Hike to Hobart Bluff

Rate this Adventure 2.5 miles 200 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Chaney Swiney

An easy along the PCT to a perfect view of the Rogue Valley, with vistas of nearby Cascade volcanos and a trail that leads through three of the ecosystems that give Cascade–Siskiyou National Monument its amazing biodiversity.

Hobart Bluff is part of the Western Cascades, a range of weathered volcanic mountains that are much older than the High Cascades that most people think of today, the range of Shasta, Rainier, and Hood. These mountains are shorter as a result of the work of time and usually have summits wrapped in forest, but not Hobart Bluff. Here, the igneous rock outcrop stands above the manzanita, void of trees save for a few hardy junipers. The short hike to the summit affords marvelous views of the Rogue Valley below, with the town Ashland readily visible to the west.

The first mile of the hike rolls up and down along the Pacific Crest Trail, heading north from a clearing into a forest of Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, and Incense Cedar. Roughly a half-mile in, the trail hits a low saddle and passes through an oak woodland, a great place to look for galls - the homes of wasp larvae implanted on the trees (they're usually brown balls, but sometimes are a spotty red). It's also a great place to look up, because the bluff that stands prominently to the north is Hobart, and soon you'll be on top.

Shortly after the saddle, the forest gives way to an environment more akin to the high desert, with open grassy slopes, clusters of manzanitas, and juniper trees. After roughly a mile of hiking, a marked side trail turns left and heads for the bluff. Most of the elevation climb happens here and the spur trail is almost entirely unshaded, so it can get a little toasty hiking up here in the summer. Eventually, the trail winds up to a level patch of rock, but this is not the true summit. Keep heading southwest to reach the top, dropping briefly into a thickly vegetated saddle before emerging on the open and panoramic high point.

Good views abound on clear days. To the west and north lies the Bear Creek arm of the Rogue Valley, flanked by the Cascades on the right and the Siskiyous on the left (hence the name of the monument you're in!). Mt. Ashland stands tall nearly due west, marked by ski slopes and topped with the soccer-ball-esque radar station. To the north, Mount McLoughlin peers over the ridges, the highest point in Jackson County at 9,495 feet in elevation, nearly 4,000 higher than Hobart Bluff. To the southwest, Pilot Rock juts into the sky, and in the south Mount Shasta rises high above everything else, high enough to peek (or perhaps "peak") over the ridges around Soda Mountain.

This is a great hike any time of year, but winter can be hit or miss depending on access issues caused by snowpack on the road. Spring, summer, and fall each have their own charm, and there is always something interesting to see along the trail. As alluded to above, Cascade–Siskiyou National Monument was the first to be protected solely on the strength of its biodiversity. Here, at the convergence of two mountain ranges (the Cascades and Siskiyous), a variety of habitats and environments exist in a proximity that is hard to find elsewhere, harboring a spectacular array of plants and animals. The forest you'll hike through is home to Douglas squirrels, fence lizards, rubber boas, bobcats, coyotes, great gray owls, and much more. Bring a field guide or two with you to turn this relatively short hike into a longer exploration of the natural environment.

If the hike has you hungry for a celebratory treat, head back to Highway 66 and drive a few miles east to Green Springs Inn and enjoy one of their delicious pies.

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