Diamond Lake (north of Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon) is bracketed to the east by Mount Thielsen and to the west by Mount Bailey (8,368 feet). I’d been up Mount Thielsen before but Mount Bailey was still on the never diminishing list of hikes to do and I wanted to hike it while there was some snow to add character to the climb. So, with large patches of snow still lingering above 7,000 feet, and a favorable (non-electrifying) thunderstorm forecast, off I went up Highway 62 to Diamond Lake.
Except for the last 0.4 miles of bumpy dirt road, access to the lower start of the signed Mount Bailey Trail (USFS #1451) is paved and easy. There’s an upper trailhead which, if you can drive to it, cuts some distance and gain off the climb. The trail was in good condition as it climbed persistently up through the forest,
with only very few views east toward Mount Thielsen, past the A-frame snow shelter below Hemlock Butte,
and on up toward the looming summit of Mount Bailey.
The trail largely disappeared under snow at about 7,400 feet and from there I just followed the ridgeline, on a mix of snow and rocks, up toward the summit,
with ever better views of the Diamond Lake and pointy Mount Thielsen.
There is an actual crater on Bailey just below it’s south (lower) summit and I passed the crater on rocks and dirt on its east side before continuing on over the south summit.
The actual trail swings west of the crater and regains the ridge above the south summit but it was easier to just follow the rocks and snow up the center of the ridge. The snow had melted off the ridge north of the south summit and from there it looked like an easy shot to the higher north summit. From the south summit, the trail skirts the rocky protrusions on the ridge to the west and crosses a talus slope before regaining the ridge just short of the summit.
I started going west, only to find that the talus slope was covered with snow that had melted down to a density that really discouraged sidehill step kicking. I gave it a shot but the footing was precarious (I hadn’t thought to bring crampons or even microspikes) and I got to a section where the runout was long and a slip would have (at best) been painful. So I worked my way back to where the ridge is pierced with a keyhole,
and climbed the rocky part (R) of the ridge. This proved to be surprisingly easy and a lot safer and less nerve-wracking than crossing hard snow. Soon I was on the summit,
which had, from 1923 until 1952, been graced by a lookout (you can still see the eyebolt anchors just downslope).
Despite some haziness, the views in all directions were astounding!
Thunderstorms had been in the area over the past few days, so, as the clouds started to build, I had a quick lunch, and headed down.
A great hike on trail and snow, with some easy scrambling on the rocky ridge, leading to HUGE views! A summit seriously worth the effort (9.8 miles round-trip; 3,100 feet of elevation gain) to reach it!