Lone Pine Ridge (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 07-May-2018

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon

I’d hiked the Lone Pilot Trail in 2015, not too long after it had been brushed out of old ranch roads by the Siskiyou Mountain Club. The Lone Pilot was (and still is) about the only way to visit the interior of this wilderness’ western half without having to thrash your way cross-country. I did the Lone Pilot counter-clockwise starting from the Pilot Rock Trailhead, returning along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  The last two miles of the trail before it reaches the PCT run along an old road atop Lone Pine Ridge. Maps show this old road also running down the ridge, into the Dutch Oven Creek drainage, and on east to the Skookum Creek drainage. I got curious as to how far down the ridge you could go on that old road before running into a nasty wall of Ceanothus. Today, with The LovedOne busy being a volunteer treasurer, was my chance to find out (I doubt she would have joined me for a potentially tick-infested bushwhack regardless).

The closest access to Lone Pine Ridge is where gravel Baldy Creek Road intersects the PCT and the start of the short trail to Boccard Point. The trailhead here is just a pull-off (the road itself ends emphatically a short ways west near the former site of Bean Cabin), with parking for 3-4 vehicles.

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Where Baldy Creek Road intersects the PCT

From here, the PCT heads northeast toward Hobart Bluff and southwest toward Pilot Rock. I took it southwest and soon passed the spring at the former site of Bean Cabin.

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Bean Cabin Spring

One of the best features of this section of the PCT, aside from its gentle disposition, is the near immediate gratification it provides with views across open meadows to the south and west, mainly of the towering colossus of Mount Shasta.

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Mount Shasta from the PCT

I was up here early enough in the wildflower season to enjoy the Western Trillium (Western Wake-Robin) that were fresh and crisp and creamy, having just bloomed (usually I don’t see them until late season when they’re purple and limp).

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Western Trillium (T. ovatum)

In less than 2 miles along the PCT, I came to its junction with the eastern end of the Lone Pilot Trail, with its sign still extant (the one near Pilot Rock went missing a while back).

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
The junction of the PCT and the Lone Pilot Trail (arrow points to its signage)

From its junction with the PCT, the Lone Pilot descends the prism of the old Baldy Creek Road,

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Descending the Lone Pilot

then climbs a switchback to reach a saddle on Lone Pine Ridge. This up and down was necessary to get the road around a loose cliff on the west side of Point 5403. About a mile south along the ridge, past small clumps of fritillaries,

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Scarlet Fritillary (F. recurva)

I came to where the Lone Pilot Trail drops west off the ridge into the Scotch Creek drainage. The trail signs are still extant here too.

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Where the Lone Pilot Trail leaves Lone Pine Ridge

As soon as I turned south along the ridge (on what some maps call Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Road 41-2E-10.1), it was obvious that the road was still in use as a trail. Because this is a popular hunting area, I’m guessing that hunters have kept it open (informally) over the years. I decided to see how far I could get before I either ran into too much brush or ran out of exploratory enthusiasm. After leaving the Lone Pine Trail, the old road contoured for a short while along grassy sections,

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Along Lone Pine Ridge

sections that were obviously a road,

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Along Lone Pine Ridge

and then started down more strongly at the south end of Point 5076.

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Mount Shasta from the south end of Point 5076

Below Point 5076, the road/trail alternated between grassy,

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Along Lone Pine Ridge

and rocky/open,

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Along Lone Pine Ridge

but there was no significant brush blocking it (and only one tick sighting). From an opening in the brush, I could just make out the road prism running down the west side of the ridge above Scotch Creek.

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
The old road (arrow) descends Lone Pine Ridge

There was also a view of the usual suspects to the south and west.

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Mount Shasta (S), Black Butte (b), Mount Eddy (E), Black Mountain (B)

I continued down to a saddle just below Point 4630. Beyond here, it looked like the brush was more seriously encroaching on the road. The day was also warming up some and I started thinking about the hike back up to the PCT (a hike seems less daunting if you get to hike down after reaching your objective). While I was pretty sure I could continue down the road at least to where it crosses Dutch Oven Creek, I let the brush and growing warmth “encourage” me to put that hike off for another (colder) day. So after a snack, I headed back up the ridge. There had been views of Pilot Rock from when I first gained the ridge but, going back, there was a view of the Rock and Point 4881, which I climbed during a hike of Scotch Creek in 2016.

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Pilot Rock and Point 4881

I followed the road up to where it drops east to circumvent the cliffs to the west of Point 5403 and then, just because, continued up the ridge above the cliffs.

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Pilot Rock and the cliffs on the west side of Point 5403

Along the way I came across a Brandegee’s Spring-Beauty (usually only found in California) growing on the open slopes below Point 5403,

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Brandegee’s Spring-Beauty (Claytonia saxosa) 

and enjoyed huge views to the east, south, and west. Hiking up the ridge here was not hard – and doing so took me directly to the PCT – and the views were great!

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Soda Mountain (S) and Boccard Point (B) across the Dutch Oven Creek drainage
Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Mount Shasta and the Scotch Creek drainage
Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
Pilot Rock and Mount Ashland (A)

Just past the summit of Point 5403 I connected with an unmapped piece of very old road and followed it for a short distance east to the PCT, which I then followed back to the trailhead. A good exploratory hike of Lone Pine Ridge (8.5 miles round-trip; 1,200 feet of elevation gain). Continuing on to Dutch Oven Creek from where I turned-back would have added 6 miles (round-trip) and some 1,700 feet of gain to this hike. Perhaps an adventure for another day.

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon
My track along Lone Pine Ridge

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2 thoughts on “Lone Pine Ridge (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 07-May-2018

  1. Hi! Very nice post! I love seeing these out-of-the-way places. I especially enjoyed the Trillium and Fritillary photos as I believe that neither genus grows here in Colorado. We do have Claytonia, but different species grow here so. I always enjoy seeing a new species! Thanks for sharing your descriptions of the topography, by the way.

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    1. Thanks! If it weren’t for those old roads, it would be pretty hard to explore many parts of this monument and wilderness. That Claytonia is endemic to California and it’s appearance high on Lone Pine Ridge probably marks one of its most northern extents.

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