Midsummer flowers on Soda Mountain

I promised a post on the hike I didn’t get around to blogging before we left town for a week, so here it is. It was a relatively short, relatively level walk on a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail that traverses the northeastern slope of Soda Mountain near Ashland, Oregon. This section of the PCT is not known for its scenery – through-hikers usually just trudge through without stopping – but its mix of meadow and forest, with occasional views out to Ashland and the rest of the distant Bear Creek Valley, has a quiet charm about it. Streamlets abound in the meadows in early summer, and the mid-season flower displays can be spectacular, especially on one particular rocky knoll about a third of a mile in. It’s a great introduction to hiking in the the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument for first-time visitors, and a relaxing afternoon stroll for old-timers like us who had just recently made the much stiffer climb up Grayback Mountain.

We parked the Bolt around 1:00 PM at the Hobart Bluff trailhead on the Soda Mountain Road, off Oregon Highway 66 at the Greensprings Summit, and headed south. The trailhead meadow was a yellow carpet of woolly sunflower under power lines; the knoll was spectacular, with woolly sunflower, paintbrush, buckwheat, and many other flowers covering nearly every square inch of ground beneath big views down the valley. After that, the flower displays were quieter but still lovely: hyacinths, columbine, honeysuckles, and many other plants in the woods; yampah and owls clover in the dry meadows; monkeyflowers and heals-all near the one small pond the trail passes in this stretch. We turned around at the saddle under Little Pilot Peak, a little less than three miles in, where there is a nice view south to Mt Shasta.

Clockwise from upper left: owl’s clover, Oregon geranium, honeysuckle, stonecrop.

It was 5:00 when we reached the car, so we headed for the Greensprings Inn, a small, old mountain restaurant and lodge a few miles east of the Greensprings Summit that has long been known among locals for the quality of its food. There is not much more to say. Enjoy the pictures.

Pilot Rock from the knoll. The predominant flowers are woolly sunflower, paintbrush, and buckwheat.

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