Again to the Hills (Grants Pass, Oregon) 29-Jan-2021

This is a replacement for an earlier version of this post that had to be retired due to erratic behavior. 😥

After my hike in Cathedral Hills two weeks ago, I promised to come back with The Loved One, start at a different trailhead, and do all of the loops. Today, after several days of welcome rain and snow (welcome around here at least), that promise was fulfilled. Capitalizing on a break in the weather and in The Loved One’s library volunteer schedule, we started from the Skycrest Trailhead (we’ve always started from the Espey Trailhead in the past) and strolled around the Skycrest, Wild Rose, and Outback Loops. The cloudy day squelched the few big views these trails offer. So, when I wasn’t trying to keep up with The LovedOne, my gaze went (again) to the little things near the forest floor. The LovedOne did her share of little thing gazing too. Overall, this excellent leg stretch on great trails came to 7.3 miles (11.7 km) with 1,350 feet (412 m) of gain. As usual, the sun 😎 didn’t appear until just before we got back to the trailhead.

Starting out on the Skycrest Trail
Madrone abstract
On the Skycrest Loop
Madrone abstract
An old oak leaf hangs on
A tiny lichen and moss garden fills a cleft in a madrone
Bone lichen
Near the Walker Trail
Mushroom and leaves
An orange jelly fungus sags
Wood grain in a madrone
Listening for birds on the Backside Loop
A pond in a leaf
Moldy madrone leaves
On the Wild Rose Loop
New life from an old madrone
Mushroom and tiny leaves
Droplets and whiskers
On the Outback Loop
Stacked tree fungus
Back to the trailhead
Madrone abstract
The clouds parted over Grants Pass 10 minutes before we finished the hike 🙄
We hiked all the parts of Cathedral Hills

Return to the Hills (Grants Pass, Oregon) 11-Jan-2021

Young 2021 seems to be off to a, uh – difficult – start. The Big V is still raging, vac jabs are in short supply, political anarchy is lurking about, and a pathetic fantasist is pouting. 😦 But this sea of troubles is out there. In here, we’re going for a little walk through little bits of Nature in a little local park (no, not that park, a different one). Are we thus unmindful of the world’s travails? Are we just pollyannas on the trail? Well, no, we’ve never been accused of excessive optimism. We just figure that you can read or hear about the world’s troubles in plenty of other places. No need for that here too. Our posts are, hopefully, just little respites. Think of them as taking up arms against that sea of troubles. 🙂

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Bolt Mountain (Southwest Oregon) 24-Nov-2020

Bolt Mountain (2,241 ft / 683 m) pops-up just southwest of Grants Pass, Oregon. Access to it is managed jointly by Josephine Country Parks ($5/day parking fee) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It’s a low-altitude hike (6.6 miles (10.3 km); with 1,270 feet (387 m) of gain) that we typically save for early winter when the weather is dubious and there’s not yet enough recreational snow at higher altitudes. There are supposedly good views from its summit. But we have yet to coordinate our visits with clear days. Thus we have gotten some excellent views of dreary grayness. Today’s hike up Bolt was no exception. A good hike to murky views. Of course, as we were driving home the clouds parted and sunlight burst forth. Oh, the irony! Oh! Oh! 🙄

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Mountain of the Rogue (Oregon) 11-Mar-2020

Today was a grand conflation of an absolutely perfect day for a hike with no duties for The LovedOne at the library. Yes, Dorothy, there are (small) miracles. Jennifer introduced me to the Mountain of the Rogue trail system in 2018 and I’ve done several hikes there since – just not with The LovedOne. So today we set out to remedy that omission.

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Dollar Mountain (Southern Oregon) 24-May-2019

Dollar Mountain rises just to the west of downtown Grants Pass, Oregon. The hike to its summit from the trailhead on B Street is short but a little steep in places (2 miles round-trip; 800 feet of gain). The summit isn’t really the point here since it’s graced with a delightfully obnoxious communications tower and there are no views from there. Those can be had from openings along the trail as it climbs through a beautiful oak and manzanita forest. If you time it right (we just missed the peak of the bloom) there will be an understory of wildflowers to distract you. We’d saved Dollar for a day when we had non-hiking stuff 😦 to do but still wanted to squeeze in a hike. So when this morning dawned sunny and bright, we did a quick out-and-back to Dollar followed by restorative libations at Climate City Brewing. Thus fortified, the non-hiking stuff seemed easier to deal with…

The no-frills trailhead on B Street
Up through stands of oaks
And towering madrones
Hooker Indian Pink
Farewell-to-Spring / Herald-of-Summer
The name of this one eluded us…
Through an avenue of lichen-draped madrones
Looking southwest from the trail, with Bolt Mountain (B) in the middle distance
Another view west from the trail
On to the summit
The “Electrodendron” 😉 on Dollar’s summit

Mountain of the Rogue (Rogue River, Oregon) 06-Oct-2018

Mountain of the Rogue Rogue River Oregon

Jennifer – a friend and former co-worker (now retired too) – was in town to celebrate her dad’s 91st birthday 🙂 and wanted to get in a short hike before the festivities started. With The LovedOne fully involved (over-volunteered) with the library’s quarterly book sale, I was available for a hike too. Jen suggested the Mountain of the Rogue, a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) trail system not far from where her parents live. I hadn’t been there before and a new trail is always interesting.  The single-track, flow trails at this BLM site are designed specifically for mountain bikes but some are open to hikers too – you just have to keep an eye out for bikers (we only saw one today).  Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t in its happy place, so we did the entire hike under clouds and in mists – a noir vibe without actual rain. We went up the RAT Pack and Darkside Trails to the ravaged old comm site atop Tin Pan Peak and returned via the Sasquatch Trail, for a 7.3 mile, 1,300 feet of elevation gain loop. Cranky weather aside, it was a good hike that gave us time do some catching-up on recent and not-so-recent events.

Mountain of the Rogue Rogue River Oregon
The weather was not going to cooperate

Mountain of the Rogue Rogue River Oregon
Surprised it’s not “Jared Hood Peak”

Mountain of the Rogue Rogue River Oregon
With a little sunshine, the Fall color would have been great

Mountain of the Rogue Rogue River Oregon
Jen goes hiking

Mountain of the Rogue Rogue River Oregon
Our loop to Tin Pan Peak


Sorry Hike, But Nice Flowers (Selma, Oregon) 11-Mar-2018

Illinois River Deer Creek Selma Oregon

We awoke under an overcast sky to find an hour missing from our lives (actually just borrowed – it would be returned in the Fall). All of the electronics in the house already knew this and had pro-actively deducted that hour for us. Something erie about this – a wisp of the Singularity? But at least we didn’t have to remember how to reset our few remaining digital clocks (…push the left button twice, while simultaneously holding the middle button down, then push…). Anyway, we responded to this sleep deprivation from the onset of Daylight Savings Time by picking a new (to us) hike right out of a guidebook. The hike’s write-up did warn us that it would be along a road that gets really rough, but we’d be going along the scenic Illinois River, so how bad could it be? Continue reading “Sorry Hike, But Nice Flowers (Selma, Oregon) 11-Mar-2018”

Cathedral Hills Park (Grants Pass, Oregon) 05-Feb-2017

Cathedral Hills Park Grants Pass Oregon

It was the driest of times; it was the moistest of times.  Well, mostly moistest lately.  So when the forecast shifted abruptly to “possibly clear” for the morrow’s morning and early afternoon, we felt compelled to sieze the moment.  But what moment and where?  After consulting the oracles (and Glenn & Carol’s website), it was decided that we should make our first visit to the 400 acre Cathedral Hills Park just southwest of Grants Pass, Oregon.  Using the park’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) map, we sketched out a double lollipop with the Skycrest Loop to the north, the Outback Loop in the middle, and the Wild Rose Loop to the south.

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Whisky Creek Cabin (Rogue River Trail) 13-Jan-2017

Whiskey Creek Cabin Rogue River Trail Oregon

Whisky Creek Cabin is the oldest known still standing mining cabin in the remote lower Rogue River canyon. It sits just above the iconic Rogue River Trail (BLM, USFS, Our Trip) about 3.5 miles downstream of the put-in at Grave Creek. It makes a great goal for a moderate and educational dayhike in all but the summer months, when it can be brutally hot in the canyon. With the remnants of the Great Storm of 2017 (now referred to locally as the “Big Dump”) still stifling access to higher elevations, we figured, based on a previous hike there (post), that the Rogue River Trail, which is south-facing and at an elevation of only 600 feet, would allow us to do a snow-free out-and-back hike to the cabin. The drive over to the trailhead was on roads disconcertingly lined with a foot or more of snow but when we got to Grave Creek, we found it and the trail almost entirely clear of snow! The added bonus for hiking at this time of year was a chance to see the Rogue at high water – it had come down some since being in flood just two days ago but was still impressively high.

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Bolt Mountain (Grants Pass, Oregon) 07-Dec-2016

Bolt Mountain Grants Pass Oregon

The winter of 2015-16 was blessed with an El Niño, which gifted us a normal (and then some) snow pack (yeah!).  And now it looks like we’re going to experience a La Niña, which should bring on a normal (and then some) snowpack for the winter of 2016-17 (yeah!).  But the storms have been coming in one after the other, with little time between them for the snow to settle or the roads to clear higher up (not yeah!).  So we’re stalling on undertaking this Winter’s first snowshoe hike and instead are picking-off a few of the lower-altitude, snow-free hikes we haven’t done yet.  One of these is Bolt Mountain, located on Josephine County and Bureau of Land Management land about 5 miles southwest of Grants Pass, Oregon.  The 3.2 mile trail to the summit is popular with mountain bikers but is multi-use and open to hikers and equestrians too.  It’s also reputed to be a good wildlflower hike in the Spring, and one with great views on a clear day.  Today we did it as an exercise hike; a short one we could squeeze in before the next round of storms envelopes us.

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Briggs Creek (Merlin, Oregon) 04-Mar-2015

Briggs Creek Elkhorn Mine Merlin Oregon

Update: This area was burned by the 2018 Taylor Creek Fire.

With the exception of the iconic Rogue River Trail, most guidebooks don’t list many hikes just west of Grants Pass, Oregon. But Sullivan (Hike #85, 3rd Edition) and Bernstein & Urness (Hike #68, 2014) both suggested the Briggs Creek Trail (USFS #1132) as an easy one with some interesting flora and history, so we decided to give it a try. Continue reading “Briggs Creek (Merlin, Oregon) 04-Mar-2015”