Jackson County High Point Trip Report

Mount McLoughlin (9,495 ft)

Date: August 16, 2003
Author: Adam Helman

Although this is a popular climb, it is easy to lose the trail higher up. The following is a guide to various portions of the standard route.

From the trailhead to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail the going is gentle. The same is true for the one-half mile portion along the PCT followed by the climb through the forest to about 7,000 feet.

At this point the trail steepens through prime coniferous forest, yet is easy to follow. Starting at 7,600 feet the trail begins a series of switchbacks, under thinning forest canopy, until treeline at about 8,200 feet. The trail is sometimes difficult to follow - some rock markings may assist.

One is now climbing the southeast ridge of the mountain. A fork in the trail exists - the left fork trending just south of the ridge in a westerly direction; the right fork gaining the ridge itself, climbing to some 8,700 feet whence the remaining 750 vertical feet of effort is apparent.

I originally took the left fork, unaware at the time that a better option existed as the right fork. Soon I found myself bouldering, needlessly, and realized that something was very wrong with my chosen route. I eventually intersected the "correct" route at 8,700 feet by simply heading upslope in the obvious direction of the summit, northwest.

The fork has since been marked by yours truly, while on descent, by an obvious rock blockade placed in the left-trending path immediately after the junction. Turn right and head up the ridge!

For the final 750 vertical feet, do yourself a favor and avoid climbing up the braided set of use paths heading upslope. Instead, go straight up along the ridge, preferring to walk on rock and pumice than the dirt and scree. On descent on may certainly negotiate the scree, as the slippage at each step is then in the desired direction of travel!

The highest point is hidden some dozen paces beyond the apparent summit one sees on ascending the final few hundred feet. A destroyed brick structure may lie higher than the highest natural point to its northwest. However by our club RULES, one need not touch this object to claim the county.

Some photographs of Mount McLoughlin are available.

I signed the trailhead register at 6:13 a.m. and was down at 1:19 p.m. for a round trip time of 7.1 hours - including a one hour summit siesta and a four hour ascent.