Dunlop Meadows (Southern Oregon) 28-Apr-2019

Dunlop Meadows are two large meadows in the South Fork – Little Butte Creek drainage, southeast of Dead Indian Soda Springs, and overlooking the South Fork Canyon. My recent exploration of the Soda Springs Trail (USFS #1009) was supposed to include a detour to see the Meadows (USFS #1006) but my enthusiasm faded before I could get that far. The bears might also have had something to do with my foregoing the meadows that day. But today was a new day and I still wanted to see the meadows and the old cabin supposedly sitting in one of them. So, with The LovedOne still busy with Comic Con, I headed out to see the meadows, hoping the bears were now back in Ashland where they belong instead of roaming the woods scaring people. o_O

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Back on the Sunny Ditch (Oregon) 24-Mar-2019

Last week, I returned to the middle section of the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail for the first time in several years. Except for the absence 😦 of The LovedOne, it was a great hike in near perfect weather. It was this earlier hike between the Bear Gulch and Tunnel Ridge Trailheads that convinced us that Southern Oregon was a good place to be if you wanted to enjoy the outdoors year-round. Today was cast as a similarly near perfect hiking day between periods of rain and gloom. And The LovedOne was free (temporarily) of both the library and her numerous fabric projects. So I pitched a bike-assisted hike of the eastern end of the ditch – one we hadn’t done since 2013 – and she went for it. 🙂

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Sunshine on the Ditch (Oregon) 17-Mar-2019

We’re enjoying a (likely temporary) spate of near perfect hiking weather: sunshine 😎 , blue skies, cool breezes, and still dormant ticks. This being Oregon in the Spring, such perfection won’t last long (the ticks, however, will likely go on forever). I was keen to use this interlude of hiking nirvana to continue working the kinks out of my back, while fooling with the straps on my new daypack. I needed a 10-mile or less hike with some gain and no snow. Thus the year-round, low-altitude, south-facing (mostly), and nearby Sterling Mine Ditch Trail came to mind. The trail doesn’t form a natural loop but I could make one using my mountain bike (thank you REI dividend 🙂 ). It hadn’t gotten out of the garage at all this winter, was feeling a little deflated (at least its tires were), and needed to get back on the road. The LovedOne opted out of this adventure, electing to stay inside o_O and work on a fabric project of some complexity.

So, going it alone, 😥 I drove up the Deming-Armstrong Road, hid the bike at the Wolf Gap Trailhead, then drove back down and parked at the Deming Gulch Trailhead. One of these days I’m going to ride this trail (it’s an easy and popular mountain biking route) but today I was focused on walking it. I ambled along the 8.3 miles between Deming Gulch and the junction with the Wolf Gap Trail (closed to bikes), enjoying the sun, the ditch, and the occasional views. Climbing back up to Wolf Gap added 1.5 miles and 950 feet of gain to the hike but also opened up some bigger views. After retrieving the bike, I coasted back down to where I’d parked. The last time we did this hike was four years ago, so this return was wonderful, my back held off complaining until the very end, and no ticks were sighted or squished (yet). In another month there will be wildflowers along this trail. 😀

Near Deming Gulch, a fallen tree blocks the trail and spans the ditch
Morning along the ditch
A corridor of ferns thanks to this year’s many rains
A charred madrone
A canopy to leafless trees
From the viewpoint: (1) Grayback Mountain, (2) Big Sugarloaf Peak, (3) Burton Butte, (4) Mount Baldy, (5) Ben Johnson Mountain
Along the ditch
The trail leaves the forest and crosses sunny slopes bearing oaks and madrones
View from the trail: (1) Burton Butte, (2) Tallowbox Mountain, (3) Mount Baldy, (4) Ben Johnson Mountain. The arrow points to the ditch trail.
Madrones along the trail
Sunshine! 😎
Madrones line the ditch
Lightly charred Ponderosa bark
Near the Wolf Gap junction, the trail enters a forest of madrones and Ponderosa pines
Climbing the Wolf Gap Trail through still dormant meadows
Oaks along the Wolf Gap Trail
The hike (solid red line) and the bike (dotted black line)

Anderson Camp (Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness) 01-Jun-2018

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon

The Forest Service styles the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail (USFS #1470) as the primary route through the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness.  This may be true in concept but, in practice, they seem to have given little, if any, attention to its maintenance.  We have been exploring it in sections for the last few years and have found tread ranging from good (from its southern trailhead to Abbott Butte Lookout) to non-existent (between Falcon Butte and Abbott Butte).  It would be the obvious thru-hike for this wilderness if one could trust the tread (and also find water sources).  But our explorations continue, this time between Anderson Mountain and Hershberger Mountain, with a visit to Anderson Camp, Anderson Prairie, and the site of the Anderson Mountain fire lookout.

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Kerby Peak (Oregon) ~ The Old Way 19-May-2018

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Oregon

The trail up Kerby Peak from the north (White Creek Road Trailhead) is steep and challenging but well graded and rewards your efforts with wonderful views of the Illinois Valley, the Siskiyou Crest, and beyond.  That trail apparently dates back to 1915 (or earlier) and was heavily used when a fire lookout sat atop the peak. The lookout was burned in 1966 and a new trail was constructed in 1978 but soon fell into disrepair. It did so mainly because, in those days, it was much easier to reach Kerby’s summit from the south via the Rabbit Lake Road (Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Road 39-6-9). Not until the BLM abandoned this road (in the 1990s) were they able revive both the northern trail and its trailhead on White Creek Road. But 39-6-9 is still there and I (The LovedOne demurred due to the possibility of bushwhacking through ticks) thought that (with a bike assist) it would be fun to reach Kerby’s summit the old way.

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Hobart Bluff (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 14-Jan-2018

Hobart Bluff Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Oregon

Last winter – the one with snow – we did a fun and not-too-hard snowshoe hike to Hobart Bluff in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument from Green Springs Summit on Highway 66.  In summer or a snow-free winter, reaching Hobart Bluff is an easy, pleasant three or six mile (round-trip) day hike through white fir and oak/chaparral forests and high-country meadows to the Bluff’s craggy basalt cliffs with their expansive views of such peaks as Mount Shasta, Mount McLoughlin, and Pilot Rock. Rather than pine (or whinge) endlessly for snow, we opted to hike from Green Springs Summit to the Hobart Bluff Trailhead via the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), then return via the Soda Mountain  Road with a mountain bike-assist.

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Green Springs Mountain (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 06-Jan-2018

Green Springs Mountain Loop Oregon

By all rights, the easy but scenic Green Springs Mountain Loop Trail, which is now within the expanded Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, should be under snow. But it’s not. Which meant that I could include it as part of a bike-assisted dirt hike from Green Springs Summit on Highway 66 to East Hyatt Lake Road near Hyatt Lake. The hardest part of this hike was convincing myself to leave the house into a cold, zero-visibility fog secure in the perhaps foolish belief that there was sunlight up there somewhere. The dark and fog were too much for The LovedOne, who buried yet more deeply under the covers and mumbled something about don’t disturb the cat on your way out. Not that the cat has evidenced any interest in going hiking, ever. 🙄

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Split Rock Trail (Ashland, Oregon) 28-Oct-2017

Split Rock Trail Ashland Oregon

I first became aware of this trail from a 2013 Ashland Hiking Group post and then later found it posted as that on the Hiking Project.  In both posts, the trail was described as indistinct, brushy, and hard to follow in places.  Yet I could see it as part of a hike and bike loop – perhaps the last one of the 2017 summer season – involving it, Forest Roads 20 and 22, and the Wagner Butte Trail. So I girded myself for some bushwhacking and route-finding and set-off on a perfect bluebird day to explore this variation on the classic hike to Wagner Butte.  As this loop progressed, I would be pleasantly surprised to find that the Ashland trails plan that has been in the works for years had finally come to fruition for this tread.

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Upper South Fork Trail (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 03-Jul-2017

Upper South Fork Rogue River Trail Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

The South Fork Rogue River, a 25-mile tributary of Oregon’s Rogue River, rises in the Blue Lake Basin of the Sky Lakes Wilderness and flows generally northeast to its confluence first with the Middle Fork and then with the main Rogue slightly upstream of Lost Creek Lake.  The South Fork is bordered for part of its length by three hiking trails: the Lower South Fork Trail between Lower South Fork Bridge and Imnaha Creek (USFS #988), the Middle South Fork Trail between the Upper and Lower South Fork Bridges (USFS #988), and the Upper South Fork Trail from near Upper South Fork Bridge to the Blue Lake Basin (USFS #988).  Both the Lower and Middle trails are locally popular and are also described in almost every hiking guidebook for this area.  The Upper trail is rarely mentioned (if at all) in local guidebooks and is described by the Forest Service as a minimally maintained primitive trail, one not recommended for horses, and a challenging workout for hikers.  This made a hike of it sound intriguing for one last venture into the Sky Lakes until the end of mosquito season in September.

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Hiking to Squaw Peak (Southern Oregon) 28-Apr-2017

Charlie Buck Trail Squaw Peak Oregon

The 11-mile Mule Mountain~Mule Creek loop hike in Southern Oregon’s Upper Applegate Valley (USFS #919) used to be a winter/spring favorite owing to its accessibility in winter and wildflowers in spring.  Unfortunately, access to the bulk of the trail on federal land was across a 0.3 mile easement on private land.  In 2016, when that private land changed ownership, the easement was revoked.  While some people still seem to be using the trail, doing so technically constitutes trespassing – which may become more of an issue if the new owner takes up residence on the site.  The U.S. Forest Service is supposedly negotiating for a new easement but, in the meantime, they suggest accessing the loop from its top via the Charlie Buck/Baldy Peak Trail (USFS #918). This approach does not have nearly the accessibility (it was closed by snow all winter) as did the old #919, but it’s what’s on offer at the moment.

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Anderson Butte (Southern Oregon) 21-Dec-2016

Anderson Butte Applegate Valley Southern Oregon

The Sterling Mine Ditch Trail was the first trail we hiked in Southern Oregon before deciding to move south (post).  Granted calling a trail “mine ditch” doesn’t make it sound all that attractive but it is, in fact, a very pleasant, low elevation, year-round trail, with wildflowers in the Spring and a rich history.  We’ve now hiked the entire length of the trail between its Deming Gulch, Wolf Gap, and Little Applegate trailheads (post). Having done all this, the eternal quest for a new hike or a twist on an old hike kicked in. A posting by the Ashland Hiking Group attracted our attention to Anderson Butte (5,197 feet), a lumpy peak which rises above the eastern end of the ditch trail and which used to be graced by a fire lookout.  After deep cartographic introspection, it looked like a loop could be formed using the ditch trail, some forest roads, and a bit of cross-country travel.  The LovedOne has grown just a little leery of my “experimental” hikes and thus obtained a Winter Solstice Deferment (not enough daylight!) to avoid accompanying me on this one.  So, feeling warmth only from my Dutch Brothers White Chocolate Mocha, I headed into the wilderness…

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