Squaw Peak (Applegate Lake, Oregon) 21-Feb-2015

Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon

Last month, I’d hiked a part of the Little Grayback Trail for the first time but had gotten diverted from it by a climb of Little Grayback itself. This time around our goal was to hike the whole trail and continue on to the old lookout (Now restored and part of the Forest Service’s rental program.) on Squaw Peak. We realize some folks find this name offensive but the U.S. Geological Survey has not yet seen fit to amend the maps in this area, so we’re stuck with it when describing our hike. The LovedOne was along to provide the common sense needed to keep me from getting flayed by foolishly trying to go cross-country through manzanita and buckbrush thickets! 🙄 

We started at the lower Little Grayback Trailhead,

Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon
At the trailhead (again)

and began a gentle but ever upward traverse into a madrone forest,

Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon
Through the madrones

then on up into a forest heavy with Ponderosa pines (possibly my favorite pine),

Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon
Up through the pines

across open meadows,

Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon
One of several meadows along the trail
Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon
Looking up toward Little Grayback

where the first tiny flowers of Spring are already out,

Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon
Filaree

then back into the forest,

Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon
Once more the forest

before finally glimpsing the old lookout, our goal for the day.

Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon
The Squaw Peak Lookout (arrow)

The entire trail is south facing, so my decision to wear shorts in February worked out just fine! The trail ends at Forest Road (FR) 2010-300 and we followed that road for a short distance to a four-way junction with FR 2010 itself and continued straight ahead up the service road (blocked to vehicles by a locked gate) to the lookout. The lookout itself is no longer used as a fire lookout (It’s now available for rental.) but provides a place for the automated meteorological station now sitting next to it. During our last series of storms, that station clocked winds in excess of 100 mph over the peak – it was amazing that there weren’t more trees down on the trail!

Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon
The Squaw Peak Lookout and met station

There are, of course, views.

Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon
Grayback Mountain (G), Baldy Peak (arrow), and the lookout’s sanitary facility
Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon
Wagner Butte (arrow)
Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon
The LovedOne and Mount McLoughlin (R)

After lunch, we went back the way we’d come – passing a raucous group of Medford Happy Hikers along the way – and marveling how quickly the leaves of Fall were giving way to the new grasses of Spring.

Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon
Death and renewal (R)

A moderate (11 miles round-trip; 1,800 feet of elevation gain) – the last bit of road walking to the lookout is the steepest part – and highly recommended hike and, according to the locals, a wildflower bonanza in the Spring. 🙂

Squaw Peak Littlegray Back Trail Applegate Lake Oregon
Our track to Squaw Peak

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