Slide Ridge (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 27-Nov-2015

Slide Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon

Our close proximity to the Soda Mountain Wilderness has made it one of our favorites, despite some of the challenges associated with exploring its largely trailess interior. Aside from short trails to Pilot Rock and Boccard Point, only the Lone Pine Trail (actually an old road) makes a major foray into the western side of the wilderness.  If, however, you’re wise enough to go when cold weather inhibits the ticks, rattlesnakes, and poison oak yearning to make your aquaintance and careful about avoiding thickets of buckbrush, the terrain is open enough to allow for some cross-country exploring.  It was with this in mind that got me out to hike some old roads on Slide Ridge, ones that I might use to make a loop with the Lone Pilot.

I started from the Pilot Rock Trailhead and went up from there to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). It was shaping-up to be a low-snow year and boots alone were more than adequate for me to make my way through the 6 to 8 inches of snow on the trail. After crossing the PCT, I followed the Lone Pilot Trail south into the big meadow below the west side of Pilot Rock.

Slide Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
A snowy meadow to the west of Pilot Rock

Near the end of this meadow, another old road goes off to the east, across the meadow and into the trees on the other side. {The track of this old road through the meadow has since been completely decommissioned and is now easy to miss.} I followed the old road into the forest and along to where it comes out on to an open, rocky promontory.

Slide Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Pilot Rock from the promontory along the old road
Slide Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Looking west from the promontory

The old road then goes back into,

Slide Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Looking east – Slide Ridge in the distance

and through, a corridor of trees. The road was largely free of obstructions and fairly easy walking. {Many of these trees have since fallen across the road, making it an ordeal to follow it.}

Slide Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
The old road passes through a corridor of trees.

I followed the old road to where it ended at a wide spot near the spring at the head of the West Fork of Hutton Creek – one of the two perennial water sources for the Lone Pilot Trail. From here, it was cross-country down the Hutton Creek drainage – not hard but steep enough and loose enough to require cautious walking. This brought me down to where the the Lone Pilot crosses Hutton Creek. From here, I went west on the Lone Pilot, which was completely snow-free on these south-facing slopes.

Slide Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Going back along the Lone Pilot
Slide Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Pilot Rock from the Lone Pilot

A short hike (8.7 miles; 1,700 feet of elevation gain) to explore some more old roads and do a bit of hiking cross-country. Interesting but probably not enough so to justify another visit {As noted, some of these roads have either been decommissioned or have become clogged with fallen trees. There are apparently no plans to incorporate them into any part of a trail system.}

Slide Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
My track along some old roads and cross-country

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