February 17, 2007 I needed to get out of the house and work on my conditioning. I live in Medford, Oregon and it has been raining and snowing in the mountains for weeks. At least it seemed like a long winter any way. I decided Collings Mountain would be a good effort for today. Thankfully, it looked like it was going to be a nice clear day with blue skies.
The last time I hiked Collings Mountain I had seen a bear foraging for acorns and also a big gray owl. I had gotten a late start that day and was returning in the dark with my healamp when a big owl flew across my path. Incredilby, it made no noise. It was like a ghost flying through the trees of the forest canopy. I was hoping to see more wildlife today.
I parked at the south trailhead at the Watkins Campground and headed up the trail. This is a good trail and remarkably wasn’t at all muddy in spite of all the rain we have had recently. The trail climbed steadily and it was unseasonably warm. Soon I dropped my pack and took off my long sleeve shirt because I was already sweating pretty good. I made it up to the saddle south of the actual summit in 1.25 hours and headed off into the brush to find the summit. The summit is covered with downed trees and brush and there are no views at all.
After wandering around the summit for all of 2 minutes, I headed back to the trail. I continued on the trail to the Grouse Creek drainage and the north trailhead. Time passed quickly and soon I was descending along the creek. I stopped to see the Bigfoot Trap and passed 3 other hikers who had come up just to see this oddity. I reached the north end of the Colling Mountain Trail about 3 hours after I started and I sat down there and ate my lunch.
Since I was out to get some exercise, I decided to head back to my car back over the trail I had just come over. The “shortcut” is to walk about 3 miles along the lake back to the car. Walking along Grouse Creek is the most scenic part of the whole hike because of the creek and some old growth trees. Very peaceful and scenic.
Hiking back up Grouse Creek is a challenge because it seems to be steeper than coming up from the other end. Nevertheless, I kept going and in about an hour I was back up to the ridgeline. I followed the trail along the ridge, crossed back over to the east side of Collings Mountain and arrived back down at my car about 6 hours after I started. I had hiked 14.6 miles and climbed just under 4,000ft in elevation gain.