After a month on a raft, we needed a short, but interesting, hike to get our legs back and a 5 mile, 1,000 foot of gain out-and-back stroll to Hinkle Lake seemed ideal for that purpose. The 425-acre Hinkle Lake Botanical Area is located in the headwaters of the Steve Fork of the Applegate River, just north of the Red Buttes Wilderness. It’s in Oregon but just barely. The meadow system surrounding the lake is one of the largest in the Red Buttes region and hosts several rare and endemic plant species. We didn’t see any of those, mainly because our full attention was captured by the wildflower-laden meadows around the lake.
We proceeded as if we were going to the trailhead for Fir Glade and Azalea Lake but parked short of there at the junction of Forest Road (FR) 1040 and FR 1040-800. Then we walked up FR 800 to FR 850 and followed that old road up past the Arnold Mine and on to the lake. The Forest Service has installed a stout gate just past the lower mine workings and this seems to have cut down on the number of irresponsible (aka douchebag) off-road vehicle users terrorizing the meadows around the lake. The old road passes through some small meadows before cresting the ridge and dropping down to the lake. The lake is pretty but not very deep. It also seems to be losing a eutrophication battle with the cattails that now encroach on almost half of it. We would later learn that Lake Peak, which rises above Hinkle Lake to the west, was officially renamed by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names in 1998 in honor of late 19th/early 20th century miner and settler Ezra Arnold. The current USGS map for this area, which was prepared in 1996, doesn’t show this change.
We continued on past the lake for a short distance to Kendall (or Kendall’s) Cabin situated at the bottom of another large, California corn lily covered meadow. The cabin’s walls are six-inch thick log slices (with prominent saw marks) chinked with metal bands. This hewn-log structure was supposedly built by local hunters in the 1950s with an early-style power saw.
On the way back from the lake, we made a small detour to visit the Arnold Mine. Claims here were first staked by Ezra Arnold (namesake of Arnold Mountain) in 1914-1915 and subsequently owned and mined by his descendants into the 1990s. The ore came from a small, high-grade ($20 per ton) quartz vein deposit situated in meta-sedimentary rock. The mine consisted of two tunnels and an exploratory trench and was reported to have produced up to 600 ounces of gold by 1940. Serious production ended around 1957. Down the road from the mine itself are the collapsed remains of a small mill that had two stamps and amalgamation plates.HOME