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.

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Gin Lin Trail (Applegate Valley) 22-Feb-2021

There is nothing good about the Big V. Nothing. But dealing with it has kept us more local and that has made us consider trails, however short, that we’ve overlooked in years past. One of these is the very short (0.8 mile (1.2 km)) Gin Lin Mining Trail, located a little north of oft-visited Applegate Lake. Despite its brevity, it’s actually a National Recreation Trail that was developed to recognize Gin Lin, a Chinese immigrant who through hard work, innovative thinking, and a good business sense – and despite rampant racism – became a notable and respected personage during Southern Oregon’s early days. He is credited with introducing hydraulic mining to the area. The most successful gold mines in Southern Oregon all used this method. This trail winds through the remnants of the last of his mines, the Palmer Creek hydraulic mine, which operated from the mid 1870s to about 1885.

Gin Lin c1880 (Southern Oregon Historical Society)
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Sevenmile Ridge (Southern Oregon) 04-Nov-2020

The U.S. presidential election. A year (or more and then some) of huckstering and debating and pleading and donations and punditry culminating in the Big Day (or Night). Of course we had our preference for who would emerge still standing from this melee. And, although forewarned, we naively clung to the hope that there would be a quick resolution. But no, counting started and kept going and going and going as the tension mounted and mounted. The Big Day and Night passed and by morning it was clear that our nerves were likely to snap before we’d know anything for sure. Then, if X wins (or seems to have won), Y will scream: Cry havoc and unleash my lawyers! All this was getting to be too, too much. We obviously needed to give our nerves some respite with a hike.

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Collings Mountain Loop (Southern Oregon) 09-Dec-2019

The storms of winter have finally arrived. The snow depth is growing in the high country. Mount Ashland, our local ski area, opened a week early. Down lower, we’re having rain and fog interspersed with a day or two of clarity. I sought to take advantage of one of these clearings in the mists to do a little stiffer hike. A loop formed by the lower altitude Collings Mountain and Da-Ku-Be-Te-De Trails came to mind. Easy access, a decent climb (1,800 feet), and a fair length (10 miles) seemed just about right.

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Felton Memorial Trail (Southern Oregon) 29-Oct-2019

The Felton Memorial Trail junctions with the Enchanted Forest Trail about 0.7 miles from its trailhead on Slagle Creek Road in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley. From that junction, the Felton undulates in and out of canyons for some 1.5 miles to a commemorative plaque on Slagle Creek. The plaque memorializes three Bureau of Land Management workers (Felton, Hansen, and Siegel) who died in a helicopter crash at this site in 1993. We first hiked the short, but popular, Enchanted Forest Trail in late 2016 but by-passed the Felton Trail at that time.

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Latgawa Peninsula (Applegate Lake) 05-Jun-2018

Payette Trail Applegate Lake Oregon

With The LovedOne busy at the library, Plan A was to drive to where Forest Road (FR) 1055 intersects the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at Cook and Green Pass on the Siskiyou Crest and then do some exploring along the PCT toward Kangaroo Springs. Uh, no. FR 1055 up from the Oregon side is closed indefinitely (there are locked gates at the bottom and at the pass)  because of damage sustained during the 2017 Abney Fire. It apparently won’t reopen until the Forest Service is able to deal with the burned snags that have fallen (or could fall) across it.

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Up the Fork Without a Pipe (Williams, Oregon) 10-Mar-2018

Layton Mine Pipe Fork Williams Oregon

In March of last year, we hiked the recently restored Layton Mine Ditch Trail north from Panther Gap Road to the Chinese Wall. Then, this January, I hiked the ditch from the gap south to its end at the head of the East Fork of Williams Creek. The ditch ends about 120 feet above the creek and it wasn’t immediately obvious how the miners got water from the creek up into the ditch. Post-hike research would reveal that they had installed a 600-foot long inverted siphon (in today’s terminology, a sag pipe) to carry water to the ditch from somewhere up the creek (today’s Pipe Fork).   There’s no obvious sign today of headworks or pipe (which was 36 inch in diameter cast iron) at or near the ditch’s end.  There may be remains of the siphon up the Pipe Fork. With that in mind, Hike #13 in Roether’s 2006 Williams Area Trail Guide seemed like one way to reconnoiter the drainage. So with The LovedOne away volunteering at the library, I soloed out to Pipe Fork to see what could be seen.

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You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grippe… 28-Jan-2018

Applegate Lake Southern Oregon

Well, after our banging on about how there wasn’t enough snow for snowshoeing (or any other kind of snow fun), we finally got a week of gloomy, wet, turbulent, hiking-unfriendly weather ending in a big snow dump. Yeah! Mount Ashland, our local ski area, was finally able to open! Yeah! So we hustled out to the garage to give our snowshoes the good news, only to find Mr. Grippe waiting for us. Oh, the horrors! Oh, the phlegm! Think of two sock puppets (us) in a room with a dozen Jack Russell terriers (flu virus) for a week and then put yourself in the puppet’s socks. We’re still leaking stuffing…

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Witcome-Payette Loop (Applegate Lake) 03-Dec-2016

Witcome Stock Driveway Payette Trail Applegate Lake Oregon

Since we moved to Southern Oregon, our hiking card has been pretty much filled with hikes on established trails (with varying degrees of maintenance), all of which were essentially new to us. Hence there hasn’t been much motivation to search out lost trails and cross-country routes. For one thing, going cross-country down here isn’t easy given the steep slopes, thick brush (manzanita – ow!!), choked watercourses, and gobs of poison oak. I did manage to find one lost trail – the #908 to Steve Peak – and also follow a now well decommissioned road down the Scotch Creek drainage in the Soda Peak Wilderness to make a loop involving the Lone Pilot Trail.

Recently, however, The LovedOne and I did a shuttle-facilitated hike along the Payette Trail (USFS #970) on the shores of Applegate Lake (post). Despite the fact that Applegate Lake is actually a reservoir of varying depth, this is a pretty nice, low-altitude hike and one to keep in mind if you want something snow-free to do in mid-Winter. But, as I was tracing our track on the map, I noticed another “trail” paralleling the #970 a little upslope. I suspected that this “trail” was actually an old road connecting the Manzanita and Payette trailheads of the Payette Trail, since you start the Payette Trail from these points on short stretches of old road. What it turned-out to be was the Witcome Stock Driveway, which worked in conjunction with a barbed wire fence to keep errant cows away from the reservoir. Today’s cloud-shrouded and hence viewless weather was perfect for exploring the nature and extent of this old road.

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Middle Fork Applegate River (California) 29-Nov-2015

Middle Fork Applegate River Northern California

The arrival of shorter, colder (it was 17º F at our house this morning) days had us casting around for some short hikes that we hadn’t already done this year and which didn’t involve significant snow travel. The Middle Fork Applegate River Trail (USFS #950) is truly short (7.2 miles out-and-back) but parallels an interesting rocky stream as it passes through some large, old-growth forest. It’s easily accessible on paved and good gravel roads and is very popular in the summer months as a swimming / picnic destination (it’s part of Hike #68 in Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon (3rd Edition). However, with the air temperature stuck below freezing for the whole day, it was ours to explore in solitude.

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Butte Fork Trail (Red Buttes Wilderness) 24-Jan-2015

Butte Fork Trail Red Buttes Wilderness California

While we have an admitted preference for loops with a view (and maybe a summit), we were drawn to this out-and-back hike in deep forest on the Butte Fork Trail (USFS #957) specifically because it is in a deep, old growth forest, one that Ruediger (in his The Siskiyou Crest, page 130) calls “…the wildest and most pristine region of the eastern Siskiyou Mountains.” Being in the shady forest, and leading as it does to wonderful little Azalea Lake, this would be a great summer hike or backpack (Hike #155 in Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon, Third Edition (2014)).

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