Kerby Peak (Southwestern Oregon) 08-Jun-2020

Kerby Peak (5,545 feet) rises above the east side of the Illinois Valley, almost directly across from Pearsoll Peak in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. Since the trail to the old lookout site on its summit was rebuilt in 1998, it’s become somewhat of a local favorite (even if Sullivan has relegated it to the back of his Southern Oregon guidebook 😦 ). It offers some good exercise, big views (if you time the weather right), and a variety of wildflowers (again, if you get the timing right). Today we hiked it mainly for the exercise (or just to show that we still had the legs), didn’t get the weather timed right, but were spot-on with the wildflowers.

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Hiking Southern Oregon: 25 Hikes (February 2020)

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.  That 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.

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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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A Winter’s Trail on Kerby Peak (Selma, Oregon) 12-Mar-2018

Kerby Peak Selma Oregon

Kerby Peak (5,545 feet) overlooks Southern Oregon’s Illinois Valley, just to the east of major peaks in the Kalamiopsis Wilderness. A hike to its summit in summer is a local favorite (a tough hike to big views!) but there’s no tradition of it being hiked during “official” winter (between December 21 and March 20). We’d gotten up there in February of 2015, during a winter that featured essentially no snow. So, of course, getting to its top in winter – and when the peak was covered in snow – became one of my minor obsessions. We tried it in 2016 and turned back on the shoulder of Point 5112 after The LovedOne plunged into a post-hole. Then I (The LovedOne was having nothing more to do with this delusional behavior) tried again in March 2017, only to turn back when my snowshoes sank out of sight at around 4,800 feet.

Snow came late this winter, so I could have repeated our 2015 snow-free ascent this January. But, nooo, for 2018 I had to wait until it had snowed.  Well, my obsession was thwarted again (at the shoulder of Point 5112 no less [4.1 miles round-trip; 2,100 feet of elevation gain]) but the views were great! I have been warned, however, that my beer ration will cease if there is any attempt to continue with this nonsense in 2019 or beyond. Must find a new obsession…

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A Hop to Rabbit Lake (Siskiyous) 18-Jun-2017

Rabbit Lake Siskiyou Crest Oregon

The trail up Kerby Peak from the White Creek Trailhead is steep and challenging but well graded and rewards your efforts with wonderful views of the Illinois Valley, the Siskiyou Crest, and beyond.  We’ve hiked it before (post) and even tried (unsuccessfully) to summit it when its covered with snow (post). But, while contemplating the map for another hike of Kerby, I saw a small lake – Rabbit Lake – just below the ridge running south from the peak.  Lakes are a rarity in the Siskiyous so checking-it out quickly took precedence over yet another hike of Kerby.  I found a description of the use trail to Rabbit on the Highway 199 website and the short out-and-back hike discussed there seemed ideal for what was going to be (finally) a sizzling hot day in Southern Oregon.

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Kerby Peak (Siskiyou Mountains) 02-Mar-2017

Kerby Peak Siskiyou Mountains Oregon

I usually like to take a break between hikes but what with the latest decent weather window only two-days wide, I felt impelled to do back-to-back hikes.  With The LovedOne up in Portland for the  Rose City Yarn Crawl, I felt empowered (or sufficiently unsupervised) to have yet another go at a winter climb of Kerby Peak in the Siskiyou Mountains east of Selma, Oregon.  We’d first done this peak in the low-snow winter of 2015 but had no luck in the “real” winter of 2016 – we’d turned back halfway when The LovedOne started post-holing to her waist.  We hadn’t taken snowshoes on that hike and so I thought if I tried it this winter with snowshoes then all would be different.  This is not known as a winter hike – snowshoes or not – so I’m not sure what I was thinking here.  Later, I would come to embrace this as yet another hike encouraged by hubris and deflected by irony…

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Kerby Peak (Selma, Oregon) 10-Apr-2016

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Oregon

The trail up Kerby Peak from the 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.  The 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 was revived by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the late 1990s when they restored both the trail and its current trailhead on White Creek Road.

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Kerby Peak in Winter (Selma, Oregon) 10-Feb-2015

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon

We’ve been down here on the outer edges of the empire for a couple of months now and have been hiking mostly around the wonderfully bucolic Applegate Valley or in the southern Rogue River Valley (Soda Mountain Wilderness). This is our first hike in the Illinois River Valley – which is the valley west of the Applegate (and southwest of Grants Pass). We decided to start with the short (but steep) Kerby Peak Trail because it promised views. The views came about even on what was an unexpectedly overcast day. We also got a glimpse at the Brewer spruce, which is found only in this region. This is Hike #69 in the Falcon Guide Hiking in Southern Oregon.

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