As the Northern Hemisphere enters its inevitable transition from Summer to Winter, the usually mellow weather here in Southern Oregon becomes conflicted, turbulent, truculent, and garrulous. Weather fronts sweeping in off the Pacific Ocean interact with our variously oriented and variously elevated mountain ranges to make local weather predictions tricky at best. Deep conversations about white-outs and snowshoes once again enter the conversation and sneaking in just one more summer-like hike becomes a crap shoot. But when all the different weather prognosticators seemed to agree that the remainder of this Thanksgiving Week was going to be locally fraught with storms, rain, and snow, we decided to try for that one last snowshoe-free hike of the season. With the weather being difficult, we weren’t going to go all in for a big hike and so cast around for something short and close but (maybe) with a view. After consulting the oracles, we settled on Boccard Point from a new (for us) trailhead.
We had last been to Boccard Point on the south side of the Soda Mountain Wilderness in January 2015 (a very low-snow year) and remembered it as an easy hike to a great view. Then we discovered an alternative approach – more driving, less hiking – suggested by the Siskiyou Mountain Club whose crews had, in 2014, cut a primitive trail bench into an old road from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) out almost to the Point. To reach this trailhead, we drove east from Ashland, Oregon for about 8 miles on State Highway 66, past Emigrant Lake, to a right turn on to gravel Buckhorn Springs Road. About 2 miles from Highway 66, we veered up and left on to Tyler Creek Road, then, after about 6.5 miles, turned right (south) on to Baldy Creek Road, and followed it to where, at 10.3 miles, a cut on the left gave us access to a small parking lot (no amenities) and the PCT. All of the roads from Highway 66 to here are gravel but easily passable in a carefully driven passenger car.
It was cloudy, overcast, and spitting rain as we drove up to the trailhead at 5,400 feet. Once we were there, it started snowing and The LovedOne put on her “brave smile” in anticipation of yet another meteorologically adventurous hike.
The PCT is marked with brown wands but the Boccard Point trail is just a use trail in the grass. But, even with a dusting of snow, it was very evident and easy to follow. Of course, it being on a wide, old roadbed sliced through the forest helped a lot with route finding.
As we climbed up to around 5,500 feet, the snow got deeper and the trail became just a divot in the snow.
After about 1.5 miles, the trail crests on a saddle just south of Point 5900,
goes through a short stretch of forest, and comes out on to an open, rocky ridge. This day, there was little in the way of a view,
except for some interesting lichens under one of the large rocks.
But back during our first visit on that clear and snow-free day in January 2015, the Point was much more obvious.
On this day, the Point was sporting about 12 inches of fresh snow (with more to come),
and the view was – how to say this – somewhat “limited.”
But if you do go out to the Point on a clear day, the view to the south is wonderful, particularly if you’re fascinated by Mount Shasta.
It was foggy, cold, and a little windy on the Point – not really snack or lunch weather – so a brave retreat to the Caldera Brewery in Ashland seemed in order. But we knew in our heart of hearts that as soon as we started back, we would be taunted and scourged with sunbreaks and sucker holes. And so it was…
A short, easy hike (4 miles round-trip; 600 of elevation gain) to what, in clear weather, is a great viewpoint. Today, it was mostly about some exercise and getting in one more before the real snow arrives. This trailhead is a good option if you want to see the Soda Mountain Wilderness but don’t have time for a big hike (and don’t mind driving on gravel roads). In January 2015, we’d parked where the PCT crosses the Soda Mountain access road and hiked to the Point from there, adding in a visit to Litte Pilot Peak, and a climb up Soda Mountain for extra fun. We prefer this longer option, weather and time permitting.