Old Trails on Lower Table Rock (Oregon) 29-Jan-2022

The Upper and Lower Table Rocks are arguably among the most popular hiking destinations in Southern Oregon. The current official trails to the plateaus atop both rocks are well marked and very well used. We have a weakness for Upper Table because longer hikes are possible there; for example, an out-and-back to the VORTAC station on old Pumice Road or a little cross-country (staying on game trails) across the valley between the two arms of its plateau. Lower Table always seemed a little less interesting, mainly because its main trail only goes to the old landing strip (built in 1948) and to a few use trails to views out over the Rogue and Bear Creek Valleys. But there’s a little more to Lower than just this strip and those views – as I first discovered on a hike there in 2017.

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Brown Mountain Snowshoe (Southwest Oregon) 18-Jan-2021

We had a nice, big (for Southwest Oregon) snowstorm at the start of 2021. This allowed us a first-of-the-year snowshoe below Mount Ashland through wonderfully fluffy powder snow. Since then, however, not much frozen joy has fallen from the sky. What has descended is a little more rain at warmer temperatures. We are, of course, hoping for colder temperatures and more snow before Spring – mainly because that snow is our water supply. In the interim, we figured it would be prudent to do some snowshoeing on what snow we have. In addition, getting above the thick fog (again) shrouding the valley seemed like a great idea. Plus, we could slap a little more amortization on this year’s annual Sno-Park permit. 🙂

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Willow Prairie: Rye Flat (Southwest Oregon) 29-Oct-2020

How hard can it be for a hiker to follow what’s described as an equestrian trail?
Somewhat harder than it would seem.

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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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Summit Shelter Snowshoe (Oregon) 06-Jan-2020

Trail sign for the Jackson Klamath Winter Trails system outside Klamath Falls, Oregon

Today the snow telemetry (SNOTEL) site at Billie Creek Divide indicated a snow depth of just 25 inches – less than half the historical median depth for this day. o_O But we deemed it enough to snowshoe some of the Jackson Klamath Winter Trails near Billie Creek. These trails are old roads that wind their way through the forest starting from the Summit Sno-Park off Highway 140. We sketched out a figure-8 loop on the Petunia, McLoughlin, and Lower Canal Nordic Trails with the Summit Shelter as our goal (and turn-around point).

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Clover Creek (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 23-Aug-2019

This has been the first August in two years that has not been blighted by smoke from huge wildfires burning to the west, south, and north. This year’s fires have been either small or quickly suppressed (we now have an air tanker base at our local airport). Otherwise it’s just hot here in August (as it should be) and that heat can sap ones enthusiasm for hiking. But we wanted to get out and figured that a stroll along shaded Clover Creek in the nearby Mountain Lakes Wilderness would be cool enough since it starts at around 6,000 feet and goes up to over 7,000. 😎

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Summit Shelter Snowshoe (Oregon) 13-Jan-2019

The Summit Shelter is nestled in the forest southeast of Mount McLoughlin, the most striking peak in Southern Oregon. In winter, the shelter can be accessed via a network of old roads converted to Nordic trails. The last time we visited the shelter was during the BIG snow winter of 2017. Snowfall thus far this year hasn’t been nearly that epic, but the Billie Creek Divide snow telemetry site (the closest one to the shelter) currently shows 30 inches on the ground. Plenty for snowshoeing if we stayed on the trails. So when the weather gurus promised us a full-on bluebird day, we had little choice but to unlimber the shoes and head for the forest.

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Winter Comes to Roxy Ann (Oregon) 07-Jan-2019

One of the peculiarities of winter here in the Bear Creek and Rogue River valleys is the inversion. Between storms, when the winds are quiet, cold air can become trapped (inverted) under a warm layer about 1,000 feet above the valley floor. Then it metamorphoses into a thick layer of dense, gloomy Mordor-esque fog near the ground. This gloom can, if you don’t arm yourself with a technological augury, fool you into moping around the house feeling sorry for yourself because it’s too gloomy to go hiking. Oh, boo hoo. 😥

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West Brown Mountain Loop (Southern Oregon) 12-May-2018

Brown Mountain Oregon

Brown Mountain is a small, youthful-looking (it’s only about 12,000 to 60,000 years old), basaltic andesite shield volcano sitting directly south of its more prominent neighbor, Mount McLoughlin. Much of Brown Mountain is bare, unweathered, dark-colored, block-lava, with a glacial valley carved into its northeast flank.  I snowshoed to it’s summit in early 2016 and we circumnavigated it later that year using the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the Brown Mountain Trail (USFS #1005) [#3724 on the Fremont-Winema National Forest], and the High Lakes Trail (USFS #6200). At that time, we thought, per the Forest Service website, that the western end of the #1005 was at Forest Road (FR) 3705. We would later find that it actually continues to the west and north on a mix of trails and old roads. So the idea emerged of using the PCT and this additional piece of the #1005 to make a loop to the west of Brown Mountain. The LovedOne’s knee is still being cranky, so I set off alone (sigh) under near perfect hiking conditions to have a go at this loop.

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Inside Upper Table Rock! (Southern Oregon) 14-Dec-2017

Upper Table Rock Medford Oregon

The Upper and Lower Table Rocks are roughly U-shaped plateaus, reflecting their genesis as lava-filled meanders in the primordial Rogue River. We’ve done our share (and then some) of hiking at both rocks. The vast majority of visitors to either rock follow an established trail to the plateau, then follow one of several well-worn use trails out to the top of the basalt cliffs for a view of the Rogue Valley, and then go back.  On Upper Table, it’s possible to follow an old road around past the VORTAC station and out the U’s other arm. A few people go that far – there’s a geocache at the end of that arm – but not many.  Out there, however, another old road descends into the mysterious space between the arms.  What’s in there? Obsessive hikers wanted to know! So, faced with sunshine but no snow, we decided to plumb this deep mystery for ourselves – The LovedOne having been coaxed out of the library for this one!

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Climbing to Breathe (Mount McLoughlin) 01-Sep-2017

Mount McLoughlin Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

After two partially successful attempts – hikes of Aspen Butte and Mount Ashland – to get above the wildfire smoke that has been choking Southern Oregon and Northern California for several weeks, we were finally faced with Mount McLoughlin, the sixth highest Cascade peak in Oregon.  At 9,495 feet, it just had to be high enough to be above the smoke.  It just had to be!  😨 If I (The LovedOne having demurred on a grueling ascent in favor of air conditioning at home) got above the smoke, I would (hopefully) be rewarded for the nearly 4,000 of elevation gain this summit demands (making it one of the toughest hikes in Southern Oregon) with BIG VIEWS in all directions.  It would also be the first time in many years that I’d climbed it under totally snow-free conditions – which, to me, makes the climb both easier and harder for different reasons.

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