We had heard about the Wagner Butte trail just outside the city of Talent, but never hiked it despite it's close proximity. Since we hiked 11+ miles on the John Dellenback loop trail at Diamond Lake last year and 11+ miles along the Upper Rogue Trail this year with our hiking friend Richard, we thought it was time to hike this beautiful 10.4 round-trip trail. But there is something different about the Wagner Butte trail -- it is UPHILL.
After navigating the roads to the trailhead, we set out and it didn't take long for the uphill portion of this hike to begin. Almost the entire first mile is an uphill trek, but it took us through beautiful forested areas with an abundance of wildflowers like Woodland Strawberries, Oregon Anemone, Western Spring Beauty, Trilliums, Woodland Violets & Calypso Orchids to name a few.
Eventually we reached the first of many meadows and although there were many wildflowers not yet in bloom, we did get to see some Lupine opening, Marsh Marigolds and a few others smaller flowers in bloom.
|View of the first meadow from the trail|
|Lupine just starting to bloom in the first of many meadows|
One of the larger meadows we encountered was the Sheep Creek Slide area. Back in 1983 a severe thundershower hit the area and sent 400,000 tons of soil, trees and granite from Wagner Butte sliding 4 miles to the Little Applegate River. This area is now an open meadow with a few small streams and lots of wildflowers, not to mention the amazing views up and down the slide area.
|Beginning of the Sheep Creek Slide meadow|
|The view from the Sheep Creek Slide area|
We also hiked through many sunny sagebrush meadows where there were clumps of Indian Paintbrush, Iris, Creeping Phlox and a new flower to us, the Western Peony.
|Trail through sunny sagebrush meadow|
The wildflowers & varying landscapes made for a beautiful and enjoyable hike and often times kept us from thinking about the fact that we were heading uphill. It took us 3 hours to finally arrive at the Wagner Butte Fire Lookout area where we took some time to rest and take in all the views which included Mount Ashland. We even saw some patches of snow on a few nearby hills.
|View up to the fire lookout area|
|Can you read the sign? We couldn't and we were there!|
|The view from Wagner Butte Fire Lookout|
As the saying goes, "what goes up, must come down", so we too had to eventually leave Wagner Butte and begin the descent. By the time we reached the end of the trail and our car, we were very tired and our knees were a little upset with us. Must be an age thing.
Although this was a tough hike, it was also awesome in that it provided us with beautiful views all along the trail & included so many varieties of wildflowers. It also proved to us that we can hike a 10+ mile trail that includes long uphill portions.
Now we would like to encourage anyone in the area to get out and try this trail. Click here for driving instructions. If the entire 10.4 mile hike is a bit too long for you, try hiking just to the Sheep Creek Slide area (2 miles roundtrip) or to the Wagner Glade Gap (6.6 miles roundtrip) and enjoy views & wildflowers.
Glenn & Carol