Sunday, April 15, 2018

Pilot Rock

April 14, 2018

Pilot Rock is a well known landmark here in Southern Oregon and played a role in helping guide pioneers who migrated north from California on the Applegate Trail. Yet during all of our hiking days here in Southern Oregon, we have only viewed it from other hikes and never hiked along the short but steep trail leading to it's base.  We decided to change that today.

At the start of the Pilot Rock trail and ready to go!
After driving south on I-5 and then along the old highway 99, we followed a rough 2-mile stretch of Pilot Rock Road 40-2E-33 to the relatively new parking lot that used to be an old quarry.  From the trailhead we, along with Glenn's sister Karen and our dog Katie, headed out on the trail with the sight of Pilot Rock looming in the distance.

Pilot Rock looms
The trail was in good shape and started out as a slow slight incline as we slowly worked our way up the slope.  We soon came across a few lingering patches of snow which Katie took advantage of by rolling and frolicking through.  Please note, no other hikers followed Katie in this moment of exuberance, but it was tempting.

Trail view

Katie in heaven on a large patch of snow.

Eventually our trail came to an intersection with the PCT which we followed with a left turn.  The trail now began to gain elevation and became quite steep for this last mile of the hike. At points the trail was a series of rock steps put on the trail to help against erosion (and maybe to help hikers not "slide" down the trail on the descent).  Soon a series of switchbacks ensued to increase the climb until we came to the base of Pilot Rock.

And on to the PCT we go...

Rock step portion of trail

View over the valley as we near the base of Pilot Rock
The look up was incredible and Pilot Rock is huge  -- much bigger viewed at the base than from the freeway or other trails in the distance.  The thought of scrambling up to the top never entered our minds once we arrived at the base despite a few folks coming done from having done so.  NO WAY!  Climbing up would be bad enough, but coming down again in reverse?

View of Pilot Rock from the base.  The climb up is along the crevice in the middle.  Not Happening!
After straining our necks to look up and taking some pictures, it was time to head back down (down being the key word) the trail.  We did see some Snow Queen and Yellow Bell wildflowers along the trail, but as Spring progresses we are sure more wildflowers will make their appearance.

Yellow Bells made an appearance along the trail

A small pond created by snow melt runoff
Well, another new hike in the books for 2018.  If you haven't hiked to the base of Pilot Rock, we highly recommend it, but be prepared for a steep climb. It is one of those amazing sights in Southern Oregon that you need to see in person. Be sure to let us know if you scramble to the top!

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

Jeffrey Loop & Little Falls Loop

April 13, 2018

Going hiking always sounds like a good excuse to leave work early.  So despite the clouds, threat of rain, and the fact that it was Friday the 13th,  Glenn used the "going hiking" excuse at work and with our pack and pup in the car, we drove just south of Selma to hike a group of trails along the Illinois River.

Up first, the Jeffrey Pine Loop trail
We have hiked all of these trails before and they offer some great views of the river and include a wide variety of plants and flowers.  However, we didn't expect to see very many wildflowers today since the cold weather is still hanging around.  But as we started hiking the Jeffrey Pine Loop clockwise, we were soon treated to groups of Camas Lilies, Phlox and Wild Pansies.  Little did we know that this was only the beginning of the wildflower parade.



Wild Pansy

After completing half of the Jeffrey Pine Loop, we merged onto the Little Falls connector trail that would take us to the Little Falls Loop and campground area.  Parts of the trail were very muddy and covered by water from recent rains and runoffs, but we managed to work our way along the trail. Of course these portions of trail caused no problem for Katie to navigate. Death Camas, Lemon Colored Fawn Lilies, Mule's Ear, and Iris along with more Phlox, Pansies and Camas led to many oohs and aahs as our hike continued. We even saw a few Checker Lilies - a variety of Fritillary. In some areas there were large patches of Fawn Lilies or Camas making quite the show.

Illinois River

Lemon Colored Fawn Lilies

Checker Lily
When we arrived at the campground area, we continued on to the Little Falls Loop which is around a mile in distance, about the same as the Jeffrey Pine Loop.  More wildflowers here included many appearances by Indian Paintbrush and Mule's Ear.  We also were treated to some amazing views of a very full and fast Illinois river.  So full that the Little Falls were not falls at all, just part of the river.

Mule's Ear

Little Falls on the Illinois River.  The falls normally would be visible in the lower left corner - a 4-6 ft cascade - not today!

Indian Paintbrush

Our return hike on the Little Falls connector trail gave us a second chance to see and enjoy all the wildflowers again - many that we didn't mention due to not knowing their names.  We then hiked the last half of the Jeffrey Pine Loop back to the car.  But before we left, we crossed the road and hiked up to and along the Eight Dollar Mt Botanical Boardwalk trail.  The main feature of this very short boardwalk trail is the California Pitcher Plants at the end, but they are not in season till May - June.  Still lots of other wildflowers to view along this short trail.

Our trail to the right, Katie's trail to the left.

One last trail to hike.

The California Pitcher plant area at the end of the boardwalk

So four short trails (total of 4.5 miles) with lots of wildflowers and views of a beautiful river.  Sounds like a good excuse to go hiking, and it was!

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Lower Table Rock - Bloom Update

March 28, 2018

Just a quick update on the Spring bloom here in the Rogue Valley.  Today we hiked up Lower Table Rock and there are many different types of wildflowers already in bloom.

Nice new sign at the entrance of the parking lot
As you hike the trail to the top there are literally thousands of Fawn Lilies in bloom.  Some portions along the trail are like a sea of Fawn Lilies -- the most we have ever seen on one hike!  Other wildflowers we spotted include Shooting Stars, Buttercup, Saxifrage, Desert Parsley, Hounds Tongue, Oaks Toothwort, Grass Widows and even a few Gentner's Fritillary plants with flower buds on them - just not opened yet.

Goldfield - up close and personal
At the plateau there are some patches of Goldfield (especially at the far end), a few Popcorn Flowers and Desert Parsley.  Still a few vernal pools with two that are quite large.  One even had a Canada Goose as a guest.

Canada Goose enjoying the vernal pool and view of Mt McLoughlin

View of the large vernal pool with Mt McLoughlin in the background

View of the Rogue Valley 
Great views of snow covered McLoughlin too.  The path at the top is still a little muddy but drying up quickly with the recent sunshine.  So get out and enjoy.

Trekking Together
Glenn and Carol

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Rogue River Trail @ Lost Creek Lake - Takelma TH

March 18, 2018

The trail around Lost Creek Lake is called the Rogue River Trail, which may seem a little confusing.  However, when one realizes that the Rogue River is before and after Lost Creek Lake and that the lake is only here due to a dam, one can understand how the trail got it's name.  There are many trailheads on which one can access this trail and we have started at all of them except one - the Takelma TH.

Time for another new hike for us.
So with some sunshine between rain storms we took Katie and headed up to Lost Creek Lake and started our hike at the Takelma TH.  Since we were not familiar with this segment, we actually parked at the Day Use Area and had to hike on the road to get to the TH which is better accessed from the Boat Launch Area.

Into the forest we go....

Great trail signs along this segment

Most of the segment hikes we have done around the lake are pretty exposed and out in the sunshine which makes hiking them a non-summer option.  This segment, as we quickly found out, stays in forested areas most of the time, but still provided many opportunities for viewing the lake and of course, picture taking.

Taking in the views of Lost Creek Lake......

and more views......

and more views.
The shaded trail also allowed for lots of moss, ferns and our small wildflower friend Snow Queen, to abound as we progressed on the nicely kept trails.  As temperatures begin to warm up, we are sure there will be even more wildflowers to enjoy on this hike.

Snow Queen

Hiking on the edge.  Do not  try hiking this segment at night!

The trail eventually comes out of the woods and heads through an Oak Savannah area before joining with a dirt road for a bit to continue to the next trailhead, the Lost Creek Lake TH.  We made the road our turnaround point for a nice 6 mile round trip.
Large rock formation across the lake from the trail

View of lake from Oak Savannah area.
We got to enjoy the views of the lake once again and took time to look at the various rock formations around some parts of the lakes and take in the views of the surrounding mountains, some with a dusting of snow, others still completely covered.  By the way, the trail also has many benches where you can pause and take in the views and goes through a primitive campground which has many picnic tables.  Vault toilets are available at the Day Use Area and at the primitive campground.

We really enjoyed this segment of the Rogue River Trail and highly recommend you give it a try when in the area.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Applegate Ridge Trail (East)

March 10, 2018

Last September we almost hiked the entire Applegate Ridge Trail (east), but stopped less than a mile short in an out and back hike from the Sterling Creek Road TH.  Today we began our hike from the Highway 238 TH access and am happy to report that we hiked the entire trail TH to TH, 11 miles worth.

Where the Applegate Ridge Trail starts along Highway 238
By starting at the Highway 238 TH access, our hike began with a slow but steady climb up to the ridge for about 1.5 miles.  It didn't take long to get warmed up, and since this morning we were shrouded in clouds until we reached the top of the ridge, warming up felt good.

The start of our hike featured much cloud cover and very cool air.

Once on the ridge, the clouds are gone and the views were incredible!

After our climb ended and we made our way through a few forested sections of the trail, we began the best part of the trail, the 3 miles or so that cross the ridges and allow views of the surrounding Applegate Valley and mountains, many that are still snow covered.

Views of snow covered mountains in the distance
Once we arrived at the Sterling Creek Road TH, we had about a 10 minute break before the Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club arrived from Roseburg.  We then hiked the trail back to our car with the club and enjoyed talking with some of the club members while enjoying the wonderful views from the other direction.

This oak tree has seen better days

One of the many amazing views along this trail

Glenn's favorite tree along the trail

Not too many wildflowers out yet along the trail, although we did see a few Oak Toothworts, Desert Parsley, and some Popcorn Flowers.  Regardless, the views all along the ridge make the hike more than worth it.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sterling Mine Ditch Trail - Armstrong Gulch TH

January 28, 2018

The Sterling Mine Ditch trail is over 20 miles long and currently has 7 different trailheads.  We have hiked sections of the SMDT from the Tunnel Ridge TH and the Bear Gulch TH,  so today we decided to hike another portion of the trail starting from the Armstrong Gulch trailhead.

Time to get hiking!
We actually parked at the horse trailer area for the Armstrong Gulch TH and hiked up a half mile series of switchbacks to the SMDT.  We then made a right turn and hiked over 3 miles out and along the trail.

View along the very flat Sterling Mine Ditch trail

Trail with the Sterling Mine Ditch to the right- hard to see in some sections.

The first mile was mostly in the shade and featured lots of trees and even a few areas with large groupings of ferns. We then entered the more sun exposed segment of the trail which featured great views of the Applegate Valley and surrounding mountains, some of which were still covered wtih a little bit of  snow from the last storm.  No wildflowers were seen yet, but it is still early in the year.  It was not however too early for those wonderful little friends of hikers known as ticks.  Yup, they were out already, but we only collected (and discarded) a few.

View from the trail with some slightly snow covered mountains in the distance
As the sun came out in the afternoon, we peeled off our sweatshirt/jacket ---  it actually felt hot! After turning around and retracing our steps, we finished our hike at 7.3 miles, which still leaves us with plenty of the Sterling Mine Ditch trail to explore in the future.

If you are interested in this trail, click here for the website which gives the history of the Sterling Mine Ditch and maps showing the various trailheads and hiking distance in miles.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Joseph Stewart State Park

January 13, 2018

The day started out cloudy and cool, but once the sun came out, we took Katie and headed up to Joseph Stewart State Park and Lost Creek Lake to get in a hike.
Time for another hike at Stewart State Park
Parking in the day use area is free, so we started there and hiked the paved Rogue River Trail towards the marina and campground.  Most of this trail segment is through thickly wooded areas with moss covered portions of trail, but we did have some nice views of Lost Creek Lake as well.  With the lack of rain and snow, water levels are lower than they were last year.

One of many beautiful views of Lost Creek Lake along the Rogue River trail

The 3 amigos - can you guess who is who?
We crossed numerous small creeks and runoffs via bridges, some having water and some already dry due to the lack of rain and snow.

One of numerous waterfalls/runoffs that we came across.

View along wooded Rogue River trail

We took a break near Peyton Bridge after 3.3 miles, then transitioned onto the bike path and hiked through the state park back to the day use area for a total of 6.1 miles.  This segment featured views of the large meadows and old oak trees in the park.

Meadow area of Stewart SP

One of many large barren oak trees in the meadow
Felt great to get out and enjoy blue sky and sunshine!  Plus the wooded areas of our hike had that fresh woods smell!

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol