Hike of the Week: Black Butte Trail in the Siskiyou Wilderness

Hike of the Week: Black Butte Trail in the Siskiyou Wilderness

Spring is my favorite time in the mountains. The peaks are (hopefully) snowcapped, the nights are cold, the creeks are full and nature is just starting to shake off the winter doldrums.

Recently my trusty dog, Zola, and I pitched camp at an open serpentine knob with spectacular views near the Black Butte trailhead at the very northern end of the Siskiyou Wilderness Area. Both our camp and the trailhead were about 4,900 feet above sea level and offered sweeping vistas of the East Fork...

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View from above

View from above

Well maintained trails are still a novelty to me.

On the South Coast where I grew up, a seemingly endless wall of blackberry bushes made exploring much of the southern Coast Range a decidedly prickly proposition. Since moving to the Rogue Valley six months ago, I've made a point to tackle as many of the area's less-traveled trails as my work schedule will allow.

The other weekend, Mail Tribune digital copy editor Forrest Roth and I decided to make the trek up Wagner Butte, a...

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Hanging out at Hanging Rock

Hanging out at Hanging Rock

In 2005 I was caretaker at the Rogue River Ranch, a historic public property nestled on the Wild Rogue River. I quickly turned my back on the busy river corridor and started looking up into the 35,000-acre wilderness surrounding it for a little solitude from the hundreds of visitors we'd see during busy days.

It turns out I was a lousy caretaker who let the weeds get tall. I wasn't around a lot to field important visitor questions, and I got caught inner-tubing down Mule Creek Canyon...

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Tolowa Dunes trails lead to 'mosaic of habitats'

Tolowa Dunes trails lead to 'mosaic of habitats'

Near the end a recent hike in Tolowa Dunes State Park outside Crescent City, two ladies stopped us and asked if we had seen “anything interesting.”

My wife mentioned the flock of great egrets wading in the shallows of Lake Earl. There were, in fact, seven of the long-legged birds, looking as white as angels behind a thin curtain of fog.

I told of several harriers — sometimes called marsh hawks — cruising at hunting altitude above the grassy dunes of...

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Trophy trees on the Frog Pond trail

Trophy trees on the Frog Pond trail

Frog Pond is a north-facing cirque cradled in the 20,000-acre Red Buttes Wilderness Area. On the two-mile hike to its shallow shores, you will encounter some of the most majestic forests I've seen in southwest Oregon.

Trees that reach five feet in diameter are common. You'll find rare plants, including a very special conifer tree that grows only in the Klamath Mountains.

It will come at a price. You'll gain about 1,000 feet in elevation in the first three-quarters of a mile and...

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Enjoying Pilot Rock — minus the heights

Enjoying Pilot Rock — minus the heights

I’m told that any locals who consider themselves avid hikers need to climb Pilot Rock, a landmark familiar to all Southern Oregonians. I’m also told that the way to the top involves some grueling scrambles over loose talus, and has been known to cause adults to tremble, especially ones afraid of heights.

Being one of those unfortunates who dread climbing a ladder to change a bulb in the kitchen, I have no desire to fool with Pilot Rock, thank you. Yet I am fascinated by...

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Winter transforms trail along the Applegate River's middle fork

Winter transforms trail along the Applegate River's middle fork

The Middle Fork Applegate River has become a popular destination all year round.

Barely south of the California-Oregon border and within minutes of Applegate Lake, the roaded stretches along the Middle Fork offer easy access to swimming holes and beaches for free day use. Last spring, I saw a group of 50 to 75 partygoers dancing nude to reggae music blasting on giant speakers here, and the trash I've packed out of dump sites told some very interesting stories defined by alcohol, angst,....

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Soda Mountain hike is tougher in winter

Soda Mountain hike is tougher in winter

Soda Mountain overlooks its namesake wilderness area, straddling the border between Oregon and California in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. It is easily accessible and from spring through autumn, a day hike to its summit is an easy 4.6-mile round-trip.

In winter, however, the hike is transformed into an exhilarating adventure through a winter wonderland.

Some of my kids were home for the Christmas holidays and there had been a recent snowstorm in the mountains. So the...

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Hobart Bluff offers top-notch views

Hobart Bluff offers top-notch views

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is popular in spring among bird watchers. Summer months bring on the flowers and the Pacfic Crest Trail hikers. Then comes fall, and the parking areas fill in with hunters hoping to bag their bounty before hunting season closes. Late fall and winter have just as much to offer.
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Tree hunt amid the king of conifers

Tree hunt amid the king of conifers

Tub Springs Oregon State Wayside is most famous for the sweet water that travelers stop for. The high-country spring was plumbed into a fountain in the 1930s and has been a nice resting stop ever since.

But there's more to Tub Springs than water. It's got an impressive old-growth grove worth checking out and is a perfect place for little ones to explore in relatively gentle terrain. Nestled at about 4,200-foot elevation and adjacent the the Cascade Siskiyou...

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Southern exposure

Southern exposure

The best part of writing a book about Southern Oregon is the chance to feature those wonderful places few people have heard of, let alone visited.
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A trip to the summit on a gorgeous day

A trip to the summit on a gorgeous day

It was the first day of summer, and we were being treated to an explosion of colors on top of Marys Peak near Corvallis. Brilliant purple and red wildflowers carpeted the meadows and clung to scant pockets of soil in an area known as the rock garden.
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Blossom by boot

Blossom by boot

Blossom Bar is a Class IV rapid on the Wild and Scenic stretch of the lower Rogue River that has taken the lives of numerous boaters over the years.
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Silver Falls State Park: A spring wonderland

Silver Falls State Park: A spring wonderland

Silver Falls State Park is one of Oregon's most popular parks, and this time of year it's easy to see why.
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Monument inclusion areas to be explored

The Soda Mountain Wilderness Council is sponsoring a series of free weekend hikes in June to explore areas near the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument that have been proposed for inclusion in monument east of Ashland.
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It's the small things

It's the small things

As we hiked down the Illinois River Trail, tight-roping the edge of a burnt-orange canyon carved by the river 2,000 feet below, it felt as though we were searching for a needle in a haystack.
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