Wagner Butte (Southwest Oregon) 02-Dec-2020

The Bear Creek Valley (Bear Creek is a small tributary of the Rogue River) had been blanketed in a cold, damp inversion fog for several days. So we thought we might as well go high and look down, rather than up, at it. Wagner Butte (7,255 ft (2,211 m)) was an obvious choice for a high perch. It’s been two-and-a-half years since either of us did this locally classic hike up to the old fire lookout site on the prow of the ridge north of the butte’s true high point. Time to get reacquainted with an old friend! 🙂 Of course, we awoke to find that the fog we were planning to get above had completely disappeared overnight and we were faced with having to hike under totally bluebird conditions. 😎 Such are the sacrifices hikers have to make. 😀

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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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High on Wagner Butte (Talent, Oregon) 14-May-2018

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon

The views from the old fire lookout site at the north end of Wagner Butte make the trail to it (USFS #1011) one of the most popular in the Rogue Valley.  Yet that site, at about 7,080 feet, even though it commands a great view of the Bear Creek and Rogue River Valleys, is not the actual high point on the butte. That honor belongs to Point 7255, about a half-mile to the south. So, for sometime different, I took the opportunity (The LovedOne had a library board meeting – still a volunteer but this is beginning to feel like work) to seek a true high on Wagner.

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Split Rock Trail (Ashland, Oregon) 28-Oct-2017

Split Rock Trail Ashland Oregon

I first became aware of this trail from a 2013 Ashland Hiking Group post and then later found it posted as that on the Hiking Project.  In both posts, the trail was described as indistinct, brushy, and hard to follow in places.  Yet I could see it as part of a hike and bike loop – perhaps the last one of the 2017 summer season – involving it, Forest Roads 20 and 22, and the Wagner Butte Trail. So I girded myself for some bushwhacking and route-finding and set-off on a perfect bluebird day to explore this variation on the classic hike to Wagner Butte.  As this loop progressed, I would be pleasantly surprised to find that the Ashland trails plan that has been in the works for years had finally come to fruition for this tread.

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Wagner Butte (Rogue Valley, Oregon) 16-Jul-2017

Wagner Butte Rogue Valley Oregon

It was time for a hike that was close (no long drive to the trailhead), straightforward (no cross-country adventures this time), and high above the valley heat (if possible). After engaging an extra brain cell, it dawned on me that an old favorite, Wagner Butte (USFS #1011) was the perfect choice. Although we’d been up there many times before (post), it had been awhile since we’d done it as a snow-free summer hike. So, with the LovedOne committed to spending the day at a cow-quilting class in Ashland, I soloed up to the Wagner Butte Trailhead to once again enjoy this old classic.

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Wagner Butte: Another Rogue Valley Classic 20-Oct-2016

Wagner Butte Rogue Valley Oregon

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 Wagner Butte on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest just west of Talent, Oregon (and just northwest of Ashland).  After a four-day siege of wind, rain, clouds, and gloom, a hike of Grizzly Peak the day before, and The LovedOne still composting in the garden, I set out (solo) for the longer ascent of Wagner Butte, now wearing a good coating of snow from the recent storms.

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Wagner Butte in Winter (Ashland, Oregon) 04-Nov-2015

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon

This is one of the classic hikes close in to Medford, Oregon and is becoming one of our favorites due to this ease of access and its big views. We first did it last January but in an odd way because we went right past the trailhead due to a missing sign. We came back this June, found the trailhead, and did the hike the “right” way. We did it again today because a recent storm turned the butte into a winter wonderland above 5,500 feet (the trailhead is at 5,000 feet) and we wanted to play in the snow – yeah! 😀

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Wagner Butte (Talent, Oregon) 16-Jun-2015

Wagner Butte Rogue Valley Oregon

Wagner Butte is one of the classic hikes in our area – providing easy access to cooler climes, forests, and big views. We first hiked it in January through what passed for this year’s “snow pack.” At that go around, we missed the trailhead ( 😳 ) and did some artful cross-country walking through the forest to the upper part of the trail. This left a stain on our hiking honor. Now the time for redemption had arrived – we would try this hike again under bluebird conditions and from the correct trailhead! 😎

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Wagner Butte in Winter (Ashland, Oregon) 13-Jan-2015

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon

At 7,140 feet, Wagner Butte is one of “the” hikes in the Medford area, allowing as it does extraordinary views of the Sisters to the north, of the Rogue and Bear Creek Valleys below, and of Mount Shasta to the S (it’s Hike #60 in the Third Edition of Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon). This year it is also one of the few readily accessible snow hikes down here. So we took advantage of yesterday’s sunny weather to hike it.

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