Wagner Butte in Winter (Ashland, Oregon) 04-Nov-2015

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon

This is one of the classic hikes close in to Medford, Oregon and is becoming one of our favorites due to this ease of access and its big views. We first did it last January but in an odd way because we went right past the trailhead due to a missing sign. We came back this June, found the trailhead, and did the hike the “right” way. We did it again today because a recent storm turned the butte into a winter wonderland above 5,500 feet (the trailhead is at 5,000 feet) and we wanted to play in the snow – yeah! 😀

The trailhead sign is still missing from the left side of the road but the trailhead parking on the right side is still a large, hard-to-miss area artfully festooned with big potholes. 🙄

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon
The Wagner Butte pot-hole farm

The best part of a winter hike here is breaking out of the trees into the wide open spaces at Warner Glade Gap (6,600 feet),

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon
Coming to Warner Glade Gap
Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon
Grayback Mountain (arrow) to the west

From the glade, the trail contours gently up toward the summit, passing through avenues of trees,

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon
Contouring out to the old lookout site

and the footprints of numerous small critters,

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon
Squirrel?

before breaking into the open again for the final climb to the summit.

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon
The last meadow before the summit

The valley had been choked with fog when we left the house but it had dissipated below while we were climbing, making the summit eligible for big views.

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon
Sunny and clear on the summit
Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon
Mount Ashland and Mount Shasta to the south
Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon
Mount McLoughlin to the east, with the town of Ashland below

It was pretty cold on the summit, but a lack of wind (at least while we were there) made it a reasonably comfortable spot for lunch.

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon
It was clearly windy earlier

Then it was back down the big rock pile that forms the summit,

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon
Descending from the old lookout site

and on to the trailhead past the meadows that lie below the summit ridge.

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon
One of the meadows passed by the trail

As usual, this was a moderate, but fun, hike (10.4 miles round-trip; 2,200 feet of elevation gain) producing yet another happy day in the woods. Today’s outing was enhanced by the chance to play in the snow in delightfully crystalline weather.

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon
To Wagner Butte and back!

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