Stein Butte Loop (Southwest Oregon) 28-Dec-2020

Since 2014, with one notable exception, a hike up Stein Butte at the south end of Applegate Lake has been our last full hike of the year. This year – despite its litany of flaws – was no exception. We were (very) remotely tempted to do this hike during one of the storms predicted to arrive before New Years Day. You know, so our last hike of 2020 would be just as pleasant as the rest of 2020 has been. 😦

But, no, we’re looking forward now to a better and brighter 2021. So we did this hike on a cold but otherwise full bluebird day filled with golden sunshine 😎 , little snow, and big views. We made it a loop (which we last did in 2015) by ascending the Stein Butte Trail and descending the New London Trail, with a walk back on Forest Road 1050 through Joe Bar (which is in California). This 10 mile (16 km), 2,400 feet (732 m) of gain hike proved to be exceptional! It was a fitting way to kick 2020’s butt while looking ahead to better times in 2021! 😀

It was a cold start
Up the Stein Butte Trail
First view of the Red Buttes from the crest of Elliott Ridge
Upper Applegate Valley (A), Baldy Peak (B), and Little Grayback Mountain (L) from Elliott Ridge
A mask in name only
The snowy Siskiyou Crest with the trail (T) along Elliott Ridge
The last climb to the summit
On the butte
Snowy Grayback Mountain (L) and Big Sugraloaf Peak (R) from the foundation of the old fire lookout
The Red Buttes (L) and the Siskiyou Crest from Stein Butte
Steve Peak (S), Grayback Mountain (G), Big Sugarloaf Peak (B), and the dam at Applegate Lake (A) from Stein Butte
Mount McLoughlin (arrow), Dutchman Peak (D), and Observation Peak (O) from Stein Butte

The Stein Butte Trail is maintained by the local Motorcycle Riders Association (MRA) and is in excellent condition as far as the butte. It seemed less used from there down to its junction with the New London Trail but was still in good condition. It even managed to host a short patch of snow – our only snow for the day. The New London Trail is narrow in spots but was clear and easy to follow.

The only snow we crossed all day
Down the New London Trail
A piece of the telephone line (arrow) that used to run between the fire lookout on Stein Butte and the Hutton Guard Station on Elliott Creek
Part of our loop was through California – the border used to be marked with a sign, which now seems to be gone (this photo is from October 2015)
On the New London Trail
One of the adits at the New London Mine (c1900-1910)
The sun set below the ridge as we walked back and it quickly got cold again
Our Stein Butte ~ New London Loop (“M” is the site of the New London Mine adits)

Good-by 2020! Good-bye you sorry poop-fest! You will not be missed!



7 thoughts on “Stein Butte Loop (Southwest Oregon) 28-Dec-2020

Add yours

  1. Happy New Year to you as well and best wishes for a normal 2021

    Enjoyed your 2020 posts and photos, look forward to more to come in the New Year


  2. Everyone – including us – is looking forward to better – dare I say “normal” – times in 2021. With all these expectations building, I hope 2021 doesn’t suffer from performance anxiety. 🙄


  3. Looks like it was a great day for hiking and a good way to end 2020. Here’s to a better 2021!


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