Kerby Peak in Winter (Selma, Oregon) 10-Feb-2015

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon

We’ve been down here on the outer edges of the empire for a couple of months now and have been hiking mostly around the wonderfully bucolic Applegate Valley or in the southern Rogue River Valley (Soda Mountain Wilderness). This is our first hike in the Illinois River Valley – which is the valley west of the Applegate (and southwest of Grants Pass). We decided to start with the short (but steep) Kerby Peak Trail because it promised views. The views came about even on what was an unexpectedly overcast day. We also got a glimpse at the Brewer spruce, which is found only in this region. This is Hike #69 in the Falcon Guide Hiking in Southern Oregon.

The trail, which curiously doesn’t appear on any topographic maps, was nonetheless well-maintained and easy to follow. We started up with a series of switchbacks through an oak / madrone forest,

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
Starting up the trail through the madrones

and into a mostly fir forest.

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
Then through the firs

This region has little pockets of droopy-limbed Brewer spruce,

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
Range of Brewer Spruce in Oregon and California
Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
Brewer Spruce

and is just northwest of the Brewer Spruce Research Natural Area, so we may have caught a glimpse of one of these rare trees. After an invigorating mile or so of “up,” the gradient eased as we reached the ridge with a view into the fog-shrouded Illinois River Valley.

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
On the ridge near Point 4463

We then contoured around to the east, which gave us views of snow-capped Mounts McLoughlin and Thielsen,

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
Mount Thielsen (T) and Mount McLoughlin (M)

then started climbing again. A series of storms went through here recently but they left only about two inches of fresh snow above 5,000 feet.

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
Starting the final climb to the summit

There were a few sun-break sucker holes in the clouds. Once The LovedOne saw her shadow, there was hope that we’d have a little more winter (or at least snow).

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
More winter?

The summit of Kerby is a rocky outcropping, with certain Easter Island-like qualities,

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
Almost a stone effigy

and increasingly expansive views.

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
Mount McLoughlin

Finally, the summit and a snack, with the Red Buttes on the far horizon.

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
The LovedOne snacking, with the Red Buttes in the distance

The summit used to host a lookout, which was burned down in 1966, presumably (per the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)) to prevent the spread of a communicable disease. Apparently the lookout was not vaccinated and there were huge crowds of people on the summit back in the day. ❓

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
Kerby Peak Lookout back in the day

Despite the overcast, we did catch some views. Peakfinder.org identified almost every bump we could see except these snow-covered ones.

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
Diamond Peak (D), Mount Bailey (B), Mount Thielsen (T), Crater Lake Rim (C), Yamsay Mountain (Y), Mount McLoughlin (M) to the northeast
Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
Grayback Mountain (G) to the east

And then it was back down, through shaggy forests,

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
Mossy

past yawning clear-cuts,

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
One of our forests is missing…

to the trailhead. This was a good, sturdy, steep little hike (6.4 miles round-trip; 2,676 feet of elevation gain) with great views despite the overcast (and hence likely to have awesome views on a clear day). It’s technically a “winter” ascent only because we did it during the winter months. In this pathetic snow year, it was just a cold hike past some sad 😦 little patches of snow.

Kerby Peak Illinois Valley Selma Oregon
Our track to Kerby Peak

HOME