Siskiyou Peak (Mt. Ashland, Oregon) 03-Jul-2018

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon

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 and scenic stretch of the PCT, with big views to the south starting almost immediately.  It’s only 9 miles (and 1,400 feet of elevation) if you start from where the PCT crosses Forest Road (FR) 40S15 (but parking is limited).  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.  I did this hike solo a year ago June and thought then that The LovedOne would really like it too. So on this day of bluebird perfect hiking weather, we went up there for the views and to give her much improved knee a bit of a workout.

We parked on FR 40S15 and started south (actually west) on the PCT through summer’s luxuriant growth,

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
Starting out through a riot of vegetation

under the watchful eye of “The Ball” – which knows all and sees all (cue thermion music) – our running joke for the day. The Ball, with all due respect to paranoid delusions, conspiracy fantasies, Grade-C SciFi movies, and lame spy novels, is really just a NEXRAD radar antenna; one that doesn’t see anything except conditions in the atmosphere.

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
The NEXRAD antenna above a sea of green

As noted before, one of the big pluses of this particular hike is that you get to big southerly views right away – at least of Mount Shasta; more if there’s not too much haze or smoke or clouds. Today was particularly clear.

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
Mount Shasta (s), Black Butte (b), and Mount Eddy (e) to the south

After less than a mile, we turned a ridge into the huge meadow at the head of the Grouse Creek drainage. Various wildflowers were already out but the highlights here were sightings of a grouse with chicks, bluebirds, green-tailed towhees (with their eye-catching chestnut crowns), and a strickingly deep azure Lazuli bunting (a summer visitor).

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
The meadow at the head of Grouse Creek
Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
Mount Shasta from the meadow at the head of Grouse Creek

We kept on to where the PCT crosses FR 40S30, made a brief side trip to find a geocache near Grouse Gap, then continued south on the PCT,

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
Continuing south on the PCT

as it climbed up and over the ridge south of McDonald Peak into the headwaters of the West Fork of Grouse Creek. This is the only piece of meaningful climbing on this stretch of the PCT.

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
Climbing up to the ridge

At the top, we found two coolers and two lawn chairs waiting to be filled and staffed by PCT Trail Angels. Our own Gatorade had to suffice for our trail magic on this day. From here we had a view of Siskiyou Peak out across the basin at the head of the West Fork.

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
Siskiyou Peak (arrow) comes in to view
Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
Mount Shasta above the West Fork drainage

We crossed the sandy expanse at the top of the drainage,

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
Almost to the peak

and left the PCT at a point directly north of the peak to follow a pretty good use trail from there right to the summit.

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
Taking the use trail to the top
Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
The LovedOne surveys Mount Shasta from the summit of Siskiyou Peak
Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
The all-seeing Ball and a snowless Mount McLoughlin (m) were visible to the south

We had a snack and some hydration, and then started back to the PCT, stopping to bag another geocache on the way.

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
Back to the PCT after logging another geocache

Then it was north (actually east) along the PCT,

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
The Ball is always watching…

past a meadow with both a view and a lot of foraging hummingbirds,

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
A Meadow with a View

where The Ball was not the only entity keeping watch as we hiked along.

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
Here’s looking at you, kid…

And thus on through the lush meadows at Grouse Gap, with lots of foraging bumblebees,

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
The meadow at Grouse Gap

past yet another view of Mount Shasta,

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
Mount Shasta (again)

around a scary tree,

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
First the all-seeing Ball and now a tree monster…

to our truck parked on FR 40S15. A very, very nice hike – gentle walking with views, meadows, wildflowers, and birds – easily one of our top favorites (and a fun snowshoe too during those winters when we’re gifted with some snow). Although some of the cornlily patches are already fading, it looks like the meadows here got enough water last winter to keep the wildflower displays running through August.  Big Red Mountain and McDonald Peak are also worthy PCT-accessible hiking goals along this stretch of the Siskiyou Crest.

 

Siskiyou Peak Mount Ashland Oregon
Our hike to Siskiyou Peak, with diversions for geocaches

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2 thoughts on “Siskiyou Peak (Mt. Ashland, Oregon) 03-Jul-2018

  1. Nice! We arrived in that area the next day but smoke from the Pawnee and Yolo County Fires had rolled in, so all those crystal clear skies were gone. Then the Klamathon Fire started the day after that, so we packed up and left early. Fire season sure started early this year!

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    1. Well, it’s been fire season down here for about a month, which makes the human-started Klamathon Fire all the more inexcusable. Not unlike the Eagle Creek fire. Sorry you missed the clear skies. Maybe you can give it another try in early Fall?

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