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! 😀
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.