The rains came and flushed the smoke and damped the wildfires. But the wet didn’t kill all of them. The McCash Fire in Northern California came back to life, an arsonist started a fire near Lake Shasta, and two fires in Central California are still busy devouring some staggeringly ancient Sequoias. 😥 More rain is expected early next week. Hopefully, that will knock some more stuffing out of some of these fires. 🙂 In the meantime, we’re supposed to be getting some of their smoke – but none of that seems to have arrived yet (it would be totally fine if it doesn’t – totally fine). Right now it’s more than clear enough for a short hike before we hit the road next week.Continue reading “Grizzly Peak (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 24-Sep-2021”
To celebrate our 600th post on WordPress, we’re highlighting a select few of the many hikes we’ve enjoyed here in Southwest Oregon.
As we’ve perused lists of Oregon’s greatest hikes, we’ve come to notice that these lists are heavily skewed, with a few exceptions, toward hikes near Portland. The Portland metro area’s greater population helps if a list is based on some kind of vote. And proximity to its major airport helps get votes from those who drop in for a brief Western adventure. Even some of the classics, like the Wallowas in Eastern Oregon or the Three Sisters in Central Oregon, often don’t make these lists because they are too far away. So a lot of “great” hikes get done near Portland – the state’s most populated town. And then the complaints roll in about how there’s no parking, the trails are too crowded, you need a permit or must pay a fee, it’s raining, etc.Continue reading “Hiking Southern Oregon: 25 Hikes (February 2020)”
Welcome to our first post of the New Year (and the new decade)! First off, we won’t be burdening you with our resolutions because there aren’t any (our contribution to the new minimalism). These noble, but ephemeral, intentions seem best at producing a January spike in diet book sales and gym memberships. So we’ll just go hiking and eat lots of plants and keep busy and not resolve to do anything special. 🙂Continue reading “Winter on Grizzly Peak (Oregon) 03-Jan-2020”
I had heard about these falls a while ago, but a recent side-trip to them by the Ashland Hiking Group finally motivated me to go see them for myself (while The LovedOne was busy with library duty). These 80-foot tall falls (also called Bybee Falls or Lost Falls or Secret Falls) are located in a 150 to 200-foot deep canyon about 0.8 miles upstream from Lost Lake. There are 19 “Lost” lakes in Oregon and this is one of them. It is not, however, the immensely popular (and accessible) Lost Lake near Mount Hood, nor is it Lost Creek Lake, the huge reservoir on the nearby Rogue River. No, it’s just a small, hard-to-reach lake that was formed thousands of years ago by a landslide that obstructed the natural flow of Lost Creek. Today it, and the falls, sit within the Lost Lake Research Natural Area (RNA) administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
From an unsigned, informal trailhead, I followed an obvious use trail down along Lost Creek,
through a forest streaming with moss,
for just 0.75 miles before reaching a park-like area,
from where I could get a great look at the falls in the deep canyon below.
The falls drop some 80 feet into a huge pool,
where the waters gather before pouring over another cascade of some 40+ feet.
I worked my way around the head of the falls, just to get a look at its other side.
I found a use trail that took me down to the creek a little distance below from the falls.
I suppose you could work your way from here through brush and water to the actual base of the falls. However, the faint voice of common sense argued against solo hiking over wet, slippery rocks and plants on the edge of fast-moving water, so I made do with enjoying the falls from above. After more than a few moments of aquatic introspection, I headed uphill across a gently sloping open area carpeted with grasses and mosses (which, as is too often the case with these “natural” areas, was torn-up by OHV-riding douchebags – beyond sad).
At the top of the open area, the use trail resumed and took me out to a rocky viewpoint, where I could look down on Lost Lake. In theory, I could get down to it from here but that seemed like a lot of bushwhacking in both directions. I’d like to see the lake close-up but figure I can get to it via another, less masochistic (or not) route.
Rather than retrace my steps back up along the creek, I turned uphill from the viewpoint and followed the ridge cross-country, past some rocky outcrops,
to a large, open meadow. The RNA boundary is on the far side of this meadow.
From the meadow, it was another short bit of cross-country to the end of old BLM Road 37-2E-36.2, which I followed to some other old and still in use BLM roads that took me back to where I’d parked. An easy (4.2 miles; 950 feet of elevation gain) loop to a wonderful waterfall and a nice view of the lake, across some interesting and varied terrain. If you can figure out the roads, Lost Creek Falls is a truly worthy destination!
There is a story, possibly apocryphal, of the distinguished British biologist, J.B.S. Haldane, who found himself in the company of a group of theologians. On being asked what one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of his creation, Haldane is said to have answered, “An inordinate fondness for beetles.”
“I never get tired of the blue sky.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh
Every place we’ve lived has had a favorite local hike – one that is close-by, accessible, and short – so that you can get out into the woods for a leg stretch without committing to an epic journey. There are actually several such hikes here in the southern Bear Creek Valley but one that is mentioned in every local guidebook, in several newspaper and magazine articles, and on numerous websites, is Grizzly Peak, located on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land just east of Ashland, Oregon. After a four-day siege of wind, rain, clouds, and gloom, The LovedOne needed to muck about in the garden finishing some Fall planting and winterizing, while I needed to do some hiking. Grizzly Peak seemed the obvious place to start.
The story goes that this peak was named for Southern Oregon’s last known grizzly bear, “Old Reelfoot”, who roamed the area for 50 years before it was shot by a 17-year-old hunter in 1890. When the trail (BLM trail guide) is open (snow-free), summiting Grizzly is an easy 5 mile (800 feet of elevation gain) lollipop loop hike (3 miles for the loop and 2 miles out-and-back on the connector trail), with most of the initial, gradual climb in a cool, shaded forest, followed by big views. Access is all on paved roads and there’s room for about 8-10 cars at the trailhead, along with a pit toilet. In winter, when snow (the summit plateau sits between 5,700 and 5,900 feet) can smother the trail and some portion of the access road, Grizzly becomes a moderate to difficult, but fun, snowshoe hike.
Along the trail are several viewpoints, where you can see the Crater Lake Rim and Mount Thielsen to the north, catch a glimpse of Mount McLoughlin to the northeast, look right out at Mount Shasta, Pilot Rock, and Mount Ashland to the south, and west to Wagner Butte and Grayback Mountain. During the spring and early summer wildflower season, this area hosts up to 300 different species of flowering plants, including Tall Bugbane (Cimicifuga elata), growing here at the southern-most limit of its geographic range. The downside of most local hikes is often their popularity and Grizzly is no exception. There can be a half dozen cars at this trailhead at any time and on hot summer weekends parked cars can stretch down the access road. The pit toilet’s extraordinarily robust supply of tissue is some kind of testament to this trail’s popularity!
On this weekday in Fall there were only four cars at the trailhead (mine included) and the trail, having seen a lot of maintenance over the summer, was in great shape. The recent storms had dropped a little snow on the peak – mostly as decoration rather than as any real impediment to travel.
Mount McLoughlin can be seen (sorta) from the trailhead but the best – but not wide angle – view of it comes a short ways up the trail.
The trail makes one long switchback on the northeast side of the mountain – where snow stays the longest,
before somewhat leveling out at about 5,800 feet and moving to the mountain’s less snowy, southwest side, where today there was only a trace of snow left.
I took this picture of mushrooms growing on a dead tree without realizing they looked, collectively, like a little, lumpy person – or an advertising symbol for cookies or tires.
About a mile up from the trailhead, I came to the sign that indicates the start of the 3 mile loop. Going right would have taken me, in 0.3 miles, to the tree-shrouded and thus viewless summit of Grizzly. But wanting to get an early morning view of the Valley, I went left for a bit to where a brown stake marks another, less formal, trail junction and went left there too. This took me off the main loop trail and out to a rocky, open viewpoint where I could look south and southwest toward Mount Shasta, Pilot Rock, and Mount Ashland. I’d left the house under a blanket of clouds and fog but had climbed out of that shortly after starting up the access road. Now I could look down and see that the clouds, while thick, were not at all deep – go up 300 feet or so and you’re in full sun! It’s a Rogue Valley thing during the winter months.
The morning had started out on the cold side and, looking down, I could see that this year’s leaf drop was encrusted with an intricate lacery of tiny ice crystals.
From this viewpoint, a pretty clear use trail took me back to the main loop trail, and on to the larger viewpoint on the southwest edge of the summit plateau.
From here, I could look down in the fog filling the valley, and west toward Wagner Butte, tomorrow’s objective,
and north toward Medford, still deeply buried in clouds.
In 2002, the human-caused East Antelope fire burned 1,886 acres of forest through which the northern part of the hike passes for about a mile. The fire didn’t do the trees much good but it opened the view considerably and allows sunlight to reach the forest understory so that wildflowers can now flourish. Natural restoration is proceeding, albeit slowly. I continued clockwise on the loop to the north side of the summit plateau where it’s possible to look north and see the Crater Lake Rim, now clearly highlighted by the 2+ feet of snow it had received in the last storm.
From there, the loop trail continues east past some large meadows that fill with wildflowers in the Spring but are now fading gold under the first snow of the season. Last year we had a near “normal” snow year (unlike the previous two years of snow drought) and these meadows rested under 3 to 4 feet of snow and made for some excellent snowshoeing.
Just short of its rejoining with of the connector trail, the loop trail passes the less than remarkable actual summit of Grizzly, just a lumpy pile of rocks. One comes to Grizzly for the views, not the summit.
After a 5.4 mile lollipop loop with 800 feet of elevation gain, I headed home to see how well The LovedOne was composting in the garden…
It had been 18 months since we last visited one of our classic local hikes – Grizzly Peak – perched above Ashland, Oregon, with a commanding view of the Bear Creek Valley. Unlike our last visit – during what passed for “winter” over a year ago – this time we walked through expanses of thick, green grasses and annuals, having struck near the peak of the sunny wildflower season. Floral abundance was everywhere – which was kind of surprising given what a dry winter we had. We were also able to do this hike on a weekday, when this immensely popular trail is not very crowded. Continue reading “Grizzly Peak (Ashland, Oregon) 19-Jun-2015”
We were in Jacksonville, Oregon on personal business and had been sitting in a cold fog bank for two days. We had time for a short hike and, after considering which ones might get us above the gloom, chose Grizzly Peak – just east of Ashland, Oregon [Hike #59 in Sullivan’s Southern Oregon hiking guide, Second Edition]. In a “normal” snow year, this short hike is either not accessible or only accessible with snowshoes or postholing. But this is not a normal year, and we were able to drive a passenger car all the way to the summer trailhead at 5,260 feet! However, the pit toilet amenity was closed when we got there. Continue reading “Winter on Grizzly Peak (Ashland, Oregon) 18-Jan-2014”