Bolt Mountain (Southwest Oregon) 24-Nov-2020

Bolt Mountain (2,241 ft / 683 m) pops-up just southwest of Grants Pass, Oregon. Access to it is managed jointly by Josephine Country Parks ($5/day parking fee) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It’s a low-altitude hike (6.6 miles (10.3 km); with 1,270 feet (387 m) of gain) that we typically save for early winter when the weather is dubious and there’s not yet enough recreational snow at higher altitudes. There are supposedly good views from its summit. But we have yet to coordinate our visits with clear days. Thus we have gotten some excellent views of dreary grayness. Today’s hike up Bolt was no exception. A good hike to murky views. Of course, as we were driving home the clouds parted and sunlight burst forth. Oh, the irony! Oh! Oh! 🙄

The trail to the summit from the upper parking lot at the park seemed straightforward on our first visit four years ago. Since then, however, a nature trail has been added at an unsigned junction on the trail to the top.

Where the paths diverge – if you start passing red-colored posts with white numbers >6, you’re on the nature trail

So we wandered off unintentionally along the nature trail as far as the first bench before coming to our senses and doubling back to the “main” trail. After that it was a gradual climb up through a mixture of madrones, oaks, Ponderosa pines, and Western cedars to the summit.

Up under the madrones
No wildflowers now, just a few mushrooms
Through madrones and pines
And under some oaks that will hold last year’s leaves until Spring

About 1.8 miles (2.9 km) from the parking lot, the main trail junctions with a less used trail coming in from Stringer Gap to the east. There’s no sign at the junction but there is one just a ways down the gap trail.

The little sign indicating the Stringer Gap Trail
On up under a spreading madrone
More madrones
Not a madrone
Madrones and Ponderosas just below the summit
The view south from the summit
Going back past moss gardens, madrones, and cedars
A trifecta of lichen
Once more through the madrones
Passing around a meadow on the way out

One of these days we’ll be sufficiently coordinated to reach the summit of Bolt Mountain on a clear, bright, sunny day when we can see for miles and miles in every direction. 😎 One of these days…

Our path to the summit, including the nature trail (N)

Although it costs $5 to park at the hatchery, the full-time host there keeps watch over things, like your car. Plus you can use the restrooms. If you’d rather not part with $5, you can reach Bolt Mountain from Stringer Gap. The parking there is free in a dirt pull-out on the side of Stringer Gap Road. But there’s no toilet and we think the main trail is more interesting.

The main trail (black) and the Stringer Gap Trail (purple).
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