Green Springs Mountain (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 06-Jan-2018

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon

By all rights, the easy but scenic Green Springs Mountain Loop Trail, which is now within the expanded Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, should be under snow. But it’s not. Which meant that I could include it as part of a bike-assisted dirt hike from Green Springs Summit on Highway 66 to East Hyatt Lake Road near Hyatt Lake. The hardest part of this hike was convincing myself to leave the house into a cold, zero-visibility fog secure in the perhaps foolish belief that there was sunlight up there somewhere. The dark and fog were too much for The LovedOne, who buried yet more deeply under the covers and mumbled something about don’t disturb the cat on your way out. Not that the cat as evidenced any interest in going hiking, ever. Sigh.

From Green Springs Summit, I drove up Old Hyatt Prairie Road to where the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses it very near Little Hyatt Lake. I had climbed out of the fog shortly before reaching the summit and blue sky was actually visible here and there. But the lake was still frozen and shrouded in mists.

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
An early, cold morning at Little Hyatt Lake

After hiding the bike at an undisclosed location near the PCT, I drove back to Highway 66, parked the truck where the PCT crosses it, and started hiking north on the snowless PCT under an increasingly blue sky.

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
Along the Pacific Crest Trail

The PCT crosses Old Hyatt Prairie Road in about 1.4 miles, then crosses Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Road 39-3E-32 in another 0.4 miles. Shortly after that, I came to a signed trail junction. The trail to the right (north) is the Green Springs Mountain Loop Connector Trail, while the one to the left (south) is the north-bound PCT going around the west side of Green Springs Mountain. When the PCT followed the path of the connector trail, it was viewless. Re-routing the PCT out west around the mountain was meant to inject some views into the “green tunnel” that some thru-hikers disparage. I went left, and after some more time in the trees, came to the first big meadow, only to discover that clouds were going to have their opaque way with my views.

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
Clouds swirl over the PCT on the west side of the mountain
Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
The PCT marches toward the mists

After the first meadow came a stretch of forest,

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
Once more into the trees…

and then another big meadow beset by clouds. Having seen the Rogue Valley from above more than a few times, I was actually enjoying the texture and depth that the ever-changing cloud formations brought to the scene.

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
Another meadow and more clouds
Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
Big clouds
Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
Clouds noir

Then I left that meadow,

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
Leaving the clouds behind

went back into some more forest, passed the signed junction with the other end of the connector trail (the old route of the PCT),

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
A forest richly adorned with moss and lichen

and came out on another meadow with – wait for it – more clouds!

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
Another meadow and more clouds

After that, the PCT started swinging east, crossing back over BLM Road 39-3E-32, through a meadow (marked with cairns) that drains into the Right Fork of Sampson Creek,

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
A meadow that is part of the Sampson Creek drainage

then undulating over a couple of broad ridges before crossing a stout bridge over Keene Creek right below Little Hyatt Lake’s dam, and coming to Old Hyatt Prairie Road.

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
The old dam at Little Hyatt Lake

This dam was constructed in 1923 for the Talent Irrigation District. At that time, water was diverted to the Rogue Basin for irrigation (the PCT actually crosses the old irrigation canal just before it reaches the bridge). When the Bureau of Reclamation built Keene Creek Reservoir and the Green Springs Hydroelectric Plant downstream from Little Hyatt Reservoir in the 1950s, Little Hyatt’s use for irrigation purposes came to an end. The dam is showing its age and, in 2009, the BLM proposed its removal for safety reasons. Obviously, they still have some work to do on that.

Once safely past the dam, I checked my bike hide, and then continued north on the PCT toward Hyatt Lake. The PCT climbs here, giving me a nice view out over one of the arms of Hyatt Meadow.

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
A side branch of Hyatt Meadow

After its climb, the PCT continues ascending very gently through the forest,

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
Along the PCT

under some high tension lines (likely conveying power to the server farm that hosts this blog),

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
Keeping those server farms serving

to a meeting with East Hyatt Lake Road near Hyatt Lake. The most snow I saw on this whole hike was the mound of it piled at the entrance to the (closed) lakeside campground.

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
Hyatt Lake

I turned around, followed the PCT back down to my bike, got on it, and pedeled back down Old Hyatt Prairie Road, getting a good view of Hyatt Meadow proper along the way.

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
Hyatt Meadow

In the end, 8.5 mellow miles on the PCT (with 1,300 feet of elevation gain) and 2.8 miles of biking on a wet, muddy road. But nice. The weather cooperated, the clouds provided texture, and I had the trail (almost) all to myself. But not enough snow along the trail to cool a cocktail. I suppose there’s still a chance for the Great Blizzard of ’18. I guess we’ll see…

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon
My hiking track (red), bike ride back (black), and the old PCT (now a connector trail) (blue)

HOME


2 thoughts on “Green Springs Mountain (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 06-Jan-2018

Comments are closed.