Hiking and hurdling into the Blue Canyon Basin

Hiking and hurdling into the Blue Canyon Basin

A recent outing into the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area included a tidbit of Oregon history, a trio of tempting mountain lakes and, fittingly during an Olympic summer, chances to work on overcoming low and high hurdles.

What is normally a 10-mile round-trip hike required added extra distance because of numerous detours, sometimes hurdling or climbing up and over trail-blocking fallen trees or rambling through the woods around mounds of trees, limbs and debris.

Our destination was Blue....

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The family that hikes together

The family that hikes together

For the first 23 years of Scott Whitson’s life, hiking was not at the top of his list of fun things to do.

But then he met our daughter, Lucia, and fell in love. Now he’s a hiker, because she made it abundantly clear, early in their relationship, that she was more interested in exploring the outdoors than going to movies.

So it’s Sunday morning at a campground in the Oregon Coast Range, and Scott knows not to ask whether we will be driving to Alsea Falls and.....

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Salt Creek and Diamond Creek Falls are gems

Salt Creek and Diamond Creek Falls are gems

Salt Creek Falls, Oregon's second-highest waterfall, is just a short detour from Highway 58 in the Cascade Mountains near Oakridge.

With its easy access — it's just 50 yards from the parking lot to a concrete viewing platform with a dizzying view of the 286-foot falls — it's a sight to see. There’s also a trail that nicely winds about a quarter-mile downhill, almost to the base of the falls. Be cautious, a rock slide has made the final descent treacherous.

By....

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Edifying experiences on Mount Eddy

Edifying experiences on Mount Eddy

Sparkling blue mountain lakes, colorful wildflowers and — peek-a-boo — an edifying view of Mount Shasta.

For years, hiking friends have praised Mount Eddy. And, like the nearly unanimous response from most folks, my reply was, "Never heard of it. Where is it?"

Now I know.

Located west of Weed, Calif., Mount Eddy is tall but often overlooked. It doesn't stand out, because it's surrounded by other mountains nearly as tall and it's dwarfed by Mount Shasta. Still,....

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Pacific Crest welcome wagon

Pacific Crest welcome wagon

Jacksonville barber Ed McBee takes special pleasure in sitting along the Pacific Crest Trail and surprising weary hikers with hot dogs, melon, chips, nuts, jerky, pop and beer as they enter the much-longed-for state of Oregon, a huge milestone on the trek for people hiking from Mexico to Canada.

“It’s kind of like fishing. You throw your line into the stream and wait for them to come by,” says McBee, author of a book called “Oregon Backroads Guide to the...

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Great views and solitude on hike to Mount Baldy

Great views and solitude on hike to Mount Baldy

I’d be lying if I said that I dream of making an epic backpacking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Yes, I know that marching from dawn until dusk with a load on one’s back has become the in thing to do, ever since Cheryl Strayed ballyhooed the PCT in her book “Wild” (2012), which spawned a movie starring Reese Witherspoon.

But I prefer day-hiking bits and pieces of the PCT, a few miles here and there, picking up the trail at various spots close to the.....

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A loop with a view

A loop with a view

ASHLAND — Roxan Alforgue scratches intently into the forested hillside, sloughing the duff away to make room for a future footpath, and all the while missing the big picture.

That would be the incredible panoramic views on the peak of this new Lewis Loop Trail in the Ashland Watershed, which shows Mount McLoughlin over one shoulder and Mount Ashland over the other.

"I hope to get up there today and see it," says Alforgue, as the 16-year-old Northwest Youth Corps crew.....

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Wildflowers, big trees and distant views on Grizzly Peak

Wildflowers, big trees and distant views on Grizzly Peak

A hike to Grizzly Peak in the eastern Siskiyous is a welcome escape from the heat of summer. Along the way you will experience the wonder of old-growth conifers, a smorgasbord of wildflowers and spectacular views of the Rogue Valley, -Table Rocks, Mount Ashland, Pilot Rock, the Marble Mountains and Mount Shasta.

The 5.3-mile loop hike takes about three hours, but it is best to plan on more time so you can stop to admire the views, identify wildflowers and have a lunch or snack at the...

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Wild Rogue Trail is worth the effort

Wild Rogue Trail is worth the effort

The Wild Rogue Loop is seriously challenging, but well worth the effort.

The 25-mile route resurrected from trails that bisect and connect previously sparsely traveled wild lands above the Rogue River and ties in with a section of the well-traveled river trail, is a backpacker's dream.

While getting to one of the route's trailheads is difficult, the often demanding trail explores a dreamscape of steep-walled, narrow river canyons, seemingly endless fields of seasonally flowering.....

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Answering the call of the mountains

Answering the call of the mountains

While most of the mountain trips I have written about for Oregon Outdoors have involved backpacking trips into remote and pristine wilderness areas, occasionally there is something to be said for the comparative luxury of car camping.

When I want to sleep in the high country without carrying my gear on my back, my most frequent go-to location is Wrangle Camp near Red Mountain in the Siskiyous.

Wrangle Camp is a largely forgotten gem of the Forest Service campground network and a.....

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Beauty on the butte

Beauty on the butte

What a great excuse for a snowball fight.

Temperatures have been topping 100 degrees in the Rogue Valley, so having enough snow for firing snowballs back and forth was an unexpectedly cool thing to do during a hike up Wagner Butte last weekend. Our fling with fun came near the top of the butte, where the view is, well, a beaut.

Wagner Butte overlooks the city of Ashland and, even better, offers 360 degree views of Mount McLoughlin, Mount Shasta, Mount Ashland, Grayback Mountain,.....

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Kerby Peak offers wildflowers, geology, history, exercise

Kerby Peak offers wildflowers, geology, history, exercise

It was early afternoon, and we were hungry. Deservedly so because we'd worked up an appetite. Depending on which guidebooks, signs or GPS devices you believe, it's 3 or 4 miles from the trailhead to the top of Kerby Peak, a 5,555-foot mountain in the Klamath Mountains of Southern Oregon. Even the summit elevation varies on maps and websites offering advice on climbing the mountain.

There's no disputing, however, that the hike is a beauty — and involves a steep, challenging...

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Seldom Creek Falls are seldom seen

Seldom Creek Falls are seldom seen

The name fits.

Seldom Creek Falls is the perfect name because there is seldom enough water flowing down the creek to create a falls, and because the out-of-the-way falls are seldom visited.

Seldom Creek Falls isn't listed on the Oregon waterfalls list. The usually comprehensive book "Oregon Geographic Names" makes no mention of Seldom Creek or the falls. The Fremont-Winema National Forest website mentions Seldom Creek only in musty reports about replacing pipes that take the...

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Tremendous sugar pines in the Applegate

Tremendous sugar pines in the Applegate

The forested headwaters of the Applegate River was a very different place not so long ago.

Prior to the logging boom in the 1970s and the damming of the river in 1980, the upper Applegate was a much wilder watershed composed of old-growth forests and clear, cold creeks. The Butte Fork of the Applegate River in the Red Buttes Wilderness Area is a remnant of the wild forests and intact watersheds that used to be common in the region.

While other major tributaries to the Applegate...

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Scouting the high ground

Scouting the high ground

APPLEGATE — Luke Ruediger hikes up a trail off the end of Forest Creek Road to a majestic field of spring wildflowers, and off in the distance is rugged Wellington Butte and the site of one Ruediger's new wild hairs.

In two weeks, he and hiking pal Josh Weber will pick their way through the rugged brush as they cross the untrailed Wellington Butte in hopes that one day other hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians can follow their footsteps in relative ease.

The pair....

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A taste of Root Beer Falls

A taste of Root Beer Falls

It was a place I'd seen only from the windows of the Coast Starlight, the Amtrak train that runs each morning between Klamath Falls and Eugene.

North of Chiloquin, the railroad tracks follow the eastern edge of the Williamson River Canyon, offering views hidden from nearby Highway 97. Inside the forested, steep-walled canyon, the Williamson twists and turns, bubbles and rumbles. This isn't an ordinary canyon, not during winter and spring, when a series of tumbling waterfalls do...

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Trails in the Ashland Watershed will reopen for hikers and bikers this weekend

Trails in the Ashland Watershed will reopen for hikers and bikers this weekend

ASHLAND — The intersection of the Catwalk and Toothpick trails is a good place to survey changes that will greet hikers and bikers this weekend in the outdoor playground known as the Ashland Watershed.

For years the watershed has sported a dense forest canopy and thick underbrush that curbed visibility so completely that mountain bikers bombing down Toothpick would surprise uphill hikers and vice versa.

"There is that element of surprise," says Chamise Kramer, a...

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South Fork Smith River is a gem

South Fork Smith River is a gem

Big wildlands? Wild and Scenic rivers? Old-growth forests? Remote hiking trails? The Siskiyou Wilderness Area has you covered. In particular, the South Kelsey Trailhead on the South Fork Smith River provides year-round access to adventure and natural wonders.

Long prized for its wild steelhead and considered one of the clearest rivers in California, the South Fork Smith River is largely undiscovered as a hiking destination — particularly upstream of the rustic Buck Creek Shelter....

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Trilliums love redwoods

Trilliums love redwoods

Early spring is more subdued in the redwood forests than it is in the Rogue Valley, where colorful flowers are popping everywhere you look. In the damp and shady woods, only one wildflower was proliferating when I was there in March — the western white trillium.

But, boy, was it ever. They lined trails in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park like those solar torches everyone has in their garden these days. Each redwood tree seemed to have its own personal trillium blazing beside...

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Snowshoeing with the Smiths

Snowshoeing with the Smiths

CRATER LAKE — "Girls," Larry Smith told a trio of pre-teens, "would you get off the picnic tables please?"

The three girls looked stunned. There wasn't a picnic table in sight, only fields of snow punctuated by occasional hemlock trees. Smith, who was leading a snowshoe walk near Crater Lake National Park's Rim Village, allowed his straight face to break into a smile as he explained that, yes, the girls and others in our group were indeed standing atop picnic tables, but the...

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March 25, 2016

Climb to the craggy crest

January 22, 2016

5 spectacular snowshoe spots

November 13, 2015

Happy trails in the mountains

October 04, 2015

Outside-in at The Rock

August 28, 2015

Treasures of the Lost Coast

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