Red Cone (Mt. Thielsen Wilderness) 13-Aug-2019

Red Cone is a small volcanic protuberance on the east side of the Mount Thielsen Wilderness (not to be confused with the Red Cone in nearby Crater Lake National Park). The cone in the wilderness is readily visible from Tipsoo Peak and I’ve long harbored a desire to see if it could be climbed. Leaving The LovedOne at the library talking 🙄 taxes, I went to the wilderness alone 😥 to explore Red Cone.

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Five Southern Oregon Hikes: Not the Usual Suspects (May 2018)

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There are many wonderful hikes in Southern Oregon: From the short (Grizzly Peak) to the long (Lone Pilot Trail), from the high (Mount McLoughlin) to the low (Upper and Lower Table Rocks); from the gripping (Mount Thielsen) to the mellow (Jacksonville Woodlands).  These – and many others – are “usual suspect” hikes in that you’ll find them mentioned or detailed in almost every hiking guidebook, travel brochure, blog, or website that speaks to foot-powered travel in the southern part of the Beaver State.  We’ve hiked all of the usual suspects, often several times, but have also hiked some that are less usual, ones you don’t see discussed very often (if at all). Below are five such hikes for summer. But, fair warning, these are not “…slip on the flips, grab a half bottle of warm Pepsi, and wander into the woods…” kinda hikes; you’re going to need some stuff and, for a few of them, real navigation and off-trail travel skills too. That said, hiking these will likely provide you with a different – and probably well-earned – perspective on the natural side of Southern Oregon. It could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

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Climbing Mount Thielsen (August 1998)

Mount Thielsen Wilderness Oregon

Up until 2008, our adventures were retained only as memories and on 35mm slides. While our memories may have faded (just a bit), the slides haven’t – and we have a lot of them. So we’re digitizing a select few to bring some of our past adventures into the 21st Century. The photos below are some of those old slides.

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Cowhorn Mountain (Deschutes NF) 05-Oct-2017

Cowhorn Mountain Deschutes National Forest Oregon

First off, it seems useful to review where we are here.  This is not the Little Cowhorn Mountain topped with a lookout and located on the Willamette National Forest at the end of a one mile trail. This Cowhorn – what some also, for extra confusion, call Cowhorn Butte – is on the Deschutes National Forest (in the Oregon Cascades Recreational Area) a few miles southwest of Crescent Lake.  Back before this Cowhorn’s cow-horn shaped summit spine fell over in a 1911 storm (some storm!), it was called Little Cowhorn to distinguish it from Mount Thielsen, which was then called Big Cowhorn.  The hike to this Cowhorn Mountain’s 7,664-foot summit is along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) starting north from Windigo Pass, which is reached via Forest Road (FR) 60 (a good gravel road) off State Highway 138 about six miles north of Diamond Lake.

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Tipsoo Peak on Snow (Mt. Thielsen Wilderness) 06-Jul-2017

Tipsoo Peak Mount Thielsen Wilderness Oregon

Tipsoo Peak (8,034) is one of the few 8000-foot Cascade volcanos (it ties for #38 in terms of elevation) with a well-graded trail to its summit. Located in Oregon’s Mount Thielsen Wilderness, it is an easy hike to spectacular 360º views, including Howlock Mountain, Mount Thielsen, Mount Bailey, Diamond Peak, the Three Sisters, and Diamond, Miller, and Maidu Lakes.  Directly south of its summit is the highest point (7,560 feet) on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in Oregon and Washington.  We decided to do a quick hike to its summit to: (a) take in the views on what was to be a full bluebird day, (b) check-out snow levels along the PCT, and (c) generate an excuse to stop at Beckie’s Cafe in Union Creek for some of their delicious pie (because hiking is hard and you need to stay fueled!).

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Falling Waters (March 2017)

“Once we have tasted far streams, touched the gold, found some limit beyond the waterfall, a season changes and we come back changed but safe, quiet, grateful.”  ~ William Stafford


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Tenas Peak (Mount Thielsen Wilderness) 14-Aug-2016

Tenas Peak Mount Thielsen Wilderness Oregon

Tenas Peak (6,558 feet) is an ancient cinder cone that sits just west of the Cascade Crest on the northern boundary of the Mount Thielsen Wilderness (details).  The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a short distance to the east and Cowhorn Mountain (also called Cowhorn Butte by some), a somewhat better known hike and short scramble, lies a few miles to the north (post).  What drew my attention to Tenas was a write-up about it by Oregon Wild (post), presumably to build interest in either expanding the Thielsen wilderness or creating a larger Crater Lake wilderness (details).  It sounded like an interesting loop hike in an area I hadn’t visited before (it’s off the Windigo Pass road as is Cowhorn Mountain, but sooner). The clincher was that Tenas used to host a Forest Service fire lookout and supposedly has excellent views (yes, but not in all directions).

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Cottonwood Creek Falls (Mt. Thielsen Wilderness) 15-Jul-2016

Last year, we did a loop hike along Thielsen Creek in the Mount Thielsen Wilderness. Our report on this (post) triggered some comments about the spring (shown on the USGS and USFS topo maps for this area) in the large pumice basin immediately east of Mount Thielsen. So, last week, we explored a cross-country path from the Howlock Mountain trailhead to Thielsen Meadows on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and then up to the Sawtooth Ridge overlooking the pumice basin – it’s actually called Cottonwood Creek Basin and is an area with unique botanical species (post). At that time we decided not to press on down into the Basin to actually see the spring. It was the right decision then but it left unfinished the business of actually seeing this fabled spring. So yesterday I went back up there to rectify this situation.

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Thielsen Creek Divide (Mt. Thielsen Wilderness) 06-Jul-2016

Nine days after this hike, I hiked over the Sawtooth Ridge and across Cottonwood Creek Basin to Cottonwood Creek Springs and Cottonwood Creek Falls, as described HERE.

The 55,151 acre Mount Thielsen Wilderness runs along the crest of the Cascades from the southern end of the Oregon Cascades Recreation Area to just north of Crater Lake National Park. Elevations range from 5,000 feet to the 9,182 foot summit of Mount Thielsen. Born of the same volcanic activity that created Crater Lake, this is an area with a seriously tortured geology. Last year, we did two hikes in this wilderness, one a loop from the Howlock Mountain trailhead (USFS), up the Howlock Mountain trail (USFS #1448) to the Thielsen Creek trail (USFS #1449) and up that to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). We then took the PCT south to the Mount Thielsen trail (USFS #1456), followed the #1456 west to its junction with the Sprague Ridge trail (USFS #1458) and took the #1458 back to the Howlock Mountain trail and the trailhead.  It was screaming hot that day, so this became known as the Beau Geste hike (post). About a month later (and on a much cooler day), I did a trail and cross-country hike to Tipsoo Peak (USFS #1472) and the eastern summit of Howlock Mountain, again using a piece of the PCT to make a loop (post).  An upshot from this hike was a question about the spring (what we’re calling “Cottonwood Creek Spring” since it appears to be the source of Cottonwood Creek) in the large pumice basin immediately east of Mount Thielsen.

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West of Miller Lake (Mt. Thielsen Wilderness) 19-Sep-2015

Miller Lake Mount Thielsen Wilderness Oregon

After hiking the classic Thielsen Creek Loop and scrambling up Howlock Mountain earlier this summer, I got intrigued by the lack of trails on the southeast side of the Mount Thielsen Wilderness. This is the part of this wilderness considered by the Forest Service to be “pristine” as opposed to merely “primitive.” I couldn’t discern any enthusiasm on The LovedOne’s part for a hike that might involve lots of brush thrashing, so I was left to experience pristine by myself. Sigh. 😥

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Tipsoo & Howlock (Mt. Thielsen Wilderness) 27-Jul-2015

Tipsoo Peak Howlock Mountain Mount Thielsen Wilderness Oregon

Mount Thielsen is, justifiably, “the” summit in the the Mount Thielsen Wilderness and is the focus of much of the scrambling/climbing activity in that area. But it sits near the end of the north-south ridge that divides this wilderness and which is itself studded with peaks and peaklets. One of these, Tipsoo Peak, has its own easy trail to its summit (and to some grand views). The other, multi-summited Howlock Mountain, is a short but intense exercise in cross-country trail and scrambling over loose rock and scree. But the views to be had – wow!

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