It was just a year ago that did we our first (and only) hike on the peninsula formed in Emigrant Lake (actually a reservoir) by Songer Butte (2,693 ft / 821 m). That now seems like a lot more than a year ago. During that hike in the Before Times, we circled the peninsula but, fearing private property, didn’t try for the butte’s summit. We subsequently learned from Rich Stickle (Ashland Hiking Group) that, while the summit is on private property, the owner doesn’t mind hikers going up to it. So today we combined our previous loop with a side trip to Songer’s summit. More wet weather is expected soon, but today was all cool air, blue skies, and sunshine. 😎
A well-defined use trail runs, for 1.1 miles (1.8 km), from the trailhead along the west side of the butte to a broad saddle on the northern tip of the peninsula. Here the trail around the peninsula veers to the east (left) while a use trail to the summit goes sharply up to the west (right).
Not far up this use trail, we crossed what is obviously a ditch. While ditches like this in Southern Oregon are often associated with hydraulic mining, this one is (or was) for crop irrigation. At some point in the past it connected, via an inverted siphon (sag pipe), with the still extant Talent Irrigation District’s ditch that runs along the south end of the peninsula. Moving water (when it’s available) around (for whatever reason) has been a Southern Oregon preoccupation for many, many years.
The use trail cuts up west and then turns south along the crest of the ridge, passing over Point 2495 in the process. While we crossed several other use trails, animal trails, and an old road, the track to the summit was the only one that consistently stayed on the ridge crest. Walking along the ridge was very pleasant, with good views in several directions – the abrupt 300-foot (92 m) gain in the last 0.3 miles (0.5 km) was the only truly aerobic interval in this hike.
Once on top, we found our view to the south obscured by the sun, but views in all other directions were wide open. After taking in the views, we retraced our steps back to the saddle on the main trail.
From the saddle, we continued on the main trail along the east side of the peninsula, over the rocky prominence of Little Songer Butte, and on down to Songer Wayside on Highway 66.
From the wayside, we crossed Highway 66 and walked up a remnant section of what was Highway 66 before it was moved to accommodate the expansion of Emigrant Lake in the early 1960s. We crossed “new” Highway 66 again and then continued on yet another section (now largely unpaved) of “old” Highway 66 back to the trailhead.
All told, 5.2 miles (8.4 km) with 700 feet (213 m) of gain on an absolutely perfect day for a hike. 🙂 We hope that others treat that use trail to the summit with respect, so that the accommodating property owner isn’t pressed to deny hikers access to the great views from atop Songer Butte.RETURN TO FRONT PAGE