Josephine County Highpoint Trip Report

Grayback Mountain

Date: July 30, 2007
Author: Peter Maurer

For my first foray into Oregon on my way to the far northwest counties of California, I wasn't as prepared as I would have liked but successfully bagged the summit. Armed with only 1970s-era Rogue River National Forest map and my recollections of prior trip reports, I headed south from Applegate on Thompson Creek Road. After 7 miles, the county road becomes a forest road and the numbering starts over. A short ways past mile 4, the road crests the ridge, pavement ends, and two gravel roads take off to the right. Take the right-hand road, marked FS1005. At 0.3 mile, bear left at a fork, 2.2 miles go straight (right). The good gravel road gradually narrows and gets rougher but is passable by a passenger vehicle and ends at the trail head after 3.8 miles.

I had planned to do this more or less as a trail run, knowing that I would need to walk a lot of the steeper parts. This happened immediately as the first mile of the trail is very steep! After crossing O'Brian Creek, the grade lessens and is much more enjoyable, with switchbacks up to a junction, signed "Boundary Trail" after 2.3 miles. At this point I looked to the north and saw two prominent open knobs and, thinking the higher of the two was the summit, promptly headed off along the trial leading north. Another mile had me cresting out on that knob, only to look back to the south to see the actual peak behind me. I backtracked down the trail to a gap (possibly "Windy Gap"?) and then angled off through the woods toward the summit. This actually worked out pretty well, since there was less downfall and bushwhacking. I did end up climbing a couple of false summits thinking I was at the top but still made it to the top in about 1-1/2 hours.

After signing the register and enjoying the view, I headed straight down the east side. This would have been a bear trying to climb straight up, with lots of downed trees and limbs to scramble over. I met the trail and ran back down, returning in just under 2-1/2 hours for the round trip, including the bonus peak. From there it was on to Grants Pass in search of one of Oregon's famous micro-breweries.