|Agency:||USDA Forest Service|
|Location:||About 10 miles off Highway 140 between Medford and Klamath Falls.|
|Distance:||10 miles (round trip)|
|High Point:||9,495 feet|
|Season:||Late summer to mid-Autumn, depending on snow.|
A lot of people lately seem to be indicating that this trail is really, really difficult, so I felt like I should write a preamble. If you plan to hike Mount McLoughlin, know that it is a physically strenous undertaking. This is the highest mountain between the Three Sisters and Mt. Shasta. Bring a GPS and/or maps, know how to use them. Know where you are starting and finishing and let someone know when you'll be back home. It's about 5000 feet in elevation higher at the summit than at the trailhead, which means probably 15 degrees F cooler, or more. There can be fine weather at the trailhead, while heavy fog and frost reigns at the top. Be prepared!
Mt. McLoughlin rises 9,495 feet above sea level. Although its eastern base is in Klamath County and the Winema National Forest, most of it (including the summit) are in Jackson County and the Rogue River National Forest. Mt. McLoughlin covers an area of over 20 square miles and it comprises an estimated volume of about 4 cubic miles. It is the highest peak in southern Oregon, and the highest point in the Cascade Range between the Three Sisters and Mt. Shasta.
After leaving the parking lot, you pass through a forest composed largely of Shasta red fir and mountain hemlock, with scattered lodgepole pine and other trees; manzanita and other shrubs form the understory. As you climb above the forested slopes, you see only the hardy whitebark pine -- a stunted, subalpine species. Although deer, elk and bear occur on the mountain's lower slopes, most of the animals you're likely to see are smaller: Clark's nutcracker (a grey/black/white bird), golden-mantled ground squirrel (common at the summit), and if you're lucky, pine marten (a shy member of the weasel family).
The 5.5-mile long trail to the summit winds through rocky terrain. In many places it is difficult to see and follow. After it leaves the Pacific Crest Trail behind (at a point about a mile from the parking lot), the trail ascends through a boulder-strewn forest; watch for blazed trees. Above timberline piled-up rock cairns mark the route to the ridge-top summit route...along the ridge, the trail is marked by the old Forest Service telephone poles which lead to the top.
Due to steep slopes, poor footing and coarse bare rock, horses are not recommended for the Mt. McLoughlin Trail above its junction with the Pacific Crest Trail.
Mt. McLoughlin is located within Sky Lakes Wilderness. Motorized vehicles and bicycles are prohibited within the Wilderness and groups sizes are limited to 12 people or less. Please observe the "pack it out" ethic (and perhaps you might even pick up other people's litter as you come down)...take only pictures, leave only footprints.
Turn north onto Forest Road 3650, about 2 miles east of Fish Lake on Highway 140. Follow Road 3650 about 2 miles, until a side road leads off to the left. Continue a short distance to the trailhead.
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