Baldy Peak (Southwest Oregon) 18-Mar-2022

Because of yet more personal business and more bouts of marginal weather, we had been denied a hike since we visited Whisky Creek over a week ago. ūüė• At least we got a decent day’s worth of much needed rain out of the last storm system (and another wet storm is upon us as I write). ūüėä But today offered us a clear(ish), cool, and sunny ūüėé interlude between these storms. And, with our personal business project temporarily in the hands of others, we – fortuitously – had time for a hike.

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Good Ol’ Charlie Buck & Baldy 17-Apr-2020

Many years ago, the Buck family owned several properties along the Applegate River in the vicinity of McKee Bridge. Around 1880, Charles Buck was a rancher at the mouth of Star Gulch and by 1900 was a settler about two miles away on lower Beaver Creek. He also had something to do with placing an early cow camp at Wrangle Gap, on today’s trail to Wagner Butte. We can’t say if Charlie was a good ol’ boy, but he was seemingly sufficiently respected to have a gulch and a trail named after him. Unless, of course, he just named them himself?

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Hiking the Mule Mountain Loop from Above 19-Nov-2017

Mule Mountain Mule Creek Trails Oregon

The Mule Mountain Trail (USFS #919) used to be one of the most popular trails in the Upper Applegate Valley. Then the Forest Service lost its easement through private property to the low-altitude start of the trail on public land. The Forest Service’s suggested alternative, the Charlie Buck/Baldy Peak Trail (USFS #918), starts higher up, where it might be closed by snow in the winter, and involves a heart-wrenching 1,200 feet of gain in its first mile from its northern trailhead! Having done this before¬†(post), I thought it might be easier to reach the Mule Mountain and Mule Creek (USFS #920) Trails from the #918’s southern trailhead at the end of Forest Road (FR) 2010-300.¬† There was just time to give this a try ahead of an incoming¬† stretch of hiking-unfriendly weather. The LovedOne has always maintained that hiking should be fun rather than¬†character building, so she buried further under the covers and offered up a muffled “good luck with that” as I headed off into the freezing fog outside our garage.

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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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Mule Mountain to Charlie Buck Loop (Southern Oregon) 29-Mar-2016

Mule Mountain Trail Applegate Valley

As of January 2017, there is no longer access to this trail from the Upper Applegate Road.  The area previously used as its lower trailhead is now on private property for which the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest does not currently have an easement. Please respect the landowner’s wishes and access this trail from its upper reaches via the Charlie Buck / Baldy Peak Trail (USFS #918).

The Upper Applegate Road begins in the small town of Ruch, Oregon on Highway¬†238.¬† Along this stretch of road are some of the best low-altitude, all-year hikes in Southern Oregon. ¬†It is, however, hard to build loop hikes out of these trails without having to resort to friends and/or family car shuttles or extra long walks on roads. ¬†This would consign the solo hiker to just out-and-backs if it were not for – wait for it – the mountain bike! ¬†With a bike, it’s possible to make moderate loop hikes out of many otherwise loopless hikes – allowing you to mix the contemplative pace of a good hike with the soul-searing excitement of a downhill ride on gravel forest roads or on some actual mountain biking trails. ¬†Hence the miracle of the hike and bike (H&B)!

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