The desire to test a new pack (Zpacks Nero), a tender knee, a break in our fickle Spring weather, and the need for some outdoors put us on a short hike to one of the many odd little destinations tucked away in Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon (4th Edition). In this instance it was to a viewpoint he calls Rhyolite Ridge, set on the side of Point 5401 just west of Pilot Rock off the Lone Pilot Trail. We could have made this a ridiculously short hike by starting at the Pilot Rock Trailhead but instead made it slightly longer by starting where the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses Pilot Rock Road (BLM Road 40-2E-33).
After parking, we followed the PCT south through snow-free meadows,
across open areas,
past a view of Pilot Rock, whose north face was slathered with the only snow and ice in the area,
to a four-way junction of the PCT, the Lone Pilot Trail, and the trail coming up from the Pilot Rock Trailhead.
Then it was south on the Lone Pilot Trail,
for only a few hundred feet to a point where a very faint old road (now shown as a trail on the USFS map) goes straight upslope to the west. Directly across from here are two ponds full of exuberantly chorusing frogs and a terrific view of the west side of Pilot Rock.
The view from the ridge is almost as good as the one from Boccard Point, but with less driving and hiking. The weather being what it is, only the lower slopes of Mount Shasta were visible, but we could see Black Mountain, Black Butte, and Mount Eddy.
We then followed the old road / trail north along the west side of Point 5401.
As we swung around the north side of the point, we could see Wagner Butte with a light dusting of fresh snow from yesterday’s storm,
and Mount Ashland enveloped in clouds.
After that, the trail went though a bit of forest,
before we junctioned with the PCT on the north side of Point 5401. The trail where this junction occurs is very faint and you’d most likely not notice it if you weren’t aware of its existence. There’s little snow in this area and the ground is warming up, but only a few wildflowers are out yet. The showiest of these are the Yellow Bells, whose bright yellow petals pop out visually from the brown ground.
A short (3.8 miles round-trip; 760 feet of elevation gain), but comforting, hike on a mellow piece of the PCT, with some good views to the west and south. The knee held and the new pack seems to work. There should be a lot of wildflowers up here within the next month.