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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_4488

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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.
IMG_4513

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.
IMG_4541

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.
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IMG_3967Jessica sticktight?

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

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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.
IMG_4060

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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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_4121A trickle of water flowing down over the rocks along the trail.

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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_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_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_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.

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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_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.

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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.

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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 Klamath/Siskiyou Mountains Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Jack-Ash Trail: Griffin Gap to Anderson Ridge – 05/27/2022

With the snow level forecast to drop as low as 4500′ over the weekend we shifted the order of our planned Memorial Day weekend hikes so that we could do the highest elevation hike on Friday before the big snow level drop. It was already going to be a much cooler day than the previous two had been and there was a slight chance of showers which didn’t sound all that bad at this point. Sullivan added the Jack-Ash Trail as a featured hike in his 4.2 edition of “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Norther California” guidebook after the 2020 wildfire season wreaked havoc on some of the previous featured hikes. We have switched our goal to completing the 100 featured hikes in this most recent version for the same reason and this would be the first hike on this trip that would check another of the 100 off. (While our hike at Upper Table Rock (post) the day before had been one of Sullivan’s featured hikes we had previously done Lower Table Rock which is the other option Sullivan gives for the featured hike and so we had been counting it as done.) Sullivan’s described hike is a short 3 mile loop visiting the site of a former lookout tower on Anderson Butte. We had originally planned on hiking a longer portion of the trail which the BLM is in the process of developing. When completed the trail will connect the cities of Jacksonville and Ashland, OR thus the name. There are several different trailheads that can be used for access and we chose to start at the Griffin Gap Trailhead and planned on hiking to the Anderson Ridge Trailhead which is where Sullivan’s described loop begins. (Directions to the trailheads can be found on the BLM page for the trail here.)

We’ve seen all kinds of trailheads over the last dozen years and this one was up there on the list of odd ones. Located on a saddle where pavement ends on Anderson Butte Road there was no visible signage at first glance and the area was clearly popular with the target shooting crowd (a subset of which tends to leave quite a mess). An ATV/Motorcycle trail was visible diving steeply down a ridge to the north and then up the ridge on the other side of the saddle where the now gravel Anderson Butte Road forked to the left of the ridge and BLM Road 39-2-8 forked to the right side. The Jack-Ash Trail follows this road 0.9 miles to the Greenstone Trailhead. We didn’t attempt driving to that trailhead because why drive a potholed gravel road if you don’t have to. After deciding on a parking spot that we felt would be the most out of the line of fire we got out of the car and spotted the trailhead sign several feet downhill where the Jack-Ash Trail came up to the saddle from the Grub Gulch Trailhead.
IMG_1027The target shooting area and the OHV track coming down the ridge.

IMG_1029The track going up the ridge between the two roads. We briefly wondered if this had been the BLM’s work to bypass the road walk in between this trailhead and the Greenstone Trailhead but decided it likely wasn’t (good call).

IMG_1025The “hidden” trailhead sign.

We set off on the road which indeed had a few potholes.
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We gained about 200′ getting to the Greenstone Trailhead passing another graffiti filled shooting area at an old quarry and finding yet more evidence of target practice at the Greenstone Trailhead.
IMG_1045Despite the empty shell casings and garbage left by the shooters there were some nice flowers along the road.

IMG_1048Valerian

IMG_1049Bleeding heart

IMG_1051The Greenstone Trailhead

IMG_1052People suck

The Jack-Ash Trail turned uphill over a dirt berm and continued on a old road bed for another half mile or so.
IMG_1055Nicer signs on the other side of the berm.

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There were quite a few Henderson’s fawn lilies blooming along this stretch which was a flower we had not encountered in bloom until this trip so we took a lot of pictures.
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20220527_073940Can you spot the insect?

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IMG_1097Trillium

The old road bed became fainter the further we went and eventually at a post the Jack-Ash Trail veered uphill to the right.
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The trail climbed up through an open forest that showed signs of a previous fire. We made three switchbacks gaining approximately 400′ in the process. The under story here was full of milk-vetch and wild iris and was also hosting a number of ticks.
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IMG_1126Milkvetch

IMG_1127Iris

IMG_1130Pacific houndstongue

20220527_081407We managed to spot a few of the bloodsuckers before they grabbed my pants but we also had to flick 6-8 of the little buggers off.

IMG_1137Charred tree trunks along the trail.

After climbing near to the top of the ridge the trail leveled off and straightened out as it headed south following the ridge.
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IMG_1147Snow queen

IMG_1151No signs of fire here.

Approximately two miles from the Greenstone Trailhead we left the forest at a small saddle below Anderson Butte.
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Had we been doing Sullivan’s described hike we would have been coming from the other direction and at the edge of the forest where he says to “..turn uphill on a smaller, unmarked trail that leads to an old roadbed..”. We got a bit turned around here because we only saw two trails, the continuation of the Jack-Ash Trail and a faint trail passing an unmarked post heading west.
IMG_1162The Jack-Ash Trail continuing south.

IMG_1157The trail heading west.

The problem was Anderson Butte was to the SE not to the west but we wandered out on that trail just to make sure we were reading the map right. The path led a short distance to a knoll confirming this wasn’t the trail to Anderson Butte.
IMG_1158Balsamroot

IMG_1171Phlox

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We walked back to the saddle and then walked back into the forest a few steps to a faint trail heading slightly uphill toward the butte and turned onto it.
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This trail soon joined an old roadbed.
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Four tenths of a mile after leaving the Jack-Ash Trail we arrived at another road where we made a sharp right turn and climbed a quarter mile to the former lookout site.
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IMG_1198Scarlet fritillary – Fritillaria recurva

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There were an number of wildflowers around the summit and despite the cloudy day the views were good.
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IMG_1220Parsley, larkspur, prairie stars and blue-eyed Mary.

IMG_1229Lupine and buckwheat

IMG_1216Mt. McLoughlin (post)

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IMG_1227Zoomed shot of Dutchman Peak

IMG_1230Zoomed shot of Red Buttes

After a nice break at the summit we followed a trail down the southern ridge of the butte.
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IMG_1236Paintbrush, blue-eyed Mary, and redstem storksbill

IMG_1241A stonecrop

After 0.2 miles this trail joined a roadbed which we followed for roughly 450 feet. We were looking for a short connector trail described by Sullivan that would take us down to the Jack-Ash Trail. If we couldn’t find the connector Sullivan mentioned a steep OHV Trail that could be used.
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We weren’t really seeing anything that looked like a connector but we thought we saw what might be a very faint path leading downhill through a more open section of forest at a point where the GPS showed the Jack-Ash Trail less than 100 yards away. Whether or not this was the right spot it seemed preferable to a steep OHV trail so we set off downhill and soon found ourselves back on the Jack-Ash.
IMG_1243Where we left the roadbed.

IMG_1244Back on the Jack-Ash.

Before heading back toward the car we continued south on the trail a little over three quarters of a mile to the Anderson Ridge Trailhead. This stretch of trail was relatively level with more views and wildflowers. As we neared the Anderson Ridge Trailhead we did hear some shooting along the road on the other side of the ridge but we never saw anyone and they weren’t at the actual trailhead.
IMG_1246Giant white wakerobbin

IMG_1249Paintbrush and waterleaf

IMG_1252Grayback Mountain to the left with snow.

IMG_1253The OHV trail crossing the Jack-Ash Trail.

IMG_1255The OHV trail coming down from the road.

IMG_1259Lupine

20220527_094828Larkspur

IMG_1263Always appreciate a good mountain locator.

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IMG_1271Mariposa lily

IMG_1274Paintbrush

IMG_1279Silverleaf phacelia

IMG_1286Some sort of big thistle on the hillside.

IMG_1289Some pink lupine.

20220527_095839Rough eyelash-weed

IMG_1295Western wallflower with a crab spider.

IMG_1312Clustered broomrape

IMG_1316Buckwheat, paintbrush, and lupine

IMG_1321Plectritis

IMG_1325Nearing the Anderson Ridge Trailhead.

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This trailhead had a sign-in log so we filled that out and then headed back sticking to the Jack-Ash Trail and passing below Anderson Butte.
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IMG_1337

IMG_1338Miniture lupine

IMG_1352A ringlet on fiddleneck.

IMG_1356Post at the OHV trail crossing.

20220527_104523Salsify

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IMG_1364Yarrow

IMG_1367The Jack-Ash Trail nearing the saddle where we had turned off to go up Anderson Butte.

IMG_1369Wild onion (possibly Siskiyou)

IMG_1371Meadowfoam

IMG_1377Royal Jacobs-ladder

20220527_115145Royal Jacobs-ladder

IMG_1389The berm at the Greenstone Trailhead.

We were happy to find that there was no one using the Griffin Gap Trailhead when we got back and aside from the gunfire near Anderson Butte we hadn’t seen or heard any other people all day. The hike came in just a bit over 9 miles with approximately 1650′ of elevation gain. The incoming wet weather held off aside from a couple of sprinkles but the cloud cover kept the temperature very comfortable which was welcome after the previous two days.

This hike was a needed break from both the heat and poison oak. We only spotted the latter a couple of times on open hillsides but never had to worry about it. Long pants were still useful though due to the occasional ticks that we had to stop and flick off my pants (we never saw any on Heather this time). We were starting to feel like we were back on track now that we were halfway through our trip. Saturday looked to be a rainy one so we were going to stick close to the motel and check out the Denman Wildlife Refuge. For now though we headed back to Medford looking forward to our leftover pizza from Kaleidoscope. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Jack-Ash Trail

Categories
Hiking Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Upper Table Rock – 05/26/2022

After the debacle at Mule Mountain (post) we made some adjustments to our planned set of hikes by removing a hike up Stein Butte and a stop at Lower Table Rock which we had visited on a previous trip (post) and shortening our other planned outings. Removing Stein Butte left open the option to not hike on Thursday if we needed a full day of rest which as we went to bed Wednesday night seemed likely. We got up Thursday and hobbled down to the motel’s continental breakfast to finalize our plans for the day which included a trip to the store for food and medical supplies and doing a load of laundry to hopefully wash off any lingering poison oak that we’d picked up on the Mule Creek Trail. It was going to be another warm day but then the forecast showed a dramatic shift with precipitation possible Friday through Sunday including snow as low as 4500′. While we ate we decided that it was going to be too nice to not get out at all and waiting for the afternoon/evening would result in a warmer hike than we’d like so we decided to head to Upper Table Rock as soon as we were done with breakfast.

The Table Rocks are a pair of horseshoe shaped mesas north of Medford and host a variety of Spring wildflowers. Pre Mule Mountain our plan had been to hike both Upper and Lower Table Rocks along with a visit to the Denman Wildlife Area. The plan now was to skip Lower Table Rock this time and split the two other hikes up with the shorter, Upper Table Rock today, and a little longer loop at Denman on Saturday which was forecast to be the rainiest day of the weekend. When we arrived at the Upper Table Rock Trailhead a little before 8am it was already fairly warm out.
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We stopped at the signboards and reviewed the map determining to do the yellow “recommended loop” once we had climbed the 1.25 miles to the top of the mesa.
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There were a good number of flowers still blooming and although poison oak is profuse in the area the wide trail made it easy to avoid. We were definitely feeling the effects of the prior days hike though as we gained the 700’+ of elevation to the start of the loop.
IMG_0784Acorn woodpecker

IMG_0788Death camas and vetch

IMG_0789Carrotleaf horkelia

IMG_0794Lazuli bunting

IMG_0799Finch

IMG_0792

IMG_0801Lupine

IMG_0807Oregon sunshine

IMG_0810Andestite boulder

IMG_0803Mt. McLoughlin (post)

IMG_0811Ground squirrel having breakfast

20220526_081826Blow wives

IMG_0819A clarkia

IMG_0826Blue dicks

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IMG_0832Paintbrush (and poison oak)

20220526_082152Could be a cutleaf silverpuff or a hawksbeard

IMG_0843Viewpoint bench at the half mile point.

20220526_083031Clustered broomrape

IMG_0856Siskiyou Mountains including Mt. Ashland (post), Wagner Butte (post), and Dutchman Peak.

IMG_0857Another type of clarkia

IMG_0870Possibly bastard toadflax

IMG_0874Mariposa lilies

IMG_0875Balsamroot along the trail.

IMG_0879Bell catchfly

IMG_0881Plumed solomonseal

IMG_0884Approaching the start of the loop.

We did the 0.9 mile loop counter-clockwise trying to stick to the most worn trails where the official trail wasn’t obvious.
IMG_0885Looking toward the Siskiyous.

IMG_0886The Red Buttes (post)

IMG_0889Pilot Rock (post)

IMG_0890Mt. Ashland (w/snow) and Wagner Butte

IMG_0894A couple of different wildflowers.

IMG_0896Narrowleaf onion?

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IMG_0912Pincushion plant

IMG_0917Meadowfoam

IMG_0919Not sure what these yellow flowers are. Yellow flowers are by far the hardest to figure out.

IMG_0922Rock wren

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IMG_0928Turkey vulture in flight with Mt. McLoughlin in the background.

IMG_0934Lower Table Rock beyond the other bench of Upper Table Rock.

IMG_0941An American kestral atop a tree.

IMG_0944Lizard

IMG_0957A butterfly and a beetle on arrowleaf buckwheat

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IMG_0975Yarrow

IMG_0978Chaparral false bindweed

IMG_0995White tritelia

After completing the loop, along with taking a couple of breaks to enjoy the scenery, we headed back down to the trailhead. Along the way we spotted a few more species of wildlife and passed a couple of elementary school classes heading up the trail.
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IMG_1004Rufous sided hummingbird

IMG_1013Lizard

IMG_1022Brown headed cowbird

IMG_1019Mt. McLoughlin on the way down.

This hike was just what we needed after the previous days outing. The 3.5 miles and 720′ of elevation gain kept our muscles moving and helped us not stiffen up too much but it was easy enough that we didn’t feel we overexerted ourselves.

After the hike we stopped at Fred Meyer for supplies and lunch from their deli then returned to the motel to do a load of laundry. Later we headed out to Kaleidoscope Pizza having seen it mentioned in a post by Boots on the Trail. It was a good choice and we wound up with leftovers for the next nights dinner as well. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Upper Table Rock

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

Mule Mountain – 05/25/2022

We took a few days of vacation prior to Memorial Day weekend and headed to Medford, OR for six days of hiking. Our original plan had been to make 8 different stops over those 6 days hiking around 70 miles. Seven of the stops would be new to us with two of the hikes being featured hikes in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California” (4.2 edition) that we were hoping to cross of our list. Two others involved featured hikes that we had done part of previously and were now looking to complete another portion. The other three hikes that we hadn’t done were listed in the “More Hikes” section in the back of his book. I said our original plan because after the first hike our plans were blown up. For the first hike we picked Mule Mountain which had been a featured hike in Sullivan’s 3rd edition but lost that status after the Mule Mountain Trailhead was closed in 2016. From that previous trailhead the first 0.3 miles of the Mule Mountain Trail pass across private land and the Forest Service has so far been unable to obtain an easement. The Forest Service shows two alternate trailheads that can be used to access the loop that Sullivan describes – the Charlie Buck/Baldy Peak Trailhead and the Mule Creek/Baldy Peak Trailhead. Sullivan and Oregon Hikers suggest starting at the Charlie Buck/Baldy Peak Trailhead which is what we chose to do.
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Our planned hike here looked to be about 12 miles with approximately 4000′ of cumulative elevation gain. Those numbers were quite similar to our hike at Elk & Kings Mountain (post) the previous Saturday. That had been a hard hike but not anything that we couldn’t manage and we had forgotten to bring our Endurolytes on that hike. These have seemed to really help on warmer/more difficult hikes when we work up a good sweat. It was supposed to be a little warmer for this hike with highs forecast to be in the mid to upper 70s but we had hydrated ahead of time, were carrying full water bladders and a filter to get additional water from Mule Creek if the opportunity arose. Despite the similarities in overall statistics there were a couple of key differences between the two hikes that we failed to take fully into account. The biggest difference was that it had been a brisk 37 degrees at 6:50am when we set off on the steep climb at Elk Mountain while here due to the long drive time from Salem it was 9:20am when we started and already in the mid 60s. Another key difference was that the majority of the elevation gain on the previous hike had been during the first half of the hike meaning we were done earlier in the day with the most strenuous portions. Here the climbs were broken up with a steep initial 1200′ climb in the first mile and a longer 3.5 mile 2000′ climb later near the end prior to the final downhill mile. The other differences were the amount of direct Sun exposure involved in this hike and that the one long downhill section on the Mule Creek Trail would involve a lightly maintained trail requiring extra effort.

The hike started off nice enough despite the steep initial climb. We spotted a number of wildflowers and a couple of alligator lizards as we huffed our way upwards.
IMG_0368

IMG_0367Mariposa lilies

IMG_0372Alligator lizard

20220525_093017Henderson’s stars

IMG_0383Hooker’s Indian pink

IMG_0390Fern leaf biscuitroot

20220525_093338Blue dicks

IMG_0400Larkspur

IMG_0404Paintbrush

20220525_093613Mariposa lily

IMG_0418Another alligator lizard. They eat ticks but in this case it appears a couple ticks got the jump on him (or her).

IMG_0420Lupine

IMG_0426View from the trail.

IMG_0437Grayback Mountain to the right in the distance.

IMG_0440Fiddleneck

IMG_0450Miniture lupine

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IMG_0460A lupine, clarkia and madia?

IMG_0467Madia

IMG_0476A molting lizard.

IMG_0477A lomatium

IMG_0484Believe this is a female black-headed grosbeak

IMG_0485The Red Buttes (post) in the distance.

IMG_0502Red bells, these were on a short wish list of wildflowers that we’d yet to see on trail.

After the mile climb the trail gained a ridge on the west shoulder of Baldy Peak and began a 0.4 mile traverse below the peak through an open grassy hillside. Sullivan showed a 0.3 mile use trail leading up this ridge to the summit of Baldy Peak but while Heather noticed the trail neither of us at the time remembered it was on Sullivan’s map (I thought it was at the other end of the 0.4 mile traverse.) which was probably a good thing.
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IMG_0518Poppy

IMG_0524Scraggy Mountain behind Little Grayback Mountain

IMG_0526Red Buttes behind Little Grayback Mountain

IMG_0530Butterfly on scat.

When we arrived at the ridge at the end of the 0.4 mile segment we spotted a faint trail heading up Baldy Peak.
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After giving it some thought and consulting Sullivan’s map we realized that this wasn’t the trail he showed and so we decided to skip Baldy Peak for now and then see if it was something we wanted to attempt on our way back by later. In addition to the use trail heading up Baldy Peak the Mule Mountain Trail joined the Baldy Peak Trail on the ridge. For now though we headed out along the ridge on what was now a much more level trail.
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IMG_0541Mule Mountain is the lower peak along the ridge with the brown left side.

IMG_0539Lupine

IMG_0540Prairie stars

IMG_0545Balsamroot

IMG_0554Blue-eyed Mary

IMG_0559A collection of various small wildflowers.

20220525_111535Rough eyelashweed

IMG_0568Bee on silverleaf phacelia

IMG_0570Poppies

IMG_0576Butterfly on grass

20220525_112746Blue gilia

IMG_0578Grayback Mountain behind Mule Mountain

IMG_0580Yet another lizard

IMG_0584A colorful moth.

IMG_0602Little Grayback Mountain

The trail descended to a forested saddle before joining an old road bed that led to the Mule Creek/Baldy Creek Trailhead approximately 1.5 miles from the Mule Mountain Trail junction.
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IMG_0627Iris

IMG_0628Approaching the trailhead.

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A very short road walk brought us to the Mule Creek Trail on our right.
IMG_0632Looking back at the trailhead from the road.

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It was just a bit after noon now and it was getting pretty warm out so we were looking forward to the long downhill section in the forest. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, the Mule Creek Trail was in need of maintenance so there was some blowdown to navigate. Possibly worse, at least for those of us that aren’t used to a lot of poison oak, the trail was rather overgrown in places so we found ourselves twisting and turning in vain to try and avoid making any contact. Eventually we realized that wasn’t possible so we did our best to minimize contact and keep it to our clothing (we were wearing long pants/sleeves and sun gloves so we were pretty well covered).
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IMG_0638Henderson’s fawn lily, another one we could check off our wish list.

IMG_0643A typical obstacle.

IMG_0656Overgrown trail.

IMG_0658Giant white wakerobbin

IMG_0660Some flagging on the left and bleeding heart on the right.

IMG_0666Star flower

IMG_0668Striped coralroot

The trail crossed Mule Creek several times, sometimes there was water and other times it was dry. We were so busy trying to dodge poison oak though that we didn’t think to check our water supply and refill if necessary.
IMG_0678There was a good pool at this crossing where we could have gotten water.

IMG_0680California ground cones.

IMG_0687A folded up mushroom.

IMG_0692A butterfly

After almost three and a half miles following the creek the trail turned north and gradually climbed 250′ over the next three quarters of a mile to a junction with the Mule Mountain Trail.
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IMG_0698Apparently lady bugs and butterflies don’t care about poison oak.

IMG_0701The trail got pretty faint at times.

We eventually popped out of the forest into an oak grassland on a hillside overlooking Upper Applegate Road.
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The heat blasted us with the Sun beating down and Heather realized that despite the water and electrolyte tablets she wasn’t going to be able to make the climb back up to the shoulder of Baldy Peak. She decided that when we reached the Mule Mountain Trail she would head to the decommissioned trailhead and plead mercy if anyone questioned why she was trespassing.
IMG_0732Arriving at the Mule Mountain Trail.

While I too was warm I felt pretty good when we reached the junction so we decided to split up and I would retrieve the car and drive down to pick her up. It was about 0.8 miles downhill to Upper Applegate Road and I was a little concerned that Heather might pass out on her way down but said she would take it real slow. I was facing the 3.5 mile 2000′ climb back up and after we split the electrolyte tablets between us we went our separate ways. I set off at a slow but steady pace gradually climbing what was a forested hillside.
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IMG_0738White lupine

IMG_0743Grand collomia

As I neared Mule Mountain I lost what little cover the trees were providing though.
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IMG_0746Penstemon

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IMG_0756A brief section of shade.

IMG_0761Dwarf purple monkeyflower

Approximately 2.5 miles into the climb I hit a wall. I still had water that I was sipping on and the electrolytes but between the climb and all the sweat I had already lost I really began to struggle. I managed to make it another quarter of a mile or so to a small tree that was providing a bit of shade on a section of trail that was free from poison oak. I sat down in the shade in the middle of trail thinking that this might be where I waited for SAR. I had been praying for Heather to make it out safely and now I added my own safety to the list. I knew I was close to running out of water but I had plenty of food, extra clothing and a small pad that I could sit/sleep on if needed. I didn’t have cell service or an SOS beacon though so I sat, waited and prayed. While I waited for my hands and feet to stop tingling I flicked a lone tick off my pant leg, fought of a cramp behind my left knee, and worried about passing out and rolling down the hillside. I didn’t want that to happen and I knew I couldn’t sleep there if it came to that due to the same risk so after what felt like at least an hour (it was actually just over 20 minutes) I stood up and decided to make an attempt at the ridge where I knew I could spend the night. I was a little under three quarters of a mile from the ridge and a little over 400′ below it. My body had noticeably cooled down so I proceeded out of my shady spot and slowly climbed toward the ridge.
IMG_0765I needed to get just below the lone tree on the ridge in the distance.

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I pretty much had given up on pictures at that point and could only laugh at the thought of trying to climb Baldy Peak. Once I had gained the ridge I considered my next plan of action. It as a fairly level 0.4 traverse below Blady Peak to the other ridge where there were better spots to spend the night and I was feeling okay so I kept going. Miraculously my water held out until I had made the ridge even though I was sure every sip was going to be the last of it. It wasn’t until I was traversing below Baldy Peak that it was gone. Once I was on the western ridge I was only a mile from the car where I knew there was a cold powerade and some gatorades waiting. I wasn’t sure if my legs were strong enough though to handle the steep descent but I wanted to know if Heather had made it so after eating a little something I started downhill relying heavily on my poles. I made it back to the car half expecting to either find Heather there (if she had managed to find a ride) or SAR or both. It was just our car though so I grabbed a cold drink and started the drive down FR 940 to Beaver Creek Road (FR 20). When I got to Beaver Creek Road I promptly turned the wrong way, chalk that up to a deteriorated mental state, but almost immediately questioned myself so I pulled over and reread Sullivan’s driving direction and discovered my mistake. I drove back past FR 940 hoping I didn’t miss Heather or anyone heading up to the trailhead. Not long after passing FR 940 though I spotted Heather hiking up the road. She appeared to be doing a lot better than I was. As it turns out she had made it to the closed trailhead without incident and then made here way toward FR 940 stopping a few times to rest against fences. A little way up Beaver Creek Road she came to the Twin Pear Farm which had a small stand/store where she was able to buy some rations including a Popsicle which she ate while sitting in a chair there.
20220525_172728_HDRA random Minion in a field.

20220525_183323Deer along the road.

20220525_184238The Twin Pear Farm on the way back by.

My track at Mule Mountain

Heather wisely took over the driving duties and got us to our motel in Medford then ran out for some food from the DQ across the street. It was after 8pm and we were exhausted. We decided that we would plan on taking it easy the next day and probably skip the hike in lieu of recovery. It was an unnerving experience and a good reminder of how easily things can go wrong no matter how prepared you try to be. We did some things right including listening to our bodies and stopping/bailing when needed and had almost everything we needed aside from a rescue beacon. On the other hand we should have taken the opportunity to replenish our water at Mule Creek when we had a chance. That wouldn’t have helped Heather but it might have helped me a bit and definitely would have if I’d have had to spend the night out there. We also should be carrying a rescue beacon/satellite communicator but every year we talk about getting something then fail to be able to choose and wind up with nothing so any recommendations you have please leave in the comments. The good news was neither of us did get hit by poison oak so that was a big positive. Happy and safe Trails!

Flickr: Mule Mountain

Categories
Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report Willamette Valley

Chehalem Ridge Nature Park – 05/14/2022

May continues to be wet this year despite being in the midst of a drought. Hopefully these rainy days will help with that to some extent but in the meantime for the second week in a row we found ourselves looking for a “Plan B” hike that was more inclement weather friendly. We decided on the recently opened (December 2021) Chehalem Ridge Nature Park. Located in the Chehalem Mountains this 1260 acre park is managed by Metro which also manages Orenco Woods where we had started last week’s hike (post). Chehalem Ridge offers a network of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails but does not allow pets/dogs. The park website states that the park is open from sunrise to sunset which I mention because Google seemed to think it opened at 6:30am and entries in the Oregon Hikers Field Guide (Iowa Hill & Chehalem Ridge) give the hours as 8am to 7pm. With sunrise being a little before 6am this time of year we gambled on the Metro website hours and arrived at the large Chehalem Ridge Trailhead at 6am to find that the gate to the trailhead was indeed open.
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We had spent most of the hour drive passing through rain showers but there was no precipitation falling as we prepared to set off. We stopped at the signboard to read up on the park and to study the map to confirm out plan for the hike.
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Simply put the plan was to stay right at all junctions. This meant taking the Timber Road to the Ammefu (mountain in Atfalti (Northern Kalapuya)) Trail back to the Timber Road then to the Ayeekwa (bobcat in Atfalti) Trail to Witches Butter to the Chehalem (outside place in Atfalati) Ridge Trail. We would then follow the Chehalem Ridge Trail (detouring on a small partial loop) to the Madrona Trail and follow it to it’s end at a loop near some madrone trees. Our return would be back along the Madrona Trail to the Chehalem Ridge Trail (skipping the partial loop this time) to the Mampaꞎ (lake in Atfalati) Trail then right on the Zorzal (Spanish for thrush) Trail back to the Mampaꞎ Trail to Iowa Hill where the Mampaꞎ Trail ends in a loop around the hill. From Iowa Hill we would return to the Timber Road via the Mampaꞎ Trail and follow the road downhill to the Woodland Trail which we would follow back to the trailhead. The route could have been confusing but Metro has done an excellent job with not only placing posts identifying the trails at all of the junctions but also including maps on top of the posts.
The other nice touch is that the maps on these posts were oriented differently to align with the direction of the trail with north identified in the legend which made them quicker to read.

We set off down the Timber Road past the first of three figures located throughout the park representing the traditional storytelling of the Atfalti.
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IMG_9691The Castor (Spanish for beaver) Trail on the left, this was the only trail in the park that we didn’t hike on during our visit. It was always a left turn.

IMG_9695Fawn lilies

IMG_9697Our first right turn (left was a short connector to the Woodland Trail).

IMG_9698Again the posts and accompanying maps were some of the best trail identifiers we’ve run across.

IMG_9700Bench at the viewpoint along the Ammefu Trail.

IMG_9701We had to imagine the view today.

IMG_9702The second figure.

IMG_9708Back at the Timber Road and another short connector to the Woodland Trail.

IMG_9709Fog on Timber Road

IMG_9712Passing the Woodland Trail on the left which would be our right turn on the way back.

IMG_9713Christensen Creek

IMG_9714Right turn for the Ayeekwa and Witches Butter Trails.

IMG_9715Witchs Butter on the left and Ayeekwa on the right.

IMG_9716Trillium

Some of the trails were gravel which helped keep mud from being an issue given the damp conditions. In fact there was only one spot (along the Madrona Trail) where mud was an issue at all.
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IMG_9719Another bench, this one overlooked Christensen Creek.

IMG_9720Common blue violet

IMG_9722Pioneer violets and a strawberry blossom.

IMG_9726Mushrooms under a fern.

IMG_9727Popping out on the Witches Butter Trail.

IMG_9728Witches Butter Trail

IMG_9737Witches Butter Trail winding through Douglas firs.

IMG_9742Turning right onto the Chehalem Ridge Trail.

IMG_9745There was a little more mud on the Chehalem Ridge Trail.

IMG_9754Spring green carpet.

IMG_9756A good example of the differently oriented maps, on this one north is down.

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IMG_9759Another fir plantation. The land had been owned by a timber company prior to being purchased by Metro in 2010.

IMG_9760Start of the Chehalem Ridge Loop. We went right which simply swung out along the hillside before dropping down to the Madrona Trail in 0.4 miles.

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IMG_9763The loop continued to the left but we turned right onto the Madrona Trail.

The one thing that was hard to distinguish on the maps was the topography so we were a little surprised when the Madrona Trail continued to descend the hillside. (Had we read the Oregon Hikers Field Guide more closely we would have been prepared.) The trail switchbacked a total of 11 times before arriving at an old roadbed which it continued along to the right.
IMG_9769Still cloudy and gray but we’d experience very little if any precipitation yet.

IMG_9772Lots of tough-leaved iris along this trail.

IMG_9773One of several blooming dogwood trees.

IMG_9774View on the way down.

IMG_9775Madrone trees began to be a common sight as we descended.

IMG_9776One of the 11 switchbacks.

IMG_9777We hadn’t seen a lot of mushrooms recently but this hike had plenty.

IMG_9781Following the roadbed.

The trail left the roadbed at a post and dropped down to the 0.1 mile loop at the end of the Madrona Trail.
IMG_9783Aside from one other very small (3 in diameter) tree this was the only obstacle we encountered all day.

IMG_9784The start of the loop along with several madrones.

As we started back from the loop Heather mentioned that there should be a deer in the brush nearby and I jokingly said that there probably was and pointed out a game trail heading down to a small stream. As soon as I had finished my remark Heather spotted a doe that emerged from the bushes along the game trail. The doe made her way to the far hillside before we could get a good look at her.
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After watching the deer for a while we began the climb back up to the Chehalem Ridge Loop. It had felt like we’d come a long ways down but the climb back wasn’t any where near as bad as we expected it to be (In reality we’d only lost about 400′). It was as we were hiking back up that the first vestiges of blue sky appeared.
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IMG_9811The Tualatin Valley and Coast Range.

We stayed right at the Chehalem Ridge Loop to finish that loop and then retraced our steps on the Chehalem Ridge Trail back to Witches Butter Trail junction where we stayed right on the Chehalem Ridge Trail to its end at a three way junction. We had only seen 3 other people all morning, a trail runner on our way to the Madrona Trail and two hikers as we were coming back. We did however need to keep our eyes out for other trail users.
IMG_9819Either these worms were racing or it was a bird buffet. The rain had brought a lot of earthworms onto the trails.

IMG_9821Another trail user a rough skinned newt.

IMG_9824A closer look at the rough skinned newt.

We also spotted a pileated woodpecker at the top of a dead tree. Between the distance and other trees in between I couldn’t get a good picture.
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IMG_9831It had been so foggy when we had come up the Witches Butter Trail that we hadn’t realized that there was a giant green field nearby.

IMG_9834The end of the Chehalem Ridge Trail with the Mampaꞎ Trail to the right and a very short connector to the Timber Road to the left.

We briefly followed the Mampaꞎ Trail then turned right onto the Zorzal Trail.
IMG_9836Sunlight hitting the Mampaꞎ Trail.

IMG_9837Fairy slippers

IMG_9842Squirrel

IMG_9845The Zorzal Trail to the right.

IMG_9847Toothwort along the Zorzal Trail.

IMG_9848Stripped coralroot

The Zorzal Trail swung out and then rejoined the Mampaꞎ Trail near the Timber Road. We yet again turned right, crossed the Timber Road near a gate and continued on the Mampaꞎ Trail.
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The Mampaꞎ Trail passed along Iowa Hill before turning uphill and entering a wildflower meadow on the hilltop where a loop began.
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There was a large amount of lupine in the meadow but we were several weeks early and only a few plants had any blossoms. There were a few other flowers blooming and many more to come over the next few weeks.
IMG_9860An assortment of smaller flowers.

IMG_9861One of the few lupines with blossoms.

IMG_9865Camas buds

IMG_9870Oak tree on Iowa Hill. Most of the larger green clumps are lupine.

On the western side of the loop was a horse hitch, bike rack and stone circle where we sat and took a break.
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IMG_9873The third and final figure was also located near the stone circle.

As we sat and enjoyed the sun breaks and views we began spotting a few other wildflowers hiding in the lupine.
IMG_9874Yarrow

IMG_9876More lupine starting to blossom.

IMG_9877Tualatin Valley

IMG_9880Plectritis

IMG_9886Believe this is a checker mallow.

IMG_9888Parsley

IMG_9894Camas

IMG_9899Iris

IMG_9906White crowned sparrow

Buttercups in the lupine.

After a nice rest we finished the loop and headed back to the Timber Road which we followed downhill for six tenths of a mile to the Woodland Trail.
IMG_9913Turning down the Timber Road.

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IMG_9919I’m not good with these little yellowish birds. It could be an orange-crowned warbler.

IMG_9921Black capped chickadee

IMG_9924Approaching the Woodland Trail on the right.

IMG_9927Woodland Trail

We followed this trail for 1.4 winding miles back to the trailhead.
IMG_9930Candyflower

IMG_9932Coming to a switchback.

IMG_9936We ignored a couple of shortcuts that would have led back to the Timber Road.

IMG_9943We also skipped the Castor Trail which would have slightly lengthened the hike.

IMG_9946Lupine along the Woodland Trail as we neared the trailhead.

IMG_9947Much nicer conditions than we’d had that morning and way nicer than anything we had expected.

Our hike came to 12.1 miles with approximately 1200′ of elevation gain utilizing portions of all but one of the parks trails.

Again we had been fortunate enough to avoid any significant precipitation. The weather forecast had kept the crowds away though and we only encountered about 15 other hikers all day, the majority of which had been during the final hour of our hike. We were very impressed by the park and have put it on our list of nearby go to destinations when weather or other factors keep us from going someplace new. The number of different trails provide for hikes of various lengths with none of the trails being too challenging. There was also a decent variety of scenery in the park and it looks like the wildflower display on Iowa Hill toward the end of May will be amazing. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Chehalem Ridge Nature Park

Categories
Columbia Gorge North Hiking Trip report Washington

Balfour-Klickitat and Lower Klickitat Trails – 04/02/2022

We have spent much of our hiking “off-season” addressing long overdue house projects including replacing siding, windows, floors, and now countertops. Hopefully the projects will be done shortly after our official hiking season starts. In the meantime we welcomed the start of a new month with an outing to Lyle, WA for hikes on a pair of trails along the Klickitat River. Our first stop, on the west side of the river, was at the Balfour-Klickitat Trail. The site of a former ranch this day-use area includes a short interpretive loop, picnic tables, and a wildlife viewing path.
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IMG_8374Rowena Plateau and Tom McCall Point (post) on the Oregon side of the Columbia River

We headed counter-clockwise on the loop which provided views of the Columbia River and across the Klickitat to Lyle.
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The trail then turned inland along the Klickitat where a noisy group of domestic geese drew our attention to a pair of common mergansers and great blue heron.
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IMG_8405A blurry heron along the river.

We spotted a number of smaller birds in the bushes and trees as we made our way around the loop. We also took a quick detour downhill to a picnic table overlooking the river.
IMG_8407Acorn woodpecker

IMG_8417Scrub jay

IMG_8418View from the picnic table.

A short time after returning to the loop we came to a sign for the Wildlife Viewing Area near a bench where we made another short detour.
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IMG_8425This trail was not paved.

IMG_8428Woodland-stars

IMG_8434View from a bench at the end of the trail.

IMG_8435Mallards on the water below.

After checking out the wildlife viewing area we completed the 0.75 mile loop which brought our stop here to a total of 1.3 miles. We hopped in our car and drove across the river on Hwy 14 to the Lyle Trailhead. Here the 31-mile long Klickitat Trail begins. This Washington State Park trail follows the historic rail bed of the Spokane, Portland, Seattle Railway (SP&S). A 3 mile section of the trail north of Klickitat, WA is currently unhikeable due to a missing bridge over the Klickitat River effectively splitting the trail southern and northern sections of 13 and 15 miles respectively. We hiked 3.8 miles along the end of the northern section from Harms Road in 2014 (post).
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IMG_8449Starting at mile 0.

The trail starts by passing some private homes in Lyle but soon provides views down to the Klickitat River. Across the river we spotted a number of deer working their across the hillside and a bald eagle surveying the river below.
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IMG_8458Keep your eyes out for poison oak which was prevalent along the trail. Luckily the trail is nice and wide so avoiding it was easy enough.

IMG_8469Heather spotted these three deer across the river.

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IMG_8474Another group of deer.

IMG_8487Bald eagle

We had chosen this hike based on Matt Reeder’s entry in his “PDX Hiking 365” guidebook where he recommends a late March visit for wildflowers. We kept our eyes out for flowers as we went and were not disappointed.
20220402_080542Larkspur and woodland-stars

IMG_8491Buttercups

IMG_8493Pacific hound’s tongue

IMG_8495Milepost 1

IMG_8496Saxifrage

IMG_8500Balsamroot

At the 1.7 mile mark we crossed the river on a Fisher Hill Bridge. The view was great and included a series of small cascades on Silvas Creek.
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IMG_8504Silvas Creek

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We continued north on the trail passing some nice views of the river which were briefly ruined by the smell of rotting flesh (fish?) which brought back memories of the decomposing whale we passed several years ago on our Floras Lake Hike (post).
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20220402_083857Blue-eyed Mary

At mile two we passed the Lyle Falls Facility which is a fish monitoring station.
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Beyond the fish facility the gap between the trail and the river closed and the views become even prettier.
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IMG_8526Seasonal pool along the trail.

The only mountain view of the day was along this stretch with Mt. Hood making an appearance to the south.
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IMG_8536Common mergansers

A short distance upstream we passed a screw trap, an instrument used to trap and count young fish.
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We continued upriver until we reached milepost 6 where we called it good and turned around. I had gotten myself confused by misreading Reeder’s hike description and thought that there was another bridge around the 5 mile mark and had originally planned to turn around at that but since it didn’t exist (and we didn’t realize that until after passing MP 5) we made MP 6 the turnaround marker.
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IMG_8542Popcorn flower

IMG_8544Columbia desert parsley

IMG_8546Lupine

IMG_8549Balsamroot

IMG_8554Shooting stars

IMG_8560Buttercups

IMG_8561Waterleaf

IMG_8567A balsamroot amid pungent desert parsley

IMG_8564Big-leaf maple trees lining the trail.

20220402_091018Big-leaf maple blossoms

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IMG_8574Gold stars

IMG_8583Larkspur, poison oak, and buttercups

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IMG_8589Spotted towhee

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IMG_8600Squirrel

IMG_8609Dillacort Canyon

20220402_101749Red-stem storksbill

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After turning around we took a brief break on a rocky beach near MP6.
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On our way back it had warmed enough for the butterflies (and moths) to come out and we watched for them along with anything we’d missed on our first pass.
IMG_8633Couldn’t get a good look at this small moth but it was pretty.

IMG_8643Anise swallowtail

IMG_8644Sara’s orangetip

IMG_8654Grass widow

20220402_112438Slender phlox

IMG_8672Heading back.

IMG_8685Immature bald eagle

IMG_8688Propertius duskywing – Erynnis propertius

IMG_8690The mergansers had moved to the near bank.

IMG_8698Hood behind some clouds.

IMG_8700Ground squirrel

IMG_8708Mourning cloak

IMG_8718Lizard

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View from the Fisher Hill Bridge in the afternoon.

IMG_8741Arriving back at the Lyle Trailhead.

Some backtracking and detours brought our hike to a little over 12.5 miles here giving us close to 14 miles on the day with only a couple of hundred feet of elevation gain.

Rattlesnakes and ticks are present in the area but we encountered neither on this day. It was a nice break from the projects at home and a good way to end our off-season. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Blafour-Klickitat and Lower Klickitat Trails

Categories
Central Oregon Hiking Ochoco Mountains Oregon Trip report

Walton Lake & Round Mountain – 06/18/2021

After spending three nights in Pendleton and two John Day it was time for us to head back to Salem on Friday. We planned on stopping at Walton Lake in the Ochoco National Forest along the way to visit the man made lake where I had spent some time in my childhood. We also planned to hike from the lake to the summit of Round Mountain which we had done from the opposite side back in 2017 (post). After our hike we were meeting Heather’s parents for a late lunch/early dinner in Redmond at Madeline’s before continuing home to Salem.

We left John Day a little before 5am and arrived at Walton Lake shortly after 6:30am. There were already several folks our fishing and we were met by the camp greeters.
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A paved/gravel 0.8 mile trail encircles the lake with the Walton Lake Trail splitting off on the south side of Walton Lake. We decided to hike around the lake clockwise passing the small dam that created the lake and a number of campsites before arriving at the unsigned Walton Lake Trail after 0.6 miles. Along with the people fishing there were a number of ducks (including ducklings), geese and coots around the lake.
IMG_8625American coot and a duck family.

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IMG_8638Spotted sandpiper

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IMG_8645Pied billed grebe

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IMG_8654Mountain bluebird

IMG_8656The spur of the Walton Lake Trail that leads to the Round Mountain Trail.

We turned up the spur trail which climbed through a meadow where several families of geese were hanging out.
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After 0.2 miles the spur trail crosses the campground road.
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It was about this time that we realized that we hadn’t put our NW Forest Pass out. We headed back down to the lake and completed to the 0.8 mile loop to put our pass out. We later realized that it wasn’t good at Walton Lake anyway and paid the $5 day use fee.
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IMG_8676A saxifrage.

This is also a good time mention that a 0.3 mile segment of the spur trail between Forest Road 2220 and Forest Road 22 is by Forest Order 06-07-01-21-02 closed from 5/18/21 to 10/31/21 (or until rescinded). There were no signs present at the start of the spur trail nor at the crossing of FR 2220, the notice was however posted at the FR 22 crossing (along with a warning about sheep dogs).
IMG_8696The order also states that the closure area will be signed along with pink flagging along all boundaries on the ground (we didn’t see any pink flagging at FR 2220).

Fortunately the Round Mountain North Trailhead is just on the other side of FR 22 from the Walton Lake entrance if you don’t want to road walk around the closure. Assuming you are coming from the FR 22 crossing though the Walton Lake Trail continues 1/2 mile to its end at the Round Mountain Trail (0.2 miles from the North Trailhead).
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IMG_8702Larkspur

Approximately 0.4 miles from FR 22 the trail passes a snow survey site in a small meadow where we spotted several does.
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A short distance beyond the meadow we arrived at the Round Mountain Trail where we turned left. (Ignore the sign, it was the only one present and it was facing the wrong way.)
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The trail climbed to a dry, rocky plateau but not before first passing a nice display of lupine.
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20210618_080749Chocolate lily

IMG_8749The rocky plateau with Round Mountain to the right.

IMG_8750Death camas

IMG_8752A wild onion

IMG_8757Yarrow

The trail dipped off the plateau and lost a little elevation on its way to a saddle below Round Mountain. Just over 2 miles from the Walton Lake Trail we passed Scissors Spring in a meadow on our right.
IMG_8762Paintbrush

IMG_8768Valerian along the trail.

IMG_8767California tortoiseshell on valerian.

IMG_8772Mt. Jefferson from the trail.

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20210618_083047Maybe a miterwort?

IMG_8779Milbert’s tortoiseshell

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IMG_8790Scissors Spring

IMG_8791A fleabane

20210618_085307Geranium

Beyond the spring the trail began to climb through a series of hellebore filled meadows.
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IMG_8808

IMG_8813Woodpecker

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IMG_8818Another doe

IMG_8823A comma butterfly of some sort.

IMG_8831Possibly some sort of phlox?

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IMG_8836Another wild onion

IMG_8837Mountain bluebells

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Threeleaf lewisiaThreeleaf lewisia

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IMG_8854Butterfly on Jessica stickseed

IMG_8865A larkspur, Jessica stickseed, and hyssop

IMG_8867Robin

IMG_8863Mountain view from a meadow.

IMG_8862Mt. Jefferson

IMG_8864Mt. Hood

Just over a mile from the spring the trail made a switchback at which point it steepened noticeably. The next 1/3 of a mile consisted of steep switchbacks through a hellebore meadow to Round Mountain Road 0.2 miles from the summit.
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IMG_8882Viewpoint at one of the switchbacks. Cascade Mountains from Diamond Peak to Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_8884Diamond Peak

IMG_8886Mt. Bachelor

IMG_8887Ball Butte and Broken Top

IMG_8888Three Sisters

IMG_8889Mt. Washington

IMG_8890Three Fingered Jack

IMG_8891Mt. Jefferson

IMG_8893The trail sign along Round Mountain Road up the hill.

IMG_8896Fritillary butterfly

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IMG_8901Silky phacelia

IMG_8904Prairie smoke

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IMG_8917Balsamroot

IMG_8924Butterfly on an onion

20210618_100034Ladybug on lupine

IMG_8925Round Mountain summit

We sat on the cool concrete in the shade cast by the radio tower while we watched butterflies swirl through the air.
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IMG_8948And occasionally land.

IMG_8950Big Summit Prairie

IMG_8929Lookout Mountain (post)

IMG_8959Mt. Hood

IMG_8961Mt. Adams

After the break we returned the way we’d come with a slight delay caused by a Sara’s orangetip butterfly that refused to land despite repeatedly looking like it was going to as it flew in the same loop over and over again.
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IMG_8971Not too horrible of a photo of the orangetip on one of its many passes.

We retrieved our car from the now packed Walton Lake but not before checking out some of the wildlife one more time.
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IMG_9005A coot, a spotted sandpiper and ducks.

IMG_9001Osprey with a recently caught fish (we got to see the dive)

IMG_9010Ducklings

From Walton Lake we drove to Redmond where we were a bit early so we stopped at the Spud Bowl and watched some dogs playing in the sprinklers before meeting up with Heather’s parents at Madelines. We had a great meal then continued home to Salem. When a section of the trail isn’t closed (and you don’t have to go back to your car to after starting your hike) this would be about a 12 mile hike with approximately 1900′ of elevation gain while the 0.8 mile loop around Walton Lake would be great for kids. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Walton Lake and Round Mountian

Categories
Central Oregon Hiking John Day Oregon Trip report

Malheur River – 06/17/2021

After a night in John Day we headed south for a day hike on the Malheur River Trail. The trail starts at Malheur Ford Trailhead where Forest Road 1651 actually does ford the river.
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The Malheur, a designated Wild and Scenic River, is fed from the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness (post). The trail is 7.6 miles long running from the ford to another trailhead at Hog Flat. For our hike we planned on hiking around 6.5 miles of the trail at which point the trail would be starting the steep climb away from the river to Hog Flat. It was a pleasantly cool morning as we set off on the trail. Despite the Forest Service indicating that the trail had not been maintained it was in good shape with just a couple of trees to step over/around.
IMG_8357Bench near the trailhead.

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IMG_8363Lupine along the trail.

IMG_8378There was plenty of river access along the way.

20210617_065036Currant

IMG_8388Paintbrush and lupine along the trail.

IMG_8392Geraniums

IMG_8397Ponderosa pines

Mile markers were present (at least to mile 6) although we missed 3 & 5 on the way out. We managed to spot them on the way back though. There did seem to be a bit of a discrepancy regarding the first mile as there were two trees sporting “1”s.
IMG_8399First 1

IMG_8400Second 1

A little past the mile 1 markers the trail descended to Miller Creek where just a little water was present but it was enough to host a number of flowers.
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IMG_8407Camas

IMG_8416Balsamroot, columbine, geraniums and paintbrush.

The trail did several more ups and downs sometimes rising above the river and other times dropping down to flats along it. A rocky viewpoint just before the 2 mile mark was fairly impressive.
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IMG_8601Photo from the afternoon on the way back.

IMG_8603Photo from the afternoon on the way back.

IMG_8444Tree marking mile 2.

IMG_8448Typical “obstacles” that were present along the trail.

IMG_8454Columbine

IMG_8461Cusick’s sunflower?

IMG_8463Balsamroot or mule’s ears?

IMG_8472Woodland stars

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IMG_8478Mile 4

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Right around mile five (which we missed the marker for) was a riverside meadow of wildflowers.
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IMG_8498Salsify and geraniums

20210617_092225Sticky cinquefoil

IMG_8505Swallowtail on scarlet gilia

20210617_092314Geranium

IMG_8514Some sort of copper butterfly

IMG_8523A checkerspot

IMG_8533Iris

IMG_8539Balsamroot (or mule’s ears)

20210617_093615A fleabane

20210617_093639A different type of fleabane.

20210617_093941Larkspur

20210617_094301Rosy pussytoes

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After hanging out in the meadow watching the butterflies for awhile we continued on.
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IMG_8550Hog Flat is up on top of the hillside.

IMG_8556Mile 6 markers.

IMG_8557Cracked egg in the trail.

IMG_8562We passed this cairn around the 6.5 mile mark.

IMG_8563We turned around here shortly after passing the cairn. It appeared the trail was beginning it’s climb and we took the cairn and downed tree as signs that it was time to turn around. We did just that and headed back keeping our eyes open for the mile 3 and 5 markers.
IMG_8579A fritillary butterfly on an iris.

IMG_8581Found 5

IMG_8593This was a particularly tricky little muddy spot to stay dry crossing.

IMG_8595And there’s “3”.

IMG_8607Immature bald eagle. We saw it on the way out in the same area but couldn’t get a photo. This time it flew right by me, and I think it was giving me the stink eye.

IMG_8610

IMG_8614Back at the trailhead.

This was a 13.5 mile out and back with a few hundred feet of elevation gain spread over the various ups and downs along the way. There were plenty of views of the river and a nice variety of wildflowers and wildlife making this a nice river hike. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Malheur River Trail