked near so we easily hopped onto the trail.
IMG_3954The PCT was just a few yards into the forest from the FR 20/22 junction.

Today we headed north (left) on the PCT first hoping to reach the summit of Siskiyou Peak before clouds started moving in. Heading into vacation the forecast for the day had been for mostly sunny skies with rains showers moving in the next afternoon (Friday) but by Wednesday night things had shifted and now the showers were arriving Thursday with rain Friday and showers Saturday.
IMG_3955

IMG_3967Jessica sticktight?

There were occasional glimpses of Mt. Shasta to the south along this stretch of trail.
IMG_3973

IMG_3983Mt. Shasta and Black Butte (post). The layer of smoke from the day before seemed to have blown out overnight.

IMG_3977Paintbrush

We followed the PCT north approximately two and a quarter miles to a ridge on the north side of Siskiyou Peak where a clear path led uphill towards the summit.
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IMG_3992Siskiyou Peak from the PCT.

IMG_3999Lupine and pussypaws

IMG_4004The PCT heading toward Mt. Ashland from the ridge where we left it.

IMG_4006Towers on Mt. Ashland.

IMG_4008The trail up Siskiyou Peak.

It was a little over a quarter mile to the summit.
IMG_4011Observation Peak to the left, where we had been the day before with Big Red Mountain on the right, where we were going later today.

IMG_4011Mt. Ashland to the right.

IMG_4016Mt. McLoughlin (post) dealing with a few clouds.

IMG_4018The final rocky climb to the summit.

IMG_4021Mt. Shasta from the summit.

IMG_4022

IMG_4024The snowy Marble Mountains (post) with Observation Peak to the right.

IMG_4027Some of the Marble Mountains.

IMG_4028I believe these are peaks in the Russian Wilderness.

While this was a nice view, the view from Observation Peak had been just a bit better as from it you could see the Red Buttes which were now ironically hidden behind Observation Peak.
IMG_4033Observation Peak and Big Red Mountain with Dutchman Peak in a cloud behind Big Red.

IMG_4043Our shadows from the summit.

IMG_4044Dutchman Peak emerged from the clouds to make an appearance over Big Red Mountain.

After a nice break at the summit we headed back to the PCT and returned to the 5-way junction.
IMG_4051Wagner Butte (post) on the left with the PCT on the hillside below FR 20. Mt. McLoughlin is behind the ridge middle right.

IMG_4059Arriving at the junction.

From the junction we had the option of following the PCT almost two miles to Siskiyou Gap or walking FR 20 for 0.7 miles. Sullivan didn’t show anything of particular interest along that stretch of PCT and when we saw that the section of trail began by heading uphill we both opted for FR 20.
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IMG_4064Trillium along FR 20.

IMG_4069California Jacob’s ladder

IMG_4071FR 20 looking a little better here.

IMG_4078Pretty face

20220616_115714Larkspur

20220616_115723Larkspur

20220616_120056Mariposa lily

IMG_4081FR 20 became a little rutted just before Siskiyou Gap.

IMG_4087Mt. Shasta from the gap.

IMG_4088Mt. Shasta

IMG_4091Siskiyou Gap

We headed uphill on the PCT from the gap and almost immediately spotted a doe who looked like she might be expecting.
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IMG_4096

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From the gap the PCT climbed steadily for a mile to a spring on a hillside filled with white Drummond’s anemone and yellow buttercups.
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20220616_090218Chocolate lily

IMG_4106Violets, larkspur and alpine pennycress.

20220616_090449Ballhead waterleaf

IMG_4112Bleeding heart

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IMG_4119

IMG_4121A trickle of water flowing down over the rocks along the trail.

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IMG_4134

IMG_4138Anemones and buttercups

IMG_4139It’s hard to tell just how many flowers there were from the photo but it was very impressive to the naked eye.

IMG_4140A cloud over Wagner Butte which stayed this way the rest of the day.

Beyond the spring the PCT reentered forest for a little over half a mile before trading the trees in for colorful rock cliffs.
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IMG_4147A few small patches of snow were all that was left along the PCT.

IMG_4152Starting to leave the trees behind as the PCT passes below Big Red Mountain.

From the first set of big rocks which Sullivan refers to as “Crags” it was 1.3 miles to our turnaround point on a ridge above the Monogram Lakes.
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IMG_4156

IMG_4157Looking toward Medford to the NE.

IMG_4158Upper Table Rock (post)

IMG_4161You could see where this large chunk of rock used to be.

IMG_4166Something budding out.

20220616_101008Dummond’s anemone – the blueish/purplish hue on some was quite pretty.

IMG_4172Violets

IMG_4175There was a decent sized beargrass meadow along this section which appeared to have bloomed last year.

20220616_101146Anemones

IMG_4176A saxifrage

IMG_4183Siskiyou Peak from the trail.

IMG_4188Splithair Indian paintbrush and a lomatium.

IMG_4187Phlox

IMG_4200A small green pond and two of the Monogram Lakes.

IMG_4195The green pond.

Sullivan mentioned an old mine cart located between the PCT and the lakes and described how to find it so I decided to give that a try while Heather took a break on the ridge. I followed the PCT downhill a tenth of a mile and set off cross country along the ridge to a snag with cable wrapped around the bottom (this was visible from the PCT but it took a while to spot).
IMG_4203Looking down the ridge.

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I continued down the ridge past the cable until I came to a pit where an old mining trail led back along the cliffs below the cable.
IMG_4206Heather sitting up on the PCT while I made my way down the ridge.

IMG_4208The pit with the mining trail on the far side.

IMG_4209Old mining trail.

IMG_4210The mining cart.

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IMG_4212Cable running up to the snag.

I climbed back up to Heather and we headed back stopping along the way to admire the many wildflowers.
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IMG_4234

IMG_4241I spotted something moving down in the meadow here.

IMG_4242Had too use a lot of zoom to determine it was a deer.

20220616_114736Chocolate lily

IMG_4254Mt. Shasta and Black Butte from Siskiyou Gap on the way back.

IMG_4258Our final view of Mt. Shasta this trip.

IMG_4257Mt. Eddy (post)

We were happy to see that none of our tires were flat (or even appeared all that low). We drove back down to Ashland and stopped at the Les Schwab. They added some air to the tires which took care of the light by the time we’d gotten back to the motel. Since it hadn’t started raining yet we decided to walk back to Caldera Brewing to try some different beers, split an appetizer and get dessert. It had indeed clouded up but for the most part the clouds had been high enough not to adversely impact the views. As a bonus they kept the temperature down making for a comfortable 12.6 mile hike with approximately 2250′ of cumulative elevation gain.

Happy Trails!

Flickr: Siskiyou Peak & Gap

Categories
California Hiking Klamath Mountains Klamath/Siskiyou Mountains Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Observation Peak – 06/15/2022

The forecast for our stay in Ashland was for a sunny Wednesday and Thursday followed by a partially sunny Friday before rain showers moved in Friday evening and into Saturday. That worked well for our planned set of hikes which were to spend the first three days at higher elevations in the Siskiyou Mountains and then on Saturday hiking in the foothills before heading home. Up first was a hike to Observation Peak just off the Pacific Crest Trail not far from where that trail crosses the Oregon/California border. In fact the start of Sullivan’s featured hike (Hike #63 in “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California” edition 4.2) is at the Stateline Trailhead for the PCT. Sullivan lists this hike as open beginning late June so we were a couple of weeks early but we had been watching the snow level using the NOHRSC Snow Analysis Data layer on the Pacific Crest Trail Associations interactive map to check the snow depth and all seemed clear. Some late season snows hadn’t been enough to make up for the drought conditions that have plagued the area.

From the trailhead the hike to Observation Peak and back is just under 5.5 miles so we were open to other options to lengthen the hike a bit. While Observation Peak was north along the PCT Donomore Meadows, just across the California border, to the south offered a chance to see a cabin and the meadows. After parking in a pullout near the PCT crossing of Forest Road 2025 we set off south on the trail to visit the meadows before heading north to Observation Peak.
IMG_3548The PCT heading south from the Stateline Trialhead

From the trailhead the PCT descends a little over 550′ in approximately 1.5 miles to a footbridge across a creek in the lower portion of Donomore Meadows which we thought would be a good turnaround point for this part of our hike.
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IMG_3556Iris

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IMG_3563A register is located 0.4 miles from the trailhead at the Oregon/California border.

IMG_3564We were long overdue for a visit to California, our last hike in the state was way back in 2018 at the Lava Beds National Monument (post).

IMG_3566A good reminder of how much of the PCT is located in CA.

20220615_065219Pussytoes

IMG_3575First look at Donomore Meadows.

IMG_3585This road crossing is just over a mile from the trailhead. The Donomore Cabin is just up the road to the right.

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IMG_3588The cabin was built in 1935.

IMG_3589The meadow below the cabin.

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IMG_3602Death camas in the meadow.

We’d seen one doe in the meadow and as we began to descend to the creek crossing we spotted another one below us.
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We watched each other for a bit before she started to head off. When she moved we both noticed what appeared to be another set of ears in the grass. It turned out to be the smallest fawn either of us had seen in the wild. We watched from afar as mom led the youngster to the safety of the trees then we continued down to the footbridge.
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IMG_3625

IMG_3627

IMG_3630Mariposa lily

IMG_3632Chocolate lily

IMG_3637Cinquefoil?

20220615_072644Violets

20220615_072727Bistort

IMG_3643Heather passing through the meadow.

IMG_3645There wasn’t much to the brushy creek but it made for a definitive turnaround point.

After pausing at the footbridge we climbed back up to Oregon and the Stateline Trailhead and set off in the other direction for Observation Peak.
20220615_080217California ground cone

IMG_3663PCT heading north from the Stateline Trailhead.

This section the PCT passed through a manzanita covered hillside with views of Ductchman Peak.
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20220615_082356Pasque flower

IMG_3680Grayback Mountain in the distance with a small patch of snow.

IMG_3688One of three springs the trail passes on the way to Observation Peak.

IMG_3690Marsh marigolds

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IMG_3695Alpine pennycress

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IMG_3702Another spring with marsh marigolds and glacier lilies.

IMG_3714Scraggy Mountain

The views along the PCT were very good as it passed through several open hillsides.
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IMG_3719Looking SE to the Red Buttes (post), Preston Peak, and Grayback Mountain.

IMG_3720Kangaroo Mountain and Red Butte with Preston Peak, Twin Peak and El Capitan behind in the Siskiyou Wilderness.

IMG_3723View south.

IMG_3724Part of the Marble Mountains (post)

One and a half miles from the trailhead we rounded a ridge end above Kettle Lake. The lake basin still had a fair amount of snow and there were a few small lingering patches on the PCT.
IMG_3734Kettle Lake through the trees.

IMG_3737

From the ridge end above Kettle Lake it was just over half a mile to another ridge on the NW flank of Observation Peak. We left the PCT here and first checked out the rocky ridge to the north where wildflowers were just getting going. Then we headed cross country a half mile to the summit. The open hillside made for an easy off trail climb and was easier than if we had been trying to continue on the PCT because that trail disappeared under a large snow drift on the other side of the ridge.
IMG_3744Heading up to the ridge.

IMG_3748Dutchman Peak from the ridge.

IMG_3751Not sure if these are mule’s ears or a balsamroot.

IMG_3753Splithair Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja schizotricha)

IMG_3760Swallowtail on phlox.

IMG_3764Wildflowers on the ridge.

IMG_3766Cutleaf daisy?

IMG_3767Snow drifts covering the PCT.

IMG_3769Lance-leaf Spring Beauty
Claytonia lanceolata

IMG_3774Heading for the summit.

Mt. McLoughlin (post) came into view to the NE as we climbed.
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IMG_3776

IMG_3779Pilot Rock (post) to the east was slightly smokey.

IMG_3785A rockcress

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Once we reached the summit Mt. Shasta came into view to the SW.
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IMG_3807Mt. Shasta above a layer of smoke that mostly hid Black Butte (post). Mt. Eddy (post) is the snowy peak to the right.

IMG_3813I think these peaks are a mix of the Russian Wilderness in the forefront and Trinity Alps behind. Bruce correct me if I am wrong on that :).

A red can houses a summit register tucked in a rock pile at the summit. As I was flipping through looking for a page to sign on I came across what we considered a huge find, a bootsonthetrail.blog business card.
IMG_3814Rock pile at the summit.

IMG_3823Our big find. I took a couple of pictures and put the card back for someone else to find (and added one of ours).

It was a great temperature at the summit so we took an extended rest (and way too many photos) before heading back.
IMG_3830There were dozens of ladybugs in the rock pile.

IMG_3827One of many photos of Mt. Shasta. We don’t get too many chances to see this Cascade Mountain.

IMG_3831We could see Mt. Thielsen (post), the rim of Crater Lake (post) and Mt. McLoughlin beyond Wagner Butte (post) and Mt. Ashland (post).

IMG_3835The peaks around the rim of Crater Lake.

IMG_3863Mt. Thielsen to the left of Crater Lake.

IMG_3878Mt. Bailey (post)

IMG_3843The Red Buttes in front of Preston Peak.

IMG_3839Grayback Mountain

On the way back down we were concentrating on any flowers that we’d missed on the way up.
IMG_3886Buckwheat

20220615_103859Alpine pennycress

20220615_104325Quill-leaf Lewisia
Lewisia leeana

IMG_3903Larkspur

IMG_3909Chipmunk having a snack.

IMG_3914One of two hairstreaks we encountered on the PCT.

IMG_3916The 2nd hairstreak.

I decided to detour at Kettle Lake and headed cross country downhill a tenth of a mile to check it out while Heather continued toward the car.
IMG_3923Where I left the PCT.

IMG_3925Lots of this orange fungus in the forest.

IMG_3926

IMG_3928

IMG_3929

IMG_3934

While I was scoping out the lake Heather was getting wildflower photos.
20220615_113100Bee on a marsh marigold.

20220615_113143Glacier lily

20220615_113236Trillium

20220615_113635Anemone

20220615_113648Buttercup?

IMG_3944Passing through the manzanita section.

IMG_3948

The hike came in at a reasonable 8.8 miles with a little over 1800′ of elevation gain. A reasonable day with lots of great scenery.

After showering and changing at the motel we walked to Caldera Brewing which was only about 0.2 miles from our room. Neither the food or beer disappointed and the view from the restaurant was good too. It was the perfect end to our first day in Ashland. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Observation Peak

Categories
Hiking Old Cascades Oregon Rogue-Umpqua Divide Roseburg Area Trip report

Illahee Rock & Twin Lakes – 06/14/2022

Our original plan for this vacation was to do a pair of hikes on the way down to Roseburg on Monday, Illahee Rock and Twin Lakes but the weather hadn’t cooperated with that plan. Monday was cloudy so doing two viewpoint hikes didn’t make sense. Instead, we had spent Monday visiting various waterfalls along Highway 138 (post). The plan for Tuesday had been a hike along Cow Creek on the way south to Ashland but during one of the many drives between trailheads on Monday we had decided instead to do the Illahee Rock and Twin Lakes hikes on Tuesday, weather permitting, and to save Cow Creek for another year. There were two reasons for this change. First Twin Lakes is one of Sullivan’s featured hikes while Cow Creek is not. The second reason was that we were both still dealing with blisters from our 17.5-mile outing at the Columbian White-Tailed Deer Refuge three days earlier (post) and with at least four creek crossings on the Cow Creek Trail the probability of us having to ford the creek and soaking our feet didn’t sound like the best idea. Before going to sleep Monday, we checked the forecast which was “Becoming Sunny”. I don’t think we’d ever come across that particular forecast, but it sounded hopeful so Tuesday morning we packed up the car and headed east once again on Highway 138.

Our first stop was at Illahee Rock, a former featured hike that was hit with fires in both 2017 and 2021. Two lookout towers sit atop Illahee Rock and the Umpqua National Forest website listed the Illahee Lookout Trail as open but gave no update on conditions. We wound up cutting the drive short by three quarters of a mile due to a decent amount of debris in the road due to damage caused by the fires.
IMG_3119We parked in a pullout just before this section.

The “becoming sunny” forecast was obviously not for the morning as we found ourselves in heavy fog as we hiked along FR 100.
IMG_3125The Boulder Creek Wilderness (post) under the slowly rising clouds.

After 0.75 miles on FR 100 we came to FR 104 on the left which led to the Illahee Rock Trailhead. Before heading up to the lookouts though we wanted to make an attempt to reach nearby Wild Rose Point which Sullivan described in his book.
IMG_3135FR 104

We passed FR 104 and continued on FR 100 for another 0.2 miles to a fork.
IMG_3136Rabbit on FR 100

IMG_3140Lots of fawn lilies along the road and trails.

IMG_3147Red flowering currant

IMG_3149Is this an apple tree? Whatever it is it seemed very out of place.

IMG_3148FR 105 on the left and FR 100 on the right.

We could see a post for the trail on the hillside in brush but had a bit of trouble figuring out where the trail began at the fork. We first looked for it right at the fork then a bit down FR 100 but it was actually just up FR 105 next to the post for the road.
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This little path brought us to the post in the brush where it was already obvious this was going to be an adventure.
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The 2021 fire had burned over this area as well and it didn’t appear that any maintenance had been done aside from some occasional flagging and cairns. We decided to give it a go though since it was under 1.5 miles to Wild Rose Point. We picked our way uphill and found some decent tread in some trees that had been spared by the fire.
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IMG_3158

Another uphill through a burned area brought us to another short section of better trail before fallen trees began to be a problem. A little over half a mile in near Illahee Spring we decided to turn back. Several larger trees blocked the trail head and looked like more trouble than it was worth to try and navigate around and even if we did manage there wasn’t going to be a view due to the fog.
IMG_3160A cairn on the left.

IMG_3166Damp trillium

IMG_3167Downed trees across the trail near Illahee Spring.

We returned to FR 100 and walked back to FR 104 which we now turned up.
IMG_3176

IMG_3180Gooseberry

Two tenths of a mile up FR 104 we came to the Illahee Rock Trailhead.
IMG_3181

This trail was in much better shape and we had no problem following it the three quarters of a mile up to the lookouts.
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IMG_3183The tread was a little faint but otherwise in good shape.

IMG_3195Lots of cool rock outcrops along the trail.

IMG_3200Fawn lilies

IMG_3201Typical trail condition.

IMG_3221Ragwort and blue-eyed Mary covered hillside.

20220614_083925Blue-eyed Mary

20220614_083942Ragwort

IMG_3224Rocky hillside below the lookouts.

20220614_084842Larkspur

IMG_32311925 Cupola style lookout.

IMG_32361956 L-4 tower lookout

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IMG_3240

IMG_3243Paintbrush

We spent some time exploring the summit and checking out the lookouts while we waited for it to become sunny. We eventually gave up on that and headed back down.
IMG_3246

IMG_3247Illahee Rock

IMG_3249A sliver of hope for blue sky at some point.

It wasn’t more than 10 minutes after we started down before the blue sky started appearing.
IMG_3253

IMG_3260

IMG_3262

IMG_3271Back at the trailhead.

IMG_3275On FR 100

IMG_3278Wallflower

IMG_3286The Boulder Creek Wilderness

We’d missed out on a view from Illahee Rock but we had another opportunity coming up on our hike to Twin Lakes. We drove back down FR 100 to Highway 138 and turned left (east) for 2.25 miles to FR 4770 where we turned right at a sign for the Twin Lakes and North Umpqua Trail. We followed FR 4770 to the Twin Lakes Trailhead . (The east trailhead not the west.)
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The same 2017 fire that burned Illahee Rock affected the Forest here as well although many large trees did survive. We followed the Twin Lakes Trail for 0.6 miles to a junction.
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IMG_3307Meadow along the trail.

IMG_3310Trillum

IMG_3317

IMG_3319Becoming sunny in action. From this viewpoint Diamond Peak, Mt. Thielsen, and Mt. Bailey are visible sans clouds.

IMG_3320A carpet of blue-eyed Mary at the viewpoint.

IMG_3325Illahee Rock was visible from the viewpoint despite the clouds.

IMG_3326The lookout tower on Illahee Rock.

IMG_3331

IMG_3334Indian plum

IMG_3338Hellbore starting to sprout in a meadow.

IMG_3344Waterleaf

IMG_3348Nearing the junction.

At the first junction we stayed right then veered left at the next, avoiding the Deception Creek Trail, and descended through a meadow to the Twin Lakes Shelter.
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IMG_3350

IMG_3353Woodpecker

IMG_3356Gray jay

IMG_3357The second junction where we turned left.

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IMG_3364

IMG_3365

IMG_3367

IMG_3368Mushroom near the shelter.

After a short break at the shelter we started around the bigger of the two lakes going counter-clockwise. We passed a walk in campground and continued along the lake shore.
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IMG_3373

The lake was very colorful and it was easy to see into the water which allowed us to watch fish as they swam around.
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IMG_3381No fish but it was easy to see them when they were present.

IMG_3382This big rock added to the scenery.

IMG_3385We couldn’t decide if that was an old bridge or dock in the water.

IMG_3386Passing behind the big rock.

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IMG_3388The rock turned out to be split.

IMG_3394

IMG_3396There was a lot of water in the section between the two lakes. Fortunately there didn’t seem to be any mosquitos which was really surprising but in a good way.

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We weren’t entirely sure where the trail between the two lakes was and we started thinking that we’d missed it so when we saw an opportunity we headed cross country toward the smaller lake.
IMG_3398This looked like it could be a trail.

IMG_3399How were there not any mosquitos in here.

IMG_3401A local wondering what we were up to.

We spotted more large rocks with a bit of a shelter underneath and were headed for it when we spotted an actual trail running by the rocks.
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We followed this trail to the second lake and made our way around it counter-clockwise as well.
IMG_3407

IMG_3408The outlet creek.

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IMG_3413Yellow-rumped warbler

IMG_3420

IMG_3425Red-breasted sapsucker

IMG_3429Stellar’s jay

There was still snow in the basin on the south side of the lake making this side very wet.
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IMG_3434

A 1995 log shelter used to be located on this side of the lake but was lost to the 2017 fire. A small outhouse and a whole lot of garbage (people are awful sometimes) is all that was left.
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After completing the loop we followed the trail back toward the larger lake passing the boulder shelter and a balancing rock.
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IMG_3444

IMG_3446This cracked us up, someone just nailed the planks into the tree that broke the bridge.

This trail led back to the trail around the larger lake.
IMG_3447A small sign at the junction.

We finished the loop around the larger lake and stopped again at the shelter.
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A 1.1 mile climb from the first junction that we’d come to earlier would take us to a viewpoint above the lakes.
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We had been waiting to see if it really did become sunny before deciding on this optional side trip but now that there was quite a bit of blue sky overhead we decided to head up.
IMG_3473Another meadow along the 1.1 mile section.

IMG_3484The 2017 fire hit this section pretty hard.

There was a bit more snow over 5400′ but not enough to cause any problems.
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A well established use trail led out to the viewpoint where we met another pair of hikers enjoying the view.
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IMG_3499The larger lake.

IMG_3504The smaller lake.

IMG_3506Illahee Rock from the viewpoint.

IMG_3509The lower flanks of Howlock Mountain, Mt. Thielsen (post), and Mt. Bailey (post).

We chatted with the other hikers long enough that we could almost see all of Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey by the time we were headed back.
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IMG_3516

20220614_143125Bee on an anemone.

20220614_143956Glacier lily

IMG_3529Moth and a violet.

When we passed by the lower viewpoint the views had improved even more.
IMG_3535

IMG_3536Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey

IMG_3540Black Rock on the right.

IMG_3534Highrock Mountain

IMG_3538Howlock Mountain

IMG_3539Cowhorn Mountain (post)

It truly had become sunny and was supposed to stay that way at least for the next couple of days. After driving back to Highway 138 we followed it east to Diamond Lake then took Highway 230 south to Highway 62 and followed it into Medford to I-5 and took the freeway south to Ashland where we would be staying for the next four nights. We’d hoped to stop by Becky’s Cafe in Union Creek but when we drove by it was closed so instead we wound up with Wendy’s after another long day (sigh) of driving.

The hikes were 5.2 miles and 6.2 miles with 650′ and 850′ of elevation gain respectively giving us an 11.4 mile 1500′ day.

Illahee Rock Track
Twin Lakes Track
Categories
Hiking Mt. Theilsen/Mt. Bailey Area Oregon Roseburg Area Trip report

Highway 138 Waterfalls – 06/13/2022

The last two years have created a bit of urgency to our goal of completing the 100 featured hikes in all five areas covered by William L. Sullivan in his 100 hikes guidebook series (post). Between the pandemic and 2020 wildfire season it became clear that taking our time could create issues down the road so starting last year we refocused our efforts on finishing the 500 hikes as soon possible. As we started 2022 we were down to just the Eastern and Southern Oregon (and Northern CA) areas to complete (post). The majority of the remaining hikes were from the southern book where a number of planned trips had been canceled in recent years due to weather and/or the effects of wildfires. We spent a week in Medford earlier in June checking off Roxy Ann Peak (post) and the Jack-Ash Trail (post) and we headed back south a couple of weeks later to hopefully check off more.

A cool and wet Spring has left parts of Oregon, in particular the northern and central Cascade Mountains with a lot of lingering snow. Many trails and trailheads in those areas that in recent years would be open are still snowed in but Southern Oregon had been dealing with an extreme drought, so the recent weather has not had as much of an impact leaving trails accessible. While accessibility wasn’t an issue the weather forecast was a bit of one. More wet weather was forecast for the start and end of our six-day trip with the possibility of snow at higher elevations. After some substituting and rearranging of hikes we settled on a tentative plan that gave us some flexibility in case the forecast tried to pull a fast one on us. Since Monday was supposed to be mostly cloudy with a chance of showers off and on all day we decided to combine a number of stops east of Roseburg along Highway 138 to check out seven different waterfalls.

We started our morning off at Susan Creek Falls. This waterfall is one of three stops listed in featured hike #2, Fall Creek Falls (4th edition). This area was burned in the 2020 Archie Creek Fire and to date the other two stops at Fall Creek Falls and the Tioga Segment of the North Umpqua Trail remain closed. The BLM has managed to get the 0.7 mile Susan Creek Trail open although the trailhead on the north side of the highway was full of logs forcing us to park across the street at the Susan Creek Picnic Area.
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After dashing across the highway we set off on the trail through the burned forest.
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IMG_2741Checkermallow

IMG_2743A slug and a bug on a flower.

IMG_2745Pea

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IMG_2753Approaching the falls.

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20220613_081135Columbine

20220613_080719_HDRSusan Creek Falls

This short trail only gained about 150′ and was a nice leg stretcher after the drive down from Salem. After admiring the falls we returned to the car and continued east on 138 to milepost 59 and turned left onto Forest Road 34 to the Toketee Falls Trailhead. One of two stops that make up featured hike #9 (edition 4.2) a 0.4 mile trail leads to a platform above the falls which spill out of gap in basalt cliffs.
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IMG_2800Evidence of overnight rains on the trail.

IMG_2806A very faint rainbow over the North Umpqua River.

IMG_2815Stairs down to the viewpoint platform.

IMG_2810Toketee Falls

We spent some time admiring this waterfall which is one of Oregon’s more recognizable falls before returning to the car and continuing on FR 34 to FR 3401 and following it to the Umpqua Hot Springs Trailhead.
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The hike starting here is not the second part of featured hike #9 but rather its own entry (featured hike #8, edition 4.2). Sullivan gives two 0.6 mile round trip options starting from this trailhead. The first is a 120′ climb to Umpqua Hot Springs overlooking the North Umpqua River. To reach the hot springs we crossed the river on a footbridge and turned right to make the climb up to the springs.
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IMG_2851Candy sticks along the trail.

Just before the hot springs I veered downhill on a side trail to visit the river.
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IMG_2857During lower flow there is another hot spring along the river bank in the area.

I climbed back up to find Heather sitting near the springs. There were a number of people enjoying a soak and with clothing being optional pictures were very limited.
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We climbed down from the hot springs and returned to the trailhead where we took a short trail up to FR 3401 and turned left following a short distance to the resumption of the North Umpqua Trail.
IMG_2867Heading up to the road.

IMG_2870The North Umpqua Trail on the left leaving the FR 3401.

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Approximately a quarter mile along this segment we arrived at Surprise Falls, a cascade created by cold springs bursting from the hillside below the trail.
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The mossy cascade was beautiful and we spent quite a while enjoying the lush green surroundings. A very short distance further we arrived at our turn around point at another spring fed waterfall, Columnar Falls.
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This fall gets its name due to the columnar basalt that the water both cascades down and spouts right out of.
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IMG_2907The hot springs across the river from Columnar Falls.

We returned the way we’d come and hoped back into our car and drove back to Highway 138 where we again turned east. Our next stop was the second waterfall in featured hike #9, Watson Falls. Another short (0.4 mile) trail leads from the Watson Falls Trailhead to Southern Oregon’s tallest waterfall.
IMG_2914The top of Watson Falls from the trailhead signboard.

This trail gains 300′ as it climbs to a viewpoint part way up the 272′ waterfall.
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20220613_113355Watson Falls from below.

IMG_2932Footbridge over Watson Creek.

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IMG_2953Heather at the viewpoint.

IMG_2946The splash pool.

On the way back down we took the loop back trail which splits off just before the creek crossing.
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This trail follows Watson Creek down to FR 37 where a right turn and short road walk completes the loop.
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IMG_2969Watson Creek at FR 37.

IMG_2971A little bit of blue sky and sunlight along FR 37.

Once again we returned to Highway 138 and continued east. Our next three stops were in the Lemolo Lake Recreation Area so we turned off of the Highway onto FR 2610 at a pointer for the Recreation Area. Our first stop was at the Warm Springs Trail.
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Yet another short trail (0.3 miles) that led to a scenic waterfall.
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IMG_2982Viewing platform above the falls.

IMG_2986We both really liked the angled basalt cliff on the far side of these falls.

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This waterfall surprised us a bit with how much we both liked it. We headed back to the car and drove back the way we’d come until reaching a canal bridge along FR 2610 where we turned across it to the North Umpqua Trail.
IMG_3069The canal bridge is 5.6 miles from Highway 138 on FR 2610.

IMG_2991Sign near the canal bridge.

IMG_2992The North Umpqua Trail.

IMG_2993The section between Lemolo Lake and the Umpqua Hot Springs Trailhead is called the “Dread and Terror Segment” but both sections we hiked were beautiful.

This would be our longest hike of the day at 3.5 miles round trip. The trail followed the North Umpqua River providing numerous views while losing 400′ to a viewpoint above Lemolo Falls.
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IMG_3006Numerous seasonal streams and seeps flowed across the trail.

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IMG_3017Unnamed fall along the river.

IMG_3031Trillium

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IMG_3037Ouzel

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IMG_3054Lemolo Falls

We took a short break at the viewpoint then headed back. We had one final stop to make on the other side of the river to visit a better viewpoint below Lemolo Falls.
IMG_3060Red flowering currant along the trail.

IMG_3063Bleeding heart.

From the canal bridge we drove back toward Lemolo Lake crossing the dam then in half a mile turned right on FR 3401 for another half mile to FR 800 where we again turned right. We followed FR 800 for 1.6 miles to a spur road (FR 3401-840). The trailhead is located approximately a quarter-mile down this road but we parked as soon as we had a chance due to this road being in the worst condition we’d experienced this day.
IMG_3070Approaching the trailhead.

This old trail/trailhead was recently reopened and aside from the poor access road the trail was in good shape. The first 0.6 miles follows an old roadbed to a former picnic area where the Lemolo Falls Trail used to begin. Three quarters of a mile later the trail arrives at the North Umpqua River below Lemolo Falls.
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IMG_3083The former picnic area (Note the picnic table in the trees to the right.)

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IMG_3098Valerian along the trail.

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IMG_3113One of many brief appearances of blue sky during the day.

This was by far the superior view and a great way to end the day. We climbed back up the 500′ that we’d descended to the falls and called it a day. Our seven stops was a new personal record (previously six on a trip down the Oregon Coast). With most of the hikes being rather short our mileage for the day was just a smidge over 11 miles with a little over 1800′ of cumulative elevation gain. It was a long day made longer by a couple of delays due to road construction so it was later than we’d planned when we pulled into our motel in Roseburg but we had managed to finish three more featured hikes (and one third of a fourth) and although it had sprinkled off and on all day we’d also had a few sun breaks which made it a perfect day for chasing waterfalls. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Highway 138 Waterfalls

Categories
SW Washington SW Washington Coast Trip report Washington

Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-Tailed Deer – 06/11/2022

Another rainy weekend was in the forecast which had us questioning whether or not it was worth heading out. Our original plan had involved a hike with mountain views so we wanted to save that for a day with a clearer forecast. This had us looking for something that wasn’t view dependent. The Julia Butler Hansen Refuge a.k.a the Columbian White-Tailed Deer Refuge fit that bill and was on our schedule during the month of June in 2025. I had it penciled in for June due to one of the trails in the refuge, the Center Road Trail, only being open to hiking from June through September. While a refuge hike is typically okay on a rainy overcast day it had poured Friday and we were expecting Saturday to be similar and weren’t keen on driving over two hours to be drenched for an entire 12 mile hike. Friday evening we had all but decided to take the weekend off but just to be sure I pulled up the NOAA forecast for the refuge. To our surprise there was just a 10% chance of showers in the morning followed by partly sunny skies and a high in the low 60s. That sold us and we got our packs ready for a 5am departure the next morning.

After a brief conversation with a very friendly Washington State Trooper (I completely missed a 45mph sign and was given a warning) we pulled into the refuge HQ (open Mon-Fri 7:30am – 4pm). We had gotten the hike for this idea from the “more hikes” section of Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range” guidebook as well as an entry in the Oregon Hikers Field Guide describes a 6.1 mile loop, which for reasons that will become evident later, is no longer possible. (I have contacted both with updated information.)
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IMG_2440A damp and cloudy morning.

IMG_2445Swallow

Our plan had been to to the described loop but after reaching the far end of the loop we were going to do an out-and-back along Steamboat and Brooks Slough Roads to add a little hiking time since a six mile loop would likely violate our rule of not having our driving time be greater than our hiking time on day trips. From the HQ we walked out of the parking lot onto Steamboat Slough Road and turned right crossing Indian Jack Slough. The loop description was to then turn right through a gate into the refuge shed/garage yard.
IMG_2441Indian Jack Slough and the garage from Refuge HQ.

The gate, including a secondary pedestrian gate were padlocked and there were “Area Closed” signs on the driveway gate. This was a bit unexpected, but shouldn’t have been if we’d have read the Refuge website more closely. What we discovered after our hike was that at some point a 0.3 section of Center Road, from Steamboat Slough Road west, had been closed to the public making the loop impossible and leaving the Center Road Trail as a 5 mile round trip out-and-back. At this point though we weren’t sure what was going on so we decided to simply head out Steamboat Slough Road and were prepared to skip Center Road and make the hike a simple out-and-back.
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Beyond the shed/garage there was a living quarters and just beyond that we spotted the first Columbian White-tailed deer of the day.
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We followed this road for 2.3 miles to the start of the White-tail Trail. It is possible to drive to this trail and park at the nearby dead end of Steamboat Slough Road.
IMG_2465Elochoman Slough

IMG_2473The first of many bald eagles we spotted (atop the dead tree across the slough).

IMG_2489Working on drying out.

IMG_2475Lots of non-native yellow flag iris in the area.

IMG_2494Little birds such as this sparrow were everywhere but rarely sat still.

IMG_2501A different eagle waiting to dry.

IMG_2503There are at least 5 birds in the tree including four goldfinches.

IMG_2507A male goldfinch takes off.

IMG_2513The morning clouds were starting to break up as forecasted.

IMG_2516One of many great blue herons.

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IMG_2539A male wood duck.

IMG_2545Another great blue heron with the female wood duck on the log below.

IMG_2548The first of several osprey.

IMG_2552Cattle in a field along the road.

IMG_2557Geese

IMG_2565Snail crossing the road.

IMG_2572Maybe a yellow warbler. I had to use the digital zoom to get between the branches so it’s not the clearest photo.

The start of the mile long White-tail trail which travels along a setback levee.
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IMG_2586There was a pole with a bunch of bird nests hung from it near the start of the trail. We’d never seen one like it before.

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It turned out to be nests for purple martins, a bird that as far as we know we hadn’t seen before.
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DSCN1586Bald eagle in the same area.

IMG_2597Slug on lupine

IMG_2600A different type of lupine.

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IMG_2605Lupine, daisies and yellow gland-weed.

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20220611_090020Bumble bee needing to dry out.

We spotted more white-tailed deer along the levee, a pair of young bucks.
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DSCN1653A look at the white tail. He gave us a better look but in that one he was also doing his business so we stuck with this uncentered, slightly blurry version.

There was also a great blue heron sitting in a nearby snag.
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While we were keeping an eye on the bucks and the heron to the inland side of the levee there were geese, ducks, and various small birds all around us.
DSCN1612Guessing marsh wren.

DSCN1637Ducks

DSCN1644Goose with goslings.

DSCN1651Common yellow throat.

DSCN1660Male gadwall?

We eventually tore ourselves away from the wildlife bonanza and continued on.
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DSCN1666There was pretty much non-stop bird song throughout the day.

IMG_2616Traffic on the Columbia River.

DSCN1668The Santa Maria on the Columbia.

DSCN1671Female brown-headed cowbird?

IMG_2619Flowers along the levee.

DSCN1676American robin

DSCN1677Red-winged blackbird chasing a heron.

When we reached the end of the White-tail Trail we turned right onto Steamboat Slough Road. You can also park near this end of the trail but you must come from the west as Steamboat Slough Road is missing a section (which is why you hike on the levee).
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We followed this two-lane version of the road for approximately 1.25 miles to a fork and turned right on Brooks Slough Road. After just 0.2 miles we passed the western end of the Center Road Trail. This end was clearly open. We talked ourselves into believing that either we missed where we were actually supposed to go or that they just hadn’t unlocked the gate yet since we were still unaware of the updated rules for the trail and decided that we would take this trail on our way back and we could do the loop after all.
IMG_2625 Note the sign does not indicate that you cannot reach the HQ from the road, it simply says it is 5 miles round trip. Online it adds that hikers must exit the trail the way they entered.

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IMG_2630Roses along the road.

DSCN1699Muskrat

DSCN1694Warbler

DSCN1716Osprey

IMG_2634Brooks Slough Road junction.

We turned right and followed this narrow one-lane road along Brooks Slough. For the first mile it ran parallel to Highway 4 then it veered away becoming a quieter walk.
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IMG_2645Another eagle sitting near the top of the first tall tree on the far side of the slough.

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IMG_2647Interesting shrub along the road.

IMG_2649The partly sunny skies had indeed materialized.

DSCN1748Kingfisher

DSCN1751California scrub jay

DSCN1755White pelicans

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IMG_2654Some sort of ornamental shrub/tree but it had cool flowers.

DSCN1771Turkey vulture

DSCN1786Couldn’t tell what type of ducks they were.

We followed the road for approximately 2 miles to what was shown on the GPS as Alger Creek.
IMG_2660Alger Creek somewhere in the grass flowing into Brooks Slough.

IMG_2661Pond on the other side of the road.

DSCN1788Black pheobe?

After a short break we headed back. It was actually starting to feel warm now but we distracted ourselves with even more wildlife.
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DSCN1798Red-tailed hawk

DSCN1803American goldfinch

DSCN1815Swallowtail

DSCN1825Cedar waxwing with a salmonberry.

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DSCN1850Goat lounging in a driveway across the highway. There had actually been a black goat in nearly the same spot on our first pass.

IMG_2669Caterpillar

When we got back to Center Road we reread the signage and stuck to our plan to try and complete the loop.
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We had been discussing all the different wildlife that we’d seen already and I mentioned that the only thing missing was a turtle. Not long after starting down Center Road I noticed something brown (that didn’t look like a cow) in the distance near the tree line. As I was staring at it a large set of antlers raised from the grass and I realized it was a bull elk.
DSCN1886The elk is in the center of the photo near the tree line.

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We watched him as he munched on grass for quite a while before moving on. At that point I said something to the effect of forgetting about the turtle because that was better. It wasn’t too much longer before we came to some more wetlands. Lo and behold there was a turtle.
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Many pictures followed before resuming our hike.
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Heather spotted a pair of egrets in a distant tree which proved impossible to get a decent picture of.
DSCN1910Here is a not so decent picture of the egrets.

We also startled up a pair of American bitterns.
DSCN1912One of the bitterns in flight.

After 2 miles we spotted a set of posts with signs where we finally understood that the Center Road Trail no longer runs the entire length of the roadbed now.
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We were less than half a mile from the HQ which was visible from where we were but we obeyed the signs and turned around. It would have been about a perfect distance for us as we were at the 12.1 mile mark when we had gotten to the closed area. Now we had to backtrack two miles on Center Road before the mile long White-tail Trail and the 2.3 mile road walk back to the HQ parking lot. Not only was this a lot longer than we’d planned but the surface had been mostly paved and what wasn’t paved was packed gravel road beds so our feet were really protesting as we retraced our steps.
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DSCN1924Heather spotted this garter snake along Center Road. Another animal to add to the days list.

IMG_2708Back at the White-tail Trail.

IMG_2711It had cooled down again which provided some relief as we trudged back.

DSCN1929A second turtle

DSCN1931Mallards

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IMG_2714Way more water in the afternoon.

DSCN1940Another kingfisher. It was in the same tree as the heron had been earlier that morning when we were watching the bucks.

DSCN1941Family swim

IMG_2719By Steamboat Slough Road we had all kinds of blisters/hotspots on our feet.

IMG_2725Arriving back at the refuge HQ.

I got to the car first, changed shoes and drove back to pick up Heather who was only about a quarter mile behind me. My GPS read 17.5 miles of almost entirely flat hiking.

Fortunately I had thought to bring my parents camera which has more powerful zoom than my point and shoot and also our binoculars which Heather had been using since there was so much wildlife to be seen. We encountered a couple of other hikers on the White-tail Trail as well as a pair of cyclists and several cars along the various roads but for the most part it was a fairly peaceful (long) hike. The one thing we kept coming back to was that if we hadn’t done the hike the we did we wouldn’t have seen some of the wildlife that we encountered. Was it worth the blisters though? You betcha – Happy Trails!

Flickr: Columbia White-tailed Deer Refuge

Categories
Hiking SW Washington Trip report Washington

Black Hole Falls – 06/04/2022

After our extended Memorial Day weekend of hiking in the Medford area we were looking forward to a poison oak free outing. While we didn’t come away from that trip with any physical repercussions from the plant it had gotten into our heads to the point where we were seeing it when we closed our eyes. As I said before I’m sure after a while people just get used to it but we weren’t anywhere near that point yet and while it is present in the Willamette Valley and parts of the Columbia Gorge it isn’t as abundant. On our schedule for this hike was a visit to Black Hole Falls along North Siouxon Creek. This was good timing as the forecast for the weekend was for rain showers which, barring heavy fog, wouldn’t negatively affect our experience here. Black Hole Falls is a hike featured in Matt Reeder’s “Off the Beaten Trail” 2nd edition guidebook which as the title suggests contains 55 (50 featured and 5 bonus) hikes that don’t usually see a lot of visitors. In most cases it isn’t because of poor road or trail conditions but there are more popular destinations nearby causing these hikes to be overlooked. In the case of Black Hole Falls the drive wasn’t the greatest but it also was nowhere near the worst we’d been on but it is also near the much more popular hike at Siouxon Creek (post). Note that the 2020 Big Hollow Fire affected the Siouxon Creek area (it didn’t reach North Siouxon Creek) which was reopened in August 2021.

We followed the Oregon Hikers Field Guide directions to the North Siouxon Trailhead which were also the direction provided by Google Maps as Reeder’s directions were no longer appeared accurate. (We don’t independently trust Google Maps as it sometimes tries to send you on roads that in no way shape or form appear passable.)
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The trail departing from this trailhead is actually the Mitchell Peak Trail which leads to the summit of Mount Mitchell (post) but that destination is over 9 miles away with the upper portion of the trail being unmaintained. The trail drops steeply for approximately 200′ from the trailhead before leveling out. The remainder of the hike was a series of ups and downs, none of which were too long nor too steep. There were a number of creek crossings some of which had footbridges (sometimes makeshift) or logs to cross on. Given the wet conditions we chose to ford a couple of the creeks instead of risking slipping off of a slick log. A reroute of the trail at mile 3.5 dropped below a pair of cascades where the previous tread had been washed out. At the 4.5 mile mark the trail forks with the right hand fork leading a quarter mile downhill to Black Hole Falls.
IMG_2186Dropping into the forest.

The forest along the trail was just what we’d needed with a lush green (poison oak free) under story where woodland wildflowers and mushrooms thrived. With no confusing junctions and very little blowdown along the trail we were able to fully relax and take in the surroundings.
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IMG_2194Anemone

IMG_2190Vanilla leaf

IMG_2197Baneberry

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IMG_2206Quite a few snails and slugs along the trail.

IMG_2211Starflower

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IMG_2230Some of the logs had had tiles and ropes placed on them to help avoid slipping.

IMG_2233Surprisingly this was the only rough-skinned newt we spotted all day.

IMG_2234Foam flower

IMG_2237Inside-out flower

IMG_2241There were some huge nursery logs in the forest here.

IMG_2243A good example of a makeshift crossing.

IMG_2244Most of the flowers were white or pale pink but this salmonberry blossom added a splash of bright color.

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A side trail near the 1.75 mile mark led down to a campsite near North Siouxon Creek.
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IMG_2265Violets

IMG_2268This was an interesting log/bridge.

IMG_2270Millipedes were everywhere but this one was a color we hadn’t seen before.

IMG_2275These were the ones we were seeing all over.

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IMG_2276The dismount was a little awkward but doable.

IMG_2281Star-flowered solmonseal catching a moment of sunlight.

IMG_2283Fairybells

IMG_2285Solomonseal

IMG_2286False lily of the valley

IMG_2288Moss and lichens

IMG_2289Spotted coralroot

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IMG_2298Bunchberry

IMG_2309Small fall along the trail.

IMG_2312Did I mention millipedes were everywhere?

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IMG_2325Another creek crossing.

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The trail reroute at the 3.5 mile mark.
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IMG_2331The reroute

IMG_2334This was one of the log crossings that looked too slick and high to warrant an attempt so we forded here. The water was ankle deep and we crossed easily.

IMG_2335We forded just above the larger rocks in the middle of the creek.

IMG_2337The lower of the two cascades.

After fording the trail climbed up hill alongside a large tree that had fallen directly in the middle of the reroute. The presence of this tree didn’t cause too much trouble although it was wide enough that you could clamber over it except for near it’s top. I had wound up on the wrong side so I took the opportunity to follow the original trail to the old crossing before climbing up and around the root ball of the tree to rejoin Heather on the trail.
IMG_2343The upper cascade.

IMG_2344Looking across the old crossing you can see where some of the hillside was washed out.

IMG_2346Looking back at the trail from the creek. The large downed tree was the one that was too wide to climb over.

IMG_2347Most of the downed trees were like this although there was one that required ducking pretty low.

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IMG_2350We could hear the songs of wrens throughout the hike but only caught flitting glimpses of the little singers.

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IMG_2356Two of the footbridges were in a state like this. It held but we had to watch our step to not only avoid the holes but also the millipedes.

IMG_2360This was another ford/rock hop. There was a log serving as the bridge but it also looked slick. The rope in the picture was connected to the log and I almost didn’t see it (both times by).

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IMG_2362Deep pool near the crossing.

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A post marked the side trail down to Black Hole Falls.
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We turned right and descended to Black Hole Falls which did not disappoint.
IMG_2375First view through the trees.

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IMG_2382The pool was a beautiful green.

IMG_2390More cascades and clear pools were located downstream.

IMG_2388Heather taking in the view.

IMG_2394Since I was already wet from the fords I waded out in the calf deep creek to get a different angle.

In addition to the beautiful waterfall and creek there was a unique feature in the basalt to the left of the falls that looked to us like a head with a wide open mouth.
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We stayed at the falls for a while before heading back. The forest was just as pretty on the return trip as it was on the way to falls. A light rain finally began to fall in the final mile or two of the hike which felt nice by then.
IMG_2406The right fork heading on toward Mount Mitchell.

20220604_104816A really long nursery log spanning across this whole depression.

IMG_2408Camouflaged mushrooms.

IMG_2409The only trillium that still had its petals.

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IMG_2412It looked like someone took a slice of this mushroom.

IMG_2416There weren’t too many views of North Siouxon Creek from the trail but this was a nice one.

IMG_2420Sour grass

IMG_2423Youth-on-age

IMG_2428Scouler’s corydalis

20220604_130059Candy flower

With some wandering down and along the creek and at the falls our day came in at 10.6 miles and approximately 2400′ of cumulative elevation gain.

The hike had lived up to being referred to as off the beaten trail as we didn’t encounter another hiker all day. We did have a pickup drive by while we were changing back at the car after our hike but it appeared to be someone from one of the logging companies checking the area. We had passed signs for active logging operations and saw equipment on the drive in. This turned out to be an excellent hike from start to finish and one that we will be keeping in mind to revisit in the future. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Black Hole Falls

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Hiking Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Roxy Ann Peak – 05/30/2022

Memorial Day marked the end of our trip to the Medford area but before we headed home we had one final hike planned at Roxy Ann Peak. Located within Prescott Park the 3670′ Roxy Ann Peak offers multiple trails and great views (on clear days) of the surrounding area. The park has two gates that according to the park brochure are “typically” open from 8 to 8 in Spring and Summer (closed at 5pm in Fall/Winter). We wanted to get an early start to our drive back to Salem so we opted to park at the 1st gate and road walk to the start of the trail that Sullivan features in his guidebook.
IMG_1947Setting off at 5:20am from the 1st gate.

This was another hike that became a featured hike in his 4.2 edition “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California” due to fire damage to several of the previously featured hikes. He suggests a 3.4 mile loop started by parking at the second gate. Like most of our other hikes this trip we’d originally planned on a longer hike utilizing more of the Park’s trails but had pulled back after the first day of our trip (post) but parking at the first, lower trailhead did add a little over 2 miles round trip. While the forecast was for a mostly sunny day the clouds from the weekend hadn’t moved on as we hiked up the road.
IMG_1959Roxy Ann Peak from the road.

We spotted three deer and a jack rabbit during the road walk but the low light conditions made for poor picture taking opportunities. Fortunately deer were the theme for the first half of the hike and we had several more photo ops with them.
IMG_1960Jack rabbit

IMG_1963Coming up on the 2nd gate.

IMG_1964Sunlight hitting the hillsides on the far side of Medford.

Our planned lollipop loop was to take the Madrone Trail to the Oak Trail then onto the Ponderosa Trail which would take us up to the Park Tower Road where we could visit the summit. Then we would descend via the Manzanita Trail back to the Madrone Trail to return to Roxy Ann Road and eventually our car.
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It was 0.2 miles along the road from the 2nd gate to the start of the Madrone Trail where we turned right and began climbing in earnest.
IMG_1969Roxy Ann’s shadow being cast over Medford.

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For the most part the trails in the park were nice and wide giving us the feeling of plenty of space from the abundant poison oak in the area. (We’re not sure how long it takes to get used to hiking in its presence but we haven’t gotten there yet.) There was a nice variety of wildflowers along the way and, as I already mentioned, a good deal of wildlife. We also appreciated the fact that most junctions were well marked with posts identifying the various trails.
IMG_1976Lots of purple vetch along the trails.

IMG_1977One of the posts used to identify trails.

IMG_1980Madrones along the Madrone Trail.

IMG_1982We turned left following the pointer for the Oak Trail.

IMG_1993Juvenile great horned owl along the Oak Trail. We didn’t get a good look at the second owl to the left but it looked to be an adult.

IMG_1995This segment of the Madrone Trail (MD3) ended at Roxy Ann Road with the Oak Trail picking up on the far side.

IMG_1996The Oak Trail

IMG_1997Lupine amid the vetch

IMG_1999Camas in front of poison oak.

20220530_060450Carrotleaf horkelia

IMG_2004ookow

IMG_2005Death camas

IMG_2010Blue-eyed grass

IMG_2012Oak along the Oak Trail.

IMG_2015Roxy Ann Peak

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IMG_2023Blow wives

IMG_2025The Oak Trail appeared to be the least used of all the trails we would hike on this day.

IMG_2028Lower Table Rock (post)

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IMG_2044The only post we saw that wasn’t helpful.

IMG_2045Challenge Course just off the Oak Trail.

IMG_2048Parts of the Challenge Course

IMG_2049Trail junction near the Challenge Course with the Oak and Ponderosa Trails.

IMG_2052Dove

IMG_2053Hopping onto the Ponderosa Trail.

IMG_2054Mariposa lily

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IMG_2061Lazuli bunting. We saw quite a few of these during our trip but they proved to be very difficult to photograph.

IMG_2063Medford from the Ponderosa Trail.

IMG_2068Paintbrush

20220530_063124Madia

IMG_2076Lower Table Rock again.

IMG_2083A bench and Ponderosa pines along the Ponderosa Trail.

IMG_2091Plectritis

IMG_2092Two more deer above the trail.

IMG_2108Deer and balsamroot.

IMG_2093Young deer

IMG_2095Momma deer

IMG_2114Larkspur

IMG_2120Nearing Park Tower Road.

When we hit the road we headed uphill then took a short rocky trail to a picnic table on the summit. Unfortunately the low clouds hadn’t burned off nearly enough yet for us to get the big views of either the Cascade Mountains or the Sisikyous but it was a nice view none the less.
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IMG_2130Serenading lazuli bunting.

IMG_2131A lot darker clouds toward the Cascades.

With no real views today we took a brief break then headed over to the tower on the other side of the peak just for the heck of it before heading down the road to pick up the Manzanita Trail.
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IMG_2136Sign for the Manzanita Trail

We followed this trail back down to Roxy Ann Road and the Madrone Trail.
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IMG_2140The lower flank of Grizzly Peak (post) to the left. Mt. Ashland (post) is hiding behind the clouds almost straight ahead.

IMG_2143Looking NE from the trail, still a lot of clouds.

IMG_2156Another bunting, we were on a roll.

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IMG_2163The clouds were really starting to break up as we descended.

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IMG_2168Arrow-leaf buckwheat on the hillside.

IMG_2170Roxy Ann Road

IMG_2172Back on the Madrone Trail.

IMG_2175Back on the road walk. The trail post here is for the Greenhorn Trail.

IMG_2181Spotted towhee.

The lower gate was still closed when we got back to our car around 8:20am but we’d passed a steady stream of hikers and trail runners heading up the road regardless. In the end our hike came to 5.4 miles with approximately 1475′ of elevation gain.

It had been a nice short hike to end the trip on. It was only about 15 minutes from our room so we had left our things there instead of having to leave it in the car and now had time to go back to the room, shower and then drive home. We stopped in Eugene to have lunch with our son Dominique and his friend Russell and then continued home to unpack and start getting ready for our next adventure. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Roxy Ann Peak