Earlier this year (post), we made our first foray into the Marble Mountain Wilderness in Northern California. So we thought it was time to do another exploratory hike from one of the trailheads readily accessible from the east. Judging from the huge size of its parking lot, the Lovers Camp Trailhead is probably the most popular of these, so this time we tried the Shackleford Trailhead which is south of Lovers Camp and whose access is via bouncy gravel, not paved, roads. This is Hike #90 in Sullivan’s Southern Oregon hiking guide (Third Edition, 2014).
After considerable bouncy driving, we reached the trailhead, where we were greeted by a pit toilet and a few cows (cattle grazing was grandfathered in when this wilderness was established). The Shackleford Trail (USFS #5542) starts as a now abandoned road, which was lined with a few vaguely curious cows,
before it reaches the wilderness boundary, and narrows down into a trail.
We didn’t come into direct contact with any cows, but their impact was evident in the lack of undergrowth.
About 3.5 miles in from the trailhead, and after a little climbing, we passed the aptly named Log Lake,
continued on some true trail,
past a huge meadow (these expansive meadows are the main reason cows are grazing up here),
and continued on, to about 4 miles from the trailhead, where we junctioned with the Campbell Lake Trail (USFS #5541) and went up it. This was a little rougher trail,
which we followed uphill to where it emerges from the forest at Campbell Lake – a very picturesque waterbody hosting a variety of Eastern brook, rainbow, and brown trout.
From the exposed shoreline, it was obvious the lake had suffered from the drought and this season’s sharply diminished snowpack.
The Forest Service had posted a notice about an aggressive, food-obsessed bear roaming around the lake, so The LovedOne used her cold pizza lunch as bear bait. Fortunately, it proved totally ineffectual for this purpose.
After lunch, we used the Campbell Cutoff Trail (USFS #5543) to return to the trailhead, crossing a few diminished creeks along the way.
This was yet another good exploratory hike (9.7 miles roundtrip; 1,300 feet of elevation gain). More cows were passed enroute, all sporting little colored and numbered ear tags. We got to wondering if this couldn’t be the next big thing in forest passes and wilderness permits – pay one huge fee upfront, get your tag affixed (likely in fashion-forward colors and shapes), and never have to worry about not displaying your permit again! [Note to Forest Service: This is a joke, only a joke!]
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that there’s a whole lot more to this wilderness than just Marble Mountain and these east side trailheads. However, getting to see the “real” wilderness – like the amazing Hancock Lake area high on the North Fork of the Salmon River – requires lots of driving on small, slow roads, as well as considerably more hiking.