The Elk Creek Trail (USFS #1230) is an odd little trail in that it has a website and a trailhead sign but does not appear on any USGS or USFS maps. In reality, it’s a somewhat worn, moderately steep, but easy to follow trail that climbs from Forest Road (FR) 079 along Elk Creek through heavy woods to a junction with the Boundary Trail (USFS #1207) on the Siskiyou Crest. We first learned of it from Roether’s 2006 Williams Area Trail Guide (Hike #3) and have used it as a shortcut for a hike of Mount Elijah (post). Both that guide, and the Forest Service website, intimate that you can also use it to reach Grayback Mountain (post), some three miles to the north. So we decided to go see about that for ourselves and also check the condition of the Boundary Trail along the way.
Siskiyou Peak rises just south of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) about 3 miles west of the Mount Ashland Ski Area. Reaching it involves an easy hike on a particularly gentle stretch of the PCT, with big views to the south starting almost immediately. It’s 9 miles if you start from the ski area parking lot; 12 miles starting from where the PCT crosses the Mount Ashland Road. With all of it being over 6,500 feet, it’s a refreshing option on days when valley temperatures approach those of a blue star. Wildflower season also runs later up here and a variety of blossoms (and bumblebees) are out well into August. Today I did the 9-mile option just for a good leg-stretch and the views – and also to marvel at the numerous chipmunks scampering along, around, and across the trail. There was no overt begging or my sack of trail food wouldn’t have lasted as far as the summit!
Oregon’s Rogue River flows some 215 miles from its headwaters at Boundary Springs within Crater Lake National Park to the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach, Oregon. Although not as large as the Columbia or the Willamette, it is nonetheless one of Oregon’s iconic rivers. It’s been in our hearts for years but only recently have we had the time to give it the attention it deserves. Between 2012 and 2016, we hiked (in sections) the entire Upper Rogue River Trail (USFS #1034) as it roughly parallels the river from near Boundary Springs to Prospect, Oregon. In 2015, we backpacked the famous Rogue River Trail (USFS #1160) from Grave Creek to Foster Bar (post) and also did a rafting day trip from Robertson Bridge to Grave Creek. In 2016, we bolstered the local economy again with a multi-day rafting trip on the Wild and Scenic Rogue from Grave Creek to Foster Bar (post). After attending a presentation earlier this year by Gabriel Howe of the Siskiyou Mountain Club on their 2015 restoration of the Wild Rogue Loop, we knew we had to hike it. With lingering snow keeping us from the High Cascades and parts of the Siskiyou Crest, now seemed like just the time to do this lower-altitude loop.
The trail up Kerby Peak from the White Creek Trailhead is steep and challenging but well graded and rewards your efforts with wonderful views of the Illinois Valley, the Siskiyou Crest, and beyond. We’ve hiked it before (post) and even tried (unsuccessfully) to summit it in winter (post). But, while contemplating the map for another hike of Kerby, I saw a small lake – Rabbit Lake – just below the ridge running south from the peak. Lakes are a rarity in the Siskiyous so checking-it out quickly took precedence over yet another hike of Kerby. I found a description of the use trail to Rabbit on the Highway 199 website and the short out-and-back hike discussed there seemed ideal for what was going to be (finally) a sizzling hot day in Southern Oregon.
The Sterling Mine Ditch Trail – despite its somewhat industrial name – is one of the most popular and most publicized trails in Southern Oregon. It’s open year-round, is accessible to hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians, and features wildflowers in the Spring and colorful foliage in the Fall. The original 26 mile long “ditch” was constructed by hand in 1877 to convey water from the Little Applegate River to a huge hydraulic mine in the upper reaches of the Sterling Creek drainage. The mine and the town it spawned (Sterlingville) are now gone but the ditch remains. Thanks to the efforts of the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association (SUTA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), 18 miles of the ditch have been reclaimed as a valuable recreational resource. Since 2013, we have been able to hike (more than once) all parts of the trail with one exception: the segment between the Deming Gulch and Grub Gulch Trailheads. Yesterday, I (the LovedOne being too consumed by a backlog of fiber and gardening projects to join me) set out to remedy this omission.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently let us know that they’ve repaired as much of this damage as possible and are taking steps to (hopefully) prevent it from happening again.
The Table Rocks – both Lower and Upper – have been favorite year-round short hike destinations for us ever since we moved south. One of the many pleasures of these hikes is to observe the seasonal round of the vernal pools that are unique to these locations. These pools are a rare habitat that supports a Federally-listed threatened species of fairy shrimp and a state-threatened plant called the dwarf wooly meadowfoam, a flowering plant currently, and historically, only known to exist around the edges of these pools. The existence of these rare species and their habitat is what caused the Table Rocks to be designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Our second to last day on the North Shore suffered less than optimal weather, necessitating excessive sitting around, so we decided to do a longer, more involved hike on our last day to compensate for such sloth. The rest of the family decided that sloth, or perhaps golf (?), worked better for them and that we were on our own for this romp in the woods. After consulting Andrew Slade’s Hiking the North Shoreguidebook (2014 edition), we settled on the Tettegouche Lakes Loop (his Hike #24) because it seemed to offer some wide views interspersed with close-ups of lakes. At 10 miles of hiking and 900 feet of elevation gain (depending on how you measure it), plus a scramble up the “Drainpipe,” it seemed like a great way to further fritter away our golden years.