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California Hiking Mt. Shasta Area Trip report

Mount Shasta Meadows – 08/22/2022

We had planned a five day backpacking trip in the Wallowas but then a red flag warning for the possibility of abundant lightning the first day followed by more chances of thunderstorms over then next two derailed those plans. That trip would have checked three more featured hikes from the remaining twenty one hikes on our to-do list from the Eastern Oregon area. With all twenty one of the those hikes being located in the NE corner of Oregon (15 in the Wallowas and 6 along Hells Canyon) there were no alternate plans we could look to in that area to continue making progress toward or 500 featured hikes goal (post) so we turned to the Southern Oregon & Northern California book instead. For that area we still had thirty one featured hikes left including five hikes in Northern California, one at Mt. Shasta and four near Carter Meadows Summit west of Callahan, CA. A clear forecast and no wildfire closures provided a green light so we booked a last minute room at the Etna Motel in Etna, CA and once again headed south this year.

When we reached Yreka, CA instead of taking Highway 3 to Etna we stayed on Interstate 5 and continued south to Mt. Shasta and made our way to the Upper Panther Meadows Trailhead. We had tried to do the hike here in late July 2017 but a late snow melt that year had kept the gate to this trailhead closed so we had hiked from Bunny Flat instead (post).
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IMG_9690Lupine at the trailhead.

IMG_9687A line of smoke over the Castle Crags (post) and Mt. Eddy (post).

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From this trailhead we followed the Everitt Memorial Highway uphill a quarter mile to the South Gate Meadows Trailhead.
IMG_9698Green Butte and Mt. Shasta

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Here we hopped onto a rock lined trail and climbed a half mile to a pass where we entered the Mt. Shasta Wilderness.
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IMG_9704Common buckeye

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IMG_9721Red Butte from the pass.

IMG_9722Mount Eddy from the pass.

IMG_9724Heather standing at the wilderness boundary.

From the pass the trail descended 0.6 miles to a signed trail junction at The Gate below Red Butte.
IMG_9733A dry spring along the trail. Ideally we would have been doing this hike (and trip) in late July for more wildflowers but sometimes the circumstances dictate when and where we wind up.

IMG_9740Approaching The Gate.

IMG_9742Shastarama Point and Thumb Rock

IMG_9745Gray Butte

IMG_9747The trail junction near The Gate. The trail to the right would be our return route to make a loop through Panther Meadows, but for now we went left following the pointer for South Gate Meadows.

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We followed the trail downhill through boulders from Red Butte then into a forest that provided the first real shade of the hike.
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IMG_9759A paintbrush and aster.

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IMG_9763Some haze to the south but we could make out Lassen Peak which is one we rarely ever get to see.

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Just under three quarters of a mile from The Gate we arrived at South Gate Meadows.
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IMG_9776Primrose monkeyflower

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From the meadows use trails head both up and downhill along South Gate Creek (aka Squaw Valley Creek). Sullivan showed a “monkeyflower spring” a half mile uphill and a “circular meadow” four tenths of a mile downhill. Not knowing when we might be back we decided to do both starting with the downhill first.
IMG_9787The use trail crossing the creek.

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IMG_9792In sight of the circular meadow.

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IMG_9798Marsh grass-of-Parnassus

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After a quick visit we headed back up to South Gate Meadows.
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IMG_9807Back at the meadows.

We then took a use trail up along the eastern side of the creek which brought us to the spring.
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IMG_9816A pair of common buckeyes.

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IMG_9827Primrose monkeyflowers and paintbrush

20220822_125455_HDRNot the “monkeyflower” spring but a smaller one along the way up.

IMG_9834The “monkeyflower” spring.

IMG_9835A couple of monkeyflowers and a buckeye.

IMG_9837I climbed a bit above the spring to check out the view.

IMG_9839Heather arriving at the spring.

We took a break here and one at the little spring we’d passed on the way up and then headed back toward The Gate.
IMG_9852A Clark’s nutcracker also taking a break.

Two types of monkeyflower and bog St. John's wortTwo types of monkeyflower and bog St. John’s wort,

IMG_9860One last pass through South Gate Meadows.

IMG_9861Red Butte

Shasta knotweedShasta knotweed

IMG_9868Back at The Gate.

From The Gate we followed the pointer for Panther Meadows. This trail brought us through a barren landscape before climbing over some glaciated rock and entering a forest.
IMG_9874_stitchMt. Shasta from the trail.

IMG_9876Red Butte

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IMG_9880Glaciated rock.

IMG_9881Mt. Shasta and Sargents Ridge.

IMG_9883Into the forest.

IMG_9885The trail left the wilderness along the way.

Just over three quarters of a mile from The Gate we arrived at a junction with the Gray Butte Trail. We had considered taking this 0.9 mile detour but it was already 2:20pm and it was also fairly warm so we decided to skip it this time around.
IMG_9887The junction with Gray Butte behind the trees.

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From the junction the trail gradually descended a half mile to Panther Meadows.
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IMG_9894Another Clark’s nutcracker. They are boisterous birds and other than first thing in the morning we get a kick out of listening to them.

IMG_9895Stream flowing through the meadows.

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IMG_9899Gray Butte from Panther Meadows.

At a junction on the west side of the meadow near Panther Meadows Campground we followed a pointer for Upper Panther Meadow.
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We followed this trail just over a third of a mile uphill to another junction where we turned right and followed a path across the creek.
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We kept right for 0.2 miles to reach Panther Spring.
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After visiting the spring we backtracked a tenth of a mile and turned right for a third of a mile back to the Panther Meadows Trailhead to complete the loop.
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IMG_9928Picnic tables at the trailhead.

With the two side trips at South Gate Meadows and some other wandering the hike came to 7.4 miles with approximately 1900′ of elevation gain.

From the trailhead we drove to Etna and checked into our motel then made a quick run to Ray’s Food Place for some food for the week. It was a nice start to the vacation made even better when we saw that the Callahan Fire which had started on 20th just 6 miles east of Callahan had been fully contained at less than 10 acres. That one had the potential to do a lot of damage (and put a nix on the rest of our hikes). Our plan for the next day was to hike to East Boulder Lake as that was the closest to where the Callahan Fire was and therefore most likely to be closed if that fire were to spread but thankfully it sounded like that wasn’t going to happen. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mount Shasta Meadows

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Bend/Redmond Central Oregon Hiking Oregon Trip report

Flatiron Rock – Oregon Badlands Wilderness

We thought our hikes were done for the year after visiting Chip Ross Park and Dimple Hill earlier this month, but a rare opportunity to hike with our Son on Christmas Eve couldn’t be passed up.¬† We were heading to Bend to celebrate Christmas with our families and after driving over Santiam Pass¬† we met up with Dominique and drove to the Flatiron Rock Trailhead on Highway 20 east of town.

Flatiron Rock Trailhead

Our plan was to repeat part of a 22.6 mile hike we had done this past May. This time around we were shooting for a 7 mile hike out to Flatiron Rock and back.

We followed the same course as on our previous visit starting out on the 1.9 mile Ancient Juniper Trail. Unlike last time there was a few inches of snow on the trail and more along side it.
Trail sign in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness

Ancient Juniper Trail - Oregon Badlands Wilderness

It was a beautiful day with temperatures just below freezing. The sagebrush and junipers were covered in snow and robins sang as they gobbled up juniper berries.
Ancient Juniper Trail - Oregon Badlands Wilderness

Snow covered sagebrush

Robin catching snow?

When we arrived at the Ancient Juniper Trail junction with the Flatiron Rock Trail things were a litter whiter than last time.
Trail junction in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness

Trail junction in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness

At the junction we turned left onto the Flatiron Rock Trail and followed it 1.6 more miles to Flatiron Rock at a junction with the Castle Trail.
Flatiron Rock from the Flatiron Rock Trail

Flatiron Rock from the Flatiron Rock Trail

Flatiron Rock Trail junction with the Castle Trail

The number of hikers who had been through the snow before us had been dwindling and at Flatiron Rock it appeared that no one had ventured up into the rock itself since the last snow.
Flatiron Rock

I reached the rock first and headed inside its passageways to get a birds eye view of Heather and Dominique coming up the trail.
View from Flatiron Rock

View from Flatiron Rock

Flatiron Rock Trail

Although a few clouds limited the views from Flatiron Rock they were better than they had been on the cloudy day in May as both the Middle and North Sister appeared on the horizon.
Middle and North Sister from Flatiron Rock

Middle and North Sister from Flatiron Rock

In addition to those 10,000′ peaks Black Butte, Gray Butte, and Powell Butte rose above the high desert.
Black Butte

Gray Butte

Powell Butte

Several passages on Flatiron Rock allow for a nearly half mile loop past colorful lichen and interesting rock formations including a couple of arches.
Inside Flatiron Rock

Lichen on the rocks

Rock arch in Flatiron Rock

Rock arch in Flatiron Rock

Various animal tracks could be seen in the snow but the only ones we saw were the robins which seemed to particularly like the rock.
Robins (at least 14) at Flatiron Rock

After completing the loop we retraced our steps to the junction with the Ancient Juniper Trail where we remained on the Flatiron Trail for 1.2 miles to the trailhead. Between the passing clouds and the lowering of the Sun the light began to soften along this final stretch sometimes leaving the snow with a beautiful blueish color.
Flatiron Rock Trail

Flatiron Rock Trail

Flatiron Rock Trail

After finishing the hike we drove to my parents house and relaxed waiting for them to return with my brother and his family. It was the perfect way to kick of Christmas weekend and to cap off our 2016 hiking year all in one. Happy Trails (and Holidays)!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157674546328223

Categories
Bend/Redmond Central Oregon Hiking Oregon Trip report

Gray Butte Trail to Smith Rock State Park

We were in Central Oregon to pick Dominique up from college and took the opportunity to hike in the Smith Rock area. We had hiked in the state park twice before, both times taking the Misery Ridge Trail up and over the summit and completing a loop via the River Trail. For this visit we decided to access the park via the Gray Butte Trail which passed through the Forest Service administered Crooked River Grassland and BLM managed lands before reaching the park trails. We parked at a trail junction along Gray Butte Saddle where the Cole Loop Trail (854) meets the Gray Butte Trail (852).
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The trail was marked by a lone unsigned post.
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The trail traversed a hillside amid scattered juniper trees and sagebrush. Despite being a little late in the year for the best flower displays there were still clumps of color scattered along the trail.
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We also spotted a couple of deer above us on the hill.
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One of the nice things about the trail was, as it passed through the sagebrush filled grassland, the snowy peaks of the Cascades lined up on the horizon.
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The views were spectacular and as we continued around the trail more of the mountains came into view as well as many nearby rock formations.
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At the 1.4 mile mark we arrived at Bitterroot Pass where the trail crossed a dirt road.
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Shortly after crossing the road the trail and road intersected again. This second junction proved confusing and after several minutes reviewing our maps we decided to head up a hillside along another old road.
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This wound up being incorrect. At the second junction we should have taken a clear trail that veered down and slightly to the right along the side of the ridge. There was also a trail further to the right that just ended atop a little crest. The route we took led almost 400′ up to the summit of an unnamed butte. We climbed steeply for over half a mile before arriving at the rocky summit. It was only after reaching the top that we knew we had taken a wrong turn. Actually Dominique had been fairly certain we should have taken the right hand fork but that didn’t seem to jive with the map we were looking at. In any event the views from the top were amazing including a good look at Mt. Hood far to the NW.
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We could see Smith Rock below us as well as the trail we were trying to get too at a junction with Burma Road.
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On the way back down we passed a western fence lizard sunning on the rocks and a hummingbird busy collecting nectar from paintbrush.
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We got back on the correct trail and continued to head toward Smith Rock.
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We passed along the side of the butte we had detoured up before arriving at the trail junction we had seen from above.
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Even though the grassland doesn’t put on the kind of flower show that alpine meadows or the Columbia Gorge can we continued to see various flowers all throughout the hike.
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We were now on the Summit Trail in Smith Rock State Park and heading for the Mesa Verde Trail. At a viewpoint along the way we could see the Crooked River as it was winding through the park as well as a section of the Misery Ridge Trail that we would be descending later on.
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We could also see Gray Butte and the hillsides we had traversed earlier.
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We had already passed through Forest Service, BLM, and Oregon State Park lands when the Summit Trail entered a short section of privately owned lands.
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The Crooked River and Smith Rock’s most famous feature, Monkey Face, came into view as we reentered the park.
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We were greeted by number of locals.
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As we passed by a rockfield we noticed a group of rather large very interesting flowers. They turned out to be smoothstem blazing-star.
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smoothstem blazing-star Mentzelia laevicaulis

The colors and textures of the rocks in the park never ceases to impress.
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We turned up the Mesa Verde Trail and climbed to a junction with the Misery Ridge Trail below Monkey Face.
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As mentioned before this was our third time on the Misery Ridge Trail but the first time we had gone up from this side. We all agreed it was actually easier to go up this side than down it due to the loose dirt and rocks that make the trail slick. We followed the switchbacks up along Monkey Face to the busy summit where the view is worthy of a long look.
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We could once again see Mt. Hood and Gray Butte.
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Climbers were busy making their way up Monkey Face.
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We could also see our return route along Burma Road which ran along the hillside below our earlier unscheduled summit.
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We crossed the summit and got ready for our descent down Misery Ridge to the Crooked River below.
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Unlike the other end of the trail we had many steps to use.
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We passed under a number of rock climbers before reaching another trail junction near the only footbridge over the river in the park.
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We turned left along the Wolf Tree Trail which traveled along the Crooked River.
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Butterflies were flitting along the banks while geese enjoyed the water.
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After almost a mile we reached a sign for Burma Road.
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We had a .9 mile climb up Burma Road to get back to the Gray Butte Trail junction. The road passed by a canal and reentered BLM lands. It was another fairly steep climb with the sun beating down on us, but we managed to make it up to the junction.
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Our backs were to the park and mountains for most of the return trip on the Gray Butte Trail, so we focused on spotting additional wildflowers as we went.
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What should have been a 10.5 mile hike had turned into 12.1 miles thanks to our little detour but it had been well worth it. This was a tough hike and probably best during the month of May, but it was packed with big views, plenty of wildlife, various wildflowers, and lots interesting scenery. Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157652211766433