Silver Creek Trailhead. To find the trailhead from Interstate 5 take the Merlin exit, exit number 61, about 4 miles north of Grants Pass. Take this exit into Merlin that is located about 3.5 miles from I-5. Continue straight through Merlin towards Galice. Enjoy the views of the Rogue River and the famous Hellgate Canyon. About 8.5 miles past Merlin is a road that has various names, but predominantly it is the Briggs Canyon Road that goes up Taylor Creek. This is the paved one lane forest road 25. It is a one lane road, but it is wide enough for two cars to pass in most places. Turn left and follow the road up the canyon. You will pass several campgrounds and trailheads. About 1.0 mile past Big Pine Campground or 13.0 miles from the Merlin/Galice Road turn right on road 2512 towards Sam Brown campground. The single lane road is still paved but turns to gravel just past the Sam Brown campground. Stay on this main road as it climbs up to Chrome Ridge. This road is easy 2WD, but may have snow at times on the roadway. Soon you will notice remnants of the 500,000 acre Biscuit Fire of 2002. Continue up the road, but watch for falling snags and rocks that periodically roll down the road cuts onto the roadway. At about 8.2 miles from road 25 there is a bit of an intersection. Road 090 goes to the right, the main road continues straight ahead and drops down along Silver Creek, and an unmarked road to the left goes to York Butte. Take the center road down Silver Creek. The first couple of miles of this road aren’t bad, but it quickly deteriorates. I’ve seen trees across the road and large rocks from the road cut blocking the road. You should be able to get about 3.0 miles down the road and if you are lucky you can get down about 5.5 miles before the road has been intentionally blocked by a large berm.
The route to the Bald Mountain summit from the Silver Creek Trailhead is the shortest and easiest route. It is also closed during the winter because the access road is blocked by snow several miles before you get to the trailhead. It is also the least scenic route to the summit.
Depending on how far you can drive down the access road, your overall hike could be anywhere from 5 to 10 miles. Once you find the end of where you can drive along the road along Silver Creek, park and start hiking down the road. On the topo for this route, waypoints BaldT1, BaldT2, and BaldT3 are all good places to move off the road and get on the trail. BaldT1 is the berm at the end of the road. It isn’t hard to find the trail as it parallels the road.
Follow the trail westward towards the summit. From the berm at the end of the road, it is only about 2.4 miles and 1,075 ft of elevation gain to the summit. The trail is easy to follow and it will be difficult to get lost unless it is real foggy or a white out. Just before the summit there is an unsigned fork with the right fork actually going to the highpoint. The left fork goes to a campsite and then continues another 16 miles towards Agness.
Depending on how far back up the road that you had to park, it may add 5.0 miles to your hike with maybe an additional 500 ft of elevation gain on the way back to get back up to your car. Round trip from the berm takes about 2.5 hours. It isn’t very scenic on this route because most of the trail is through burned over areas that are now covered with brush. There are no views of the Illinois River and very limited views of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.
The 10 essentials are always required. Make sure you have a map. A GPS is always handy. In the summer, this hike can be quite warm and unfortunately there are no easy water sources. This is a dayhike and cell phones don’t work well in the wilderness area. Mine did work from the summit of Bald Mountain though.
"After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, which is the most horrible thing in the world."
--Oscar Wilde on Absinthe