Grouse Loop (Applegate Lake, Oregon) 02-Mar-2021

The Grouse Loop Trail #941 is another one of those short trails in our area that we’ve previously overlooked. We had planned to do it, along with the Latgawa Peninsula Loop and the Gin Lin Trail, as an “Applegate Trifecta” but got distracted. Today was forecast as the second to the last of the bluebird days granted us before the next wave of storms. So after our dental appointments this morning (these aren’t nearly as anxiety-provoking as they used to be thanks to us having found a truly excellent dentist), The LovedOne headed off to do some library volunteering and I went to see what the #941 was all about.

Although Grouse’s trailhead is signed, there’s essentially little or no parking right at it. You can park at Hart-tish Park (when it’s open, for a fee) or down the road at the Swayne Viewpoint (for free – and with a toilet). Because it was a weekday, I was able to park along the road at the Collings Mountain Trailhead and walk back from there to the start of the loop. The whole loop is just 2.8 miles (4.5 km). Going in either direction, the #941 gains gently just 600 feet (182 m) as it makes its way, past some rocky slopes, around Point 2711 on an easy to follow, well-maintained tread under the canopy of a mixed oak-madrone-pine forest.

Overall, walking this little trail was just a very peaceful experience. I particularly enjoyed ambling through the various trees on the flatter ground below Point 2711. The bonus features were some unique views of Applegate Lake and a big head-on view of the Red Buttes in the Red Buttes Wilderness to the south. I went counter-clockwise so the views happened almost right away! 🙂

Starting up under an oak canopy
A view of the remnants (arrow) of the old highway submerged by Applegate Lake
Applegate Lake with the snowy Red Buttes on the horizon
Cook and Green Butte (C), Point 6532 (6), Red Buttes (R), Kangaroo Mountain (K), Desolation Peak (D)
Looking down on French Gulch, with its low water fishing access
The Red Buttes over Applegate Lake
Continuing on up into a pine forest
Through the forest on Point 2711
Point 6532 (6) and the twin peaks of the Red Buttes (R) from the high point on the Grouse Loop
Descending through the forest above a tributary of Grouse Creek
Madrone abstract

Do this hike in conjunction with an amble on the trails on the Latgawa Peninsula and you have the makings of a refreshing 8 or 9- mile (12.8-14.4 km) day at Applegate Lake. 😀

Like its neighbor the Gin Lin Trail, the Grouse Loop as-built diverges from how it’s mapped (“P” is the Swayne Viewpoint parking lot)

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