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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Free hike series starts Saturday

Free hike series starts Saturday

The Southern Oregon Land Conservancy has scheduled a series of spring hikes, and a major focus will be a special chunk of land along the Rogue River that the organization is trying to purchase and preserve.

Five of the 13 hikes in the series, including Saturday's kick-off hike, will be at the so-called "Rogue River Preserve," a 352-acre ranch owned by the heirs of former Mail Tribune publisher Robert Ruhl.

The conservancy is in the midst of a $3.5 million capital campaign to buy.....

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Climb to the craggy crest

Climb to the craggy crest

Travelers along Interstate 5 in far Northern California can't help but notice the Castle Crags, a grouping of towering, jagged granite peaks that rise definitely and dramatically above the forest-lined highway. The Crags have inspired other names. The Wintu Indians called them the Abode of the Devil while Spanish explorers dubbed the region Castle del Diablo, or Castle of the Devil.

Instead of driving past, a group of mostly Rogue Valley hikers, led by Klamath Falls' Hans Kuhr, left...

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More trails coming to Medford's Prescott Park

Work will start this summer on a project to add more hiking, biking, jogging and equestrian trails to Prescott Park, which includes Roxy Ann Peak.

The Medford Parks and Recreation Department secured $75,000 in state funding to add to the $200,000 it has budgeted for major improvements to the park, said Brian Sjothun, director of the department.

Earlier this week, a master plan for the 1,740-acre park was approved by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. Although the park is.....

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Siskiyou Mountain Club explores plans to repair foot bridges on the Illinois River Trail

Siskiyou Mountain Club explores plans to repair foot bridges on the Illinois River Trail

The Illinois River Trail snakes 28 miles through the spectacular backcountry of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area and across some of the most productive wild steelhead nurseries in North America — but the trail has some weak links.

The weakest link may very well be a 22-foot wooden bridge over Clear Creek Gorge. It's a tenuous span with rotted supports and missing guard rails, at risk of degrading to a point where it becomes the equivalent of a "No Trespassing" sign.

"You...

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Stunning snowshoe trek on Santiam Pass

Stunning snowshoe trek on Santiam Pass

Before last week, I knew almost nothing about Ikenick Sno-Park.

The winter recreation spot is located near Santiam Pass — off Highway 126 — but sits at such a low elevation there’s been almost zero snow there the past two seasons.

Call it a snowless sno-park.

Internet searches yield little on the area’s recreation, beyond the fact that you can snowshoe, ski and snowmobile there.

Yet I was curious.

The book “Snowshoe Routes:...

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Cross-country ski trip to Fourmile Lake

Cross-country ski trip to Fourmile Lake

This was a different side of Mount McLoughlin.

Inside the Fourmile Lake Cabin, my cross-country skiing partner Niel Barrett was tending the wood stove, stoking a reluctant fire. While he worked, I fought off the chill outside, stomping in the snow while being warmed by the sight of the frozen-over lake and, more dramatically, McLoughlin, the 9,495-foot peak that straddles the Southern Oregon Cascades.
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Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail provides glimpse into the past

Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail provides glimpse into the past

You can get a taste of what Southern Oregon's coastal forests looked like before Lewis & Clark with an easy one-mile hike on the Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail 1172.

To get there from Gold Beach, head east on Jerry's Flat Road (County Road 595). After about 10 miles, you'll enter the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and see Lobster Creek Campground on the road's north side. From there head south on FSR 090, following signs to the Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail.

The...

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Pine Flat trail shows off natural and man-made wonders

Pine Flat trail shows off natural and man-made wonders

The hike into Pine Flat is one of the more popular backpacks in the 180,000-acre Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

The trail is a moderate six miles and leads to a dreamy meadow adjacent to a remote section of the Wild & Scenic Illinois River. In the summer, Pine Flat is probably the only place in the Kalmiopsis interior where you might actually see a person, or even a group.

But with a high point of about 1,700 feet, Pine Flat can be all yours this winter or spring as the transient...

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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

July 23, 2015

View from above

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