Snow on the Mountain (Rogue River) 30-Dec-2021

For six of the last seven years, we’ve made a climb of Stein Butte our last hike of the year (in 2015 we hiked Squaw Butte instead – which became a snow slog of unexpectedly epic proportions πŸ™„). So we planned to revisit Stein again this year. But mighty winter storms got here first, icing the roads and dumping much, much snow almost everywhere. Our hospitals are (again) packed with plague victims πŸ˜₯ – so it’s not a good time to have an accident on slick roads. And all the snow made us think that an attempt on Stein would be a repeat of our tribulations on Squaw in 2015. Plus (Wait, there’s more!) another big storm was on its way. So we turned our thoughts to a lower and closer hike.

Those thoughts – plus the little voices in our heads – brought us to Mountain of the Rogue (MOTR) near Rogue River, Oregon. Although primarily a mountain biking venue, it has a few good trails that are also open to hikers. Its high point – Tin Pan Peak – is a good walk (7 miles (11.2 km) round trip) and climb (1,300 feet (396 m)) from the parking lot. And at only 2,394 feet (730 m), just how much snow could there be on these trails? Those little voices said “Not much” but they were wrong, as they often are (except for that Area 51 thing; but I digress).

So we motored to MOTR on clear, ice-free roads, parked in its nice, paved parking lot and started up the RAT Pack Trail, a mixed-use trail that started out free of snow. This area was burned over by the 2021 North River Fire. Although most trees and shrubs were charred husks, we also saw signs of regrowth from the deep roots that had been spared by the flames. πŸ™‚

Starting up the RAT Pack Trail, with Tin Pan Peak in the distance
A Turkey Tail fungus carbonized by the 2021 North River Fire

After 600 feet (182 m) of climbing, we left the RAT Pack Trail for the Sasquatch Trail, another mixed use trail. Snow started to encroach on the trail here and would just get deeper and deeper as we climbed higher and higher.

On the Sasquatch Trail – its switchbacks on the slope ahead are outlined with snow
Snow starts to crowd the Sasquatch
Oak leaf on snow
Through snow and clouds on the Sasquatch Trail
The last stand before the saddle

We followed the Sasquatch Trail to its junction with the RAT Pack Trail and continued on that up to the saddle and a junction with the Easy Street Trail (an old road). Easy Street was covered with a foot (30 cm) or more of fresh powder snow. The boot prints and mountain bike track we had been following stopped here, so we plowed on, breaking our own trail. Not as tough as the 2015 hike but way more snow than we’d expected at such a low altitude.

On Easy Street πŸ€”

We followed Easy Street up to its junction with the Arm Bar and Bob & Weave Trails. From here, we kicked steps directly up the ridge to intersect the Darkside Trail just short of the summit. Kicking steps on Tin Pan Peak? Yes, there is a LOT of snow up here. We plowed up Darkside and around to the summit.

On the Darkside
View to the south from the Darkside
On to the summit
On Tin Pan Peak
That’s almost two feet (60 cm) of snow on the summit hut! 😲
To the west: Grants Pass (arrow) and the City of Rogue River (R)
The brave hiker smile is affixed for the descent

Well, we’d gotten up here, now we had to get back down. To minimize snow slogging, we got a little creative. We went down the Darkside to its junction with the Arm Bar, followed that to its first switchback, dropped down to the Bob & Weave, took that to its crossing of the Darkside and got on that trail for the trip back to the RAT Pack Trail. Arm Bar and Bob & Weave are bike-only trails, which, except for all this snow, we would never hike on. But we figured that we’d be unlikely to encounter even the fattest fat tire bikes during the short time we’d be on these trails, so we went for it.

Descending the Darkside
It was not a particularly warm day
On the Darkside toward the saddle

We eventually got back to below the saddle and started down the RAT Pack Trail, which, fortunately, got less and less snowy as we descended.

Down the RAT Pack
Down the Rat Pack
We finally get below the snow…
And cruise on back to the parking lot πŸ˜ƒ
Our convoluted path to and from Tin Pan Peak

And so our hiking for 2021 came to an end. It wasn’t the end-of-the-year hike we’d planned for or expected, but a pretty good one nonetheless. But then the last two years have been about planning or hoping to do one thing but having to do something else or nothing at all. In the grand scheme of things, having to change our hiking plans is just no big deal – we’ll get back to Stine Butte soon enough. The blessings are that we still have the ability to hike and the scenery in which to do it. 😁


Here’s hoping we all get a better deal in 2022!


4 thoughts on “Snow on the Mountain (Rogue River) 30-Dec-2021

  1. Thank you! πŸ˜ƒ Now that you point it out, our track does sort of look like some creature devouring Tin Pan Peak. 😲 But it’s nonetheless a good place (except in the summer) for a sturdy hike.


  2. The ability to hike and beautiful places to explore…those are very good blessings, indeed. Have you noticed your hiking trail looks like a big monster/dragon? But in your photos it was very beautiful. πŸ™‚ I like your wish for a better deal in 2022 for us all!


  3. I’m not sure about Star Wars fans on bicycles but I think it’s Darkside just because it’s on the perpetually shady, cooler side of Tin Pan. Although the Rogue River corridor has been touched by fire in recent years (Blossom Complex in 2005, Big Windy Complex in 2013), it has largely been spared and is still as beautiful now as it was back in the day. πŸ™‚


  4. Darkside Trail – really? Was this named by a Star Wars fan? πŸ™‚ Great pictures and so glad to hear that you guys are getting some decent snow fall! Reading about anything associated with the Rogue River brings back fond memories for me. I went to school in Portland in the 70s and did a rafting trip on the Rogue River back then. It was beautiful country.


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