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,
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.
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.
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).
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,
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.
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.
We crossed the sandy expanse at the top of the drainage,
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.
We had a snack and some hydration, and then started back to the PCT, stopping to bag another geocache on the way.
Then it was north (actually east) along the PCT,
past a meadow with both a view and a lot of foraging hummingbirds,
where The Ball was not the only entity keeping watch as we hiked along.
And thus on through the lush meadows at Grouse Gap, with lots of foraging bumblebees,
past yet another view of Mount Shasta,
around a scary tree,
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.