Brown Mountain Snowshoe (Southern Oregon) 08-Feb-2016

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon

I had to wait 6 weeks for the weather to calm down a bit. The upside is that what was soft, fluffy, not-so-easy to snowshoe snow has now settled into really nice Spring snow. Brown Mountain sits on the south side of Highway 140, directly south of Mount McLoughlin. Its summit benchmark is 7,311 feet but it’s actually a bit higher than that – and it has a crater! In summer, it’s an almost unclimbable cone of rumpled, sharp lava but in winter, with a good snow cover, it’s a very fun snowshoe (or ski – we’ll get to the snowmobiles later).

The crux move of this hike was dodging the logging trucks on Highway 140 and getting over the 6-foot wall of snow/ice left by the plows. It used to be said that you could park along the highway but there are now “no parking” signs in several places and the snow plows leave little room on the shoulder.  Seems like a dodgy proposition to save $5 at the Sno-Park.

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon
Crossing Highway 140

After that, however, it was a gentle, but ever steepening, cruise on untracked snow.

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon
Early on, the climb is pretty flat

About 1.5 miles in, the summit came into view,

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon
The summit peeks above the trees

and, about 500 feet from the summit, the snowmobile tracks. My cruise up new untracked snow had blinded me to the fact that, while Mount McLoughlin across the highway is in a wilderness area, Brown Mountain is not and is thus open to snowmobiles – lots of snowmobiles. Fortunately, I was climbing on a Monday but it must have been a wild (and noisy) weekend on the slopes!

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon
Snowmobile tracks push toward the summit

What makes a particularly fun snowshoe is that after a brief trudge through the forest lower down, the views just keep getting bigger and bigger.

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon
Mount McLoughlin from the slopes of Brown Mountain

From the summit ridge, I had a great view north toward Pelican Butte and snowy Lake of the Woods.

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon
Pelican Butte (L), with open water on Upper Klamath Lake

A short hike up the ridge brought me to the actual summit, for a full frontal view of the Mountain Lakes Wilderness to the east,

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon
Mount Harriman (H); Graylock Mountain (G); Whiteface Peak (W); Mount Carmine (C); Aspen Butte (A) in the Mountain Lakes Wilderness

Mount Shasta to the south,

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon
Mount Shasta

and Mount Ashland to the west, with Brown’s crater in the foreground.

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon
Mount Ashland (A)

The numerous snowmobile tracks coming off the slightly steep part below the summit provided lots of firm stuff for my MSR Ascent snowshoes to get a grip on as I started my descent.

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon
Descending the steeper part just below the summit

A little lower, and it was back in untracked snow,

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon
The steeper part doesn’t last for very long

for the glide,

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon
Perfect untracked snow

back to the trailhead at Summit Sno-Park. A short (5.5 miles roundtrip, 2,300 feet of elevation gain) but wonderful snowshoe on a perfect – and snowmobile free – bluebird day.

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon
My track to and from the summit of Brown Mountain

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