Anderson Camp (Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness) 01-Jun-2018

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon

The Forest Service styles the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail (USFS #1470) as the primary route through the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness.  This may be true in concept but, in practice, they seem to have given little, if any, attention to its maintenance.  We have been exploring it in sections for the last few years and have found tread ranging from good (from its southern trailhead to Abbott Butte Lookout) to non-existent (between Falcon Butte and Abbott Butte).  It would be the obvious thru-hike for this wilderness if one could trust the tread (and also find water sources).  But our explorations continue, this time between Anderson Mountain and Hershberger Mountain, with a visit to Anderson Camp, Anderson Prairie, and the site of the Anderson Mountain fire lookout.

Because the #1470 is a linear trail, hiking it in sections without a shuttle requires some craftiness. I (The LovedOne was mulching some library finances) left the mountain bike at the head of Forest Road (FR) 6515, then drove down and parked the truck at the trailhead for the Anderson Camp Trail (USFS #1075) on FR 6515 at 4,950 feet (the #1075 does not start on FR 090 as shown on the 2008 Tiller Ranger District map or the Forest Service topo map).

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
The Anderson Camp Trail trailhead (arrow) on FR 6515

There used to be a trail sign here, but some douchebag stole it, leaving only the now blank notice board. The Forest Service advises that this trail receives limited maintenance and thus may be encumbered with brush and downed logs. The tread was faint from the start, as I worked my way up past an old register,

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Remembrance of things past

through two short switchbacks (very easy to miss the turns on these),

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
The trail after the second switchback

through towering cedar trees,

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Coming to the large grassy meadow

and out into a large, grassy meadow where the corn lilies were just starting to emerge.

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
The meadow at Anderson Camp

Anderson Camp, a late 19th-early 20th century sheepherder’s camp, commemorates Frank Anderson, an early sheepherder (it’s also been called Minter’s Camp). Back in the day, a thousand or more sheep used to graze in this meadow and on the prairie along the divide just above. It was too early for many wildflowers but this is apparently a prime area for them in season (see Elizabeth Horn’s 2006 Oregon’s Best Wildflower Hikes—Southwest Region).

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Anderson Camp (c1900)
Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Anderson Camp today

I’d lost the trail when it entered the meadow, but by staying on its south side, I was able to wander uphill cross-country and reacquire the #1075 just before it reached the divide, after passing a Wilderness boundary sign. On top, immediately to the left (south) of where the #1075 meets the Divide Trail, I found three old wooden signs: one for the #1075, one for the #1470, and one pointing to Abbott Butte and Hershberger Lookout. From there, I went south on the #1470 (visible in the forest, non-existent in the meadows), across Anderson Prairie (old Frank got to name all kinds of places),

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Anderson Prairie along the Rogue-Umpqua Divide

which provided one of the few expansive views along this stretch of the #1470,

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Abbott Butte (A) and Elephant Head (E) to the south
Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Mount Thielsen to the northeast
Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Acker Rock far to the northwest

and up to the old fire lookout site atop Anderson Mountain. A 30-foot pole live-in tower was built here in 1933, abandoned in 1958, and destroyed by burning some time after that.

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Anderson Camp Lookout (1946)
Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Looking north from Anderson Camp Lookout (1934)

Today, only the tower’s footings and some of its wooden support legs remain. The trees have grown up over the intervening years and now its view is gone too.

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Footing and charred support legs, Anderson Camp Lookout
Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Footing and leg attachment detail, Anderson Camp Lookout

From the old lookout site, I went back across the prairie to the trail junction and started following the #1470 north. I was very pleasantly surprised to find this section of the trail pretty easy to follow – it was obvious in the forest and along the rocky sections and vague only those few times it crossed a small meadow. There was ravel on the tread – it obviously hadn’t been maintained for ages – but no large blowdown or encroaching brush.

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
The Divide Trail crosses a rocky section

Much of the journey north was through the forest, but there were spots where a view emerged. It was also possible to see the rust brown crowns of trees burned in the 2017 Pup Fire (one of the High Cascade Complex Fires).

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Mount Bailey (b) and Mount Thielsen through a break in the trees

Further north, the trail parallels an open rocky ridge,

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
The Divide Trail reaches a rocky ridge

and I went to the top of it for a view of Highrock Mountain to the northwest,

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Highrock Mountain

and of Hershberger Mountain to the north, with its historic fire lookout still intact. The Forest Service worked hard to protect this old wooden structure from the ravages of the 2017 Pup Fire, which was burning all around it at one time.

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Hershberger Mountain fire lookout (arrow), with fire-burned trees on the slopes below it

The trail continued along open, rocky ground,

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Along the Divide Trail through a field of small-flower Blue-eyed Mary
Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
Small-flower Blue-eyed Mary

and – sooner than expected thanks to the good condition of this section of the Divide Trail – I arrived at a junction where the Pup Prairie Trail (USFS #1434) goes off to the northwest and an unsigned use trail goes east to connect with FR 525 (where I’d stashed the bike). The #1470 from here north to Hole-in-the-Ground is in the footprint of the Pup Fire; we were lucky to have hiked some of this now-burned piece before the fire. This was a short hike (4.8 miles; 1,600 feet of elevation gain), but I’d allowed a lot of time for it not knowing the condition of the trail between Anderson Mountain and FR 525. But, thanks to the good tread, I’d arrived at the bike earlier than expected. It only took a second to realize what needed to be done. I hopped on the bike, zoomed down to the truck, and blazed down forest roads and Highway 230 to Beckie’s Cafe in Union Creek, where I acquired two slices of their chocolate cream pie, before heading home to surprise The LovedOne with this sugary deliciousness! Hiking would be hard if it were not for pie…

Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
More calories than this hike justified, but SO good…
Anderson Camp Trail Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness Oregon
My track (red) along the #1075 & #1470, with the return by bike (black track) along FR 6515

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2 thoughts on “Anderson Camp (Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness) 01-Jun-2018

  1. If you ever need help eating pie, let us know! The key is that you had deprived yourself of nutrition and the pie was just a fulfillment of that deprivation……at least that is how we excuse it for ourselves.

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    1. Yes, yes, the deprivation inflicted by a five mile hike demands pie! Or, we could have had two pieces of pie each but our amazing willpower held us to only one. I love rationalizations…as long as they lead to pie.

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