London Peak Wolf Creek Oregon

This is another one of those less glamourous, but interesting, hikes to be found in the back of Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon (Hike #173 on Page 262 of the 4th Edition). The climb from the lower trailhead to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) London Peak Scenic Overlook, though steep, is also short, so we paired it with a long-delayed visit to the historic Wolf Creek Inn located in the hamlet of Wolf Creek at the base of the peak.

The Inn is the oldest continuously operated hotel in the Pacific Northwest and, as an important stop on the 16-day (!) stagecoach journey from San Francisco to Portland, housed practically every important person found in the Northwest during Oregon’s early history. In the 1930s, the inn became a refuge for actors seeking an escape from demanding Hollywood studios. Clark Gable was a good friend of the innkeeper and stopped by several times while fishing the nearby Rogue River. Other visitors included Carole Lombard and Orson Wells.  The peak is named after the American author Jack London who completed his novel Valley of the Moon (1913) while staying at the Inn.

There are two ways to access the scenic overlook: from an upper trailhead via a short, barrier-free trail or from the lower trailhead in Wolf Creek Park ($5 day use parking fee) via a longer, steeper trail (3.4 miles round-trip; 1,500 feet of elevation gain). We started from the park and found the trail directly across Wolf Creek from the pit toilets in the picnic area. We had to wade the creek as there’s no bridge. On the other side, we found the trail going past a disc golf target (an elevated metal basket) and then starting up the slope. About 500 feet up the slope, we came to two hand-made signs that point toward a spring and the trail to the summit. We went right and up from here. From here on, the trail was easy to follow (but obviously not used a lot), as it went up and up through many switchbacks. We did our best to avoid the low-growing poison oak along parts of the trail and had to remove (and summarily execute) only one minimally attached tick.

London Peak Wolf Creek Oregon
Wolf Creek: shallow but wet
After crossing the creek, the trail starts up just to the right of a disc golf “hole”
Up through a lush overstory of madrones and pines
The climb continues…
The view of Wolf Creek and Interstate-5 from the overlook
Looking west from near the overlook; Wolf Creek is in the valley on the right
Clouds spill over from the Umpqua River Basin to the north

From the overlook we got a 180º view of the mountains to the north and northeast, of Interstate-5, and of the community of Wolf Creek (including the Inn) nearly 2,000 feet below. We also found a spot where we could look west toward Malone Peak, Sugar Loaf, and Hungry Hill, and envision Wolf Creek flowing toward its confluence with Grave Creek and, ultimately, the Rogue River.  After that, we headed back for a simple but tasty lunch at the inn.

Going down through stands of old, old trees
The BLM has placed interpretive signs along the trail
One last wade…
…and then lunch at the Inn
Our track (red) from the lower trailhead; purple track is the easier alternative from the upper trailhead