Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hike This: Pilot Rock

We've been married just over two weeks now and are just back from the most epic awesome amazing backpacking honeymoon.... lots of photos and trail beta to share from that soon! In the mean time, I wanted to blog about this great hike in Ashland, Oregon (where we got married): Pilot Rock

Views from Pilot Rock.

Pilot Rock is a "volcanic plug" in the Cascade range and comes in just under 6,000 feet. You can read all about it in this BLM publication (it's also located on Bureau land, part of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument). We invited friends and family to join us for the walk/mountain scamper the day before our June 20th wedding because it's short enough for most people to handle, offers panoramic views of the Rogue Valley, Cascade Mountains and Siskiyou range, and it has a little steep section at the end that challenges the toughest of hikers. 

This hike, a spur off the PCT, is about 1.25 miles each way with 1000 feet of elevation gain. In recent years, the trail had been rerouted slightly and updated to avoid a sensitive bird habitat and prevent erosion. It's nice, and a bit more manageable to get up and down -- no more scree slopes -- but the rock climbing aspect at the end remains. 

The climb.
Possibly, I didn't fully explain the summiting information with the dozen or so people I convinced to hike with us before the wedding. I also maybe forgot how challenging that scramble is, despite doing the hike a few times in college and in the fall, when M and I took his parents and the dogs. That time, we all made it to the rock-climbing part of the hike. Mike and I summited while his parents hung back with the pups.

Luckily, the friends with babies and small children peaced out on the hike, so we didn't have to haul littles up two chutes and some low-grade free climbing. Instead, our crew grabbed beers and strolled up the trail, checking out wildflowers and urging the dogs along. There's not much to report in terms of how the hike went. We walked, most of us climbed the rocks and took in the views, then we walked back. No one got hurt and I even kept my manicure intact by wearing gardening gloves for the rock climbing. The whole hike takes maybe an hour. 
Pre-wedding group outing.

Driving directions: 
- From downtown Ashland, head SE on Siskiyou Blvd/99. Stay on this road through town.
- Merge onto I-5, heading South, just South of town.
- Take exit 6 towards Mt Ashland. Follow this past Mt Ashland and under the interstate.
- Turn left on Pilot Rock Road/BLM 40-2E-33.
- Follow this till a parking lot/old quarry appears on the right. This is the trailhead.

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