I thought I'd put together a trip report for this peak since it was the finishing act of a three day weekend trip, done by Bob Bolton and myself.
Grayback is the highpoint of Josephine county and due to that fact it was included on our agenda where we wanted to "sweep" the county highpoints of southwestern Oregon.
I met up with Bob, late thursday evening at his home in Vancouver Washington and at the late hour of 7 pm we were heading south in his Toyota 4Runner. Not far from Corvallis Oregon, we made a detour and picked up Mary's Peak, the highpoint of Benton county, hitting the summit just as the sun dropped over the western horizon.
From Mary's Peak we continued on south until somewhere around 2 a.m., we found the road off of I-5 that we were looking for. We finally made it to a spot, where we camped for the night as our intent was to climb (hike) Mt. Bolivar, the high point of Coos county, the next morning. When we awoke, it was raining so we did Bolivar in the rain. A nice hike but no view awaited us atop Bolivar and so we made a hasty descent and were soon on our way to do the Curry county highpoint, Brandy Peak.
We did that one in the rain as well so other than slipping and sliding around on our cross country ascent and descent, there isn't much noteworthy to report on that one. Finally, after a lengthy detour we made it back to I-5 and headed south for Grants Pass where we had dinner at a Wendy's there. Our next objective, Grayback Peak was only an hour away. Bob has put together this road description which I will share here:
"At Grants Pass, we drove south on US199 and turned left on SR238 toward Murphy and Applegate. Just before crossing to the north side of the Applegate River at Applegate, we turned right on the Thompson Creek Road and drove into Rogue River National Forest where the road became FR10. We turned right on FR1005 and drove to the end looking for desirable camping spots. The nearest spot to the TH was down about 0.5 mile where we found some flat ground. The weather had improved tremendously, so we left the rain fly off the tent to dry out and slept under the open mesh ceiling, enjoying the light of the full moon."
As Bob mentioned, we made camp, just off the road to the O'Brien (upper) TH and had a great nights sleep. The O'Brien creek was nearby and made that delightful creek noise that helped lull us off
to sleep. Awakening to the sound of birds, lots and lots of birds (which Bob could identify), we were soon through with a simple breakfast and parked at the TH, ready to hit the trail. I signed us into the register located there and saw that there had been just a few parties so far in this year and that there had been no one for a couple of weeks. The trail takes off in earnest and the first mile is a good way to get a sweat going before it levels off at a little stream crossing. Just beyond the stream crossing is a sign (at 6200 ft) denoting the trail and the distance you have to look forward to. A use trail to the Krause cabin goes off to the left and within a quarter mile is the cabin that is kept open to the public as a shelter. We poked around in the cabin for a bit and then headed up to the trail.
The trail became an obstacle course as dozens of trees were down across it so where the trail made a switchback at the 5700 foot mark, we quit the trail and headed cross country through brush and rocks until we reached the summit. On the summit we had a neat 360° view from Mt. McLoughlin to Mt. Shasta, and of the northern CA ranges. Sweet indeed. Especially nice for us was no rain, after having been shut out the previous day in Coos and Curry counties.
On the way down, we tried another route and soon found this to be a mistake as there were dozens of trees down everywhere. Evidently, sometime during the winter, heavy rains and winds had hit this area and literally hundreds of trees paid the ultimate price and created an obstacle course that made progress difficult. We finally made it back to the cross country route we had used on our ascent and just reversed it to get back to the TH. About a quarter mile from the trailhead, we met three others who were out for the day and hoped to summit. We shared our information and saved them enough time that they could summit and return to their vehicle before dark.
Time wise, you could do this hike in about 3 or 4 hours round trip. A nice hike in good weather with 2500 feet of elevation gain. We spent about an hour on the summit and just really enjoyed it, one of those perfect days. After all, why just climb up and then turn around and go back down, all too often that is the only choice due to the weather but when the weather is great, enjoy it.