I first hiked the East ART, solo out-and-back from the (upper) Sterling Creek Trailhead, soon after the trail opened in 2017. In 2019, after the lower trailhead on Highway 238 was finished, I coxed The LovedOne into a one-way downhill shuttle-supported hike between the two trailheads. The excellent weather we had on both these hikes favored the huge views of the Applegate Valley and the surrounding peaks you get from the upper half of this trail. When today was forecast to be cold (at least at first), clear, and sunny, we decided to reprise my first hike here, only this time out-and-back from the lower trailhead.

The day turned out to be just as forecast – full bluebird with clear skies, a crisp breeze, and lots of sunshine. 😎 We were the only car in the lower lot when we started up and didn’t encounter other hikers until we were a mile from the upper trailhead. Then we passed or were passed by more than a dozen.

It was a cold start in the shade
The hike warmed nicely once we got up into the sunshine
Snowy Grayback Mountain and Big Sugarloaf Peak from the top of the ridge
The snowy Red Buttes from the ridge
The trail contours along the ridge
It got cold again when the trail traversed a shady grove of pines
Looking south toward the Siskiyou Crest
The trail (thin line on slope) offers continuous views from along the ridge for some 3 miles (4.8 km)
Nearing the upper trailhead

All of the hikers we’d passed on the way up turned around within 2 miles (3.2 km) or so of the upper trailhead, leaving the descent to us until we were about a mile from the lower trailhead. Then we passed more than a dozen hikers on their way up.

Heading back
Through a colonnade of oaks
The lone pine
Looking west toward Kerby Peak
Along the top of the ridge
Starting down, with Mount Isabelle (arrow) in the distance
Not far from the lower trailhead

The lower lot was full when we got back. It’s easy to see why the East ART has quickly become one of the most popular trails around here, what with its well-designed tread, great views, and easy access to those views from the upper trailhead. Ours was a great {10.1 mile (16.3 km), 1,300 feet (396 m) of gain} hike on a perfect day for such a thing. We went home to spend quality time with our new rescue kitty (Sofie). Actually it was so Sofie could train us, her new minions, to meet her exacting requirements. Much meowing ensued. 😀

Sofie
Our route along the East ART (“B” is the bench along the trail, “P” is the upper parking lot
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