Bald Mountain is one of many peaks inside the Kalmiopsis Wilderness
. Bald Mountain is one of the best known and most visited summits because it is located along the Illinois River Trail that connects the Illinois Valley
on the east with Agness
on the west side of the wilderness. The Kalmiopsis Wilderness is administered by the Rogue Siskiyou Wilderness National Forest
. The entire Kalmiopsis Wilderness was burned in the 2002 Biscuit Fire
The Illinois River Trail system parallels the north side of the Illinois River from Briggs Creek on the east, through the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, and then it meets the Rogue River in Agness, Oregon in the west. The Illinois River has been designated as a National Wild and Scenic River
and is famous for its salmon and steelhead fishing along with white water rafting. Bald Mountain is roughly in the middle of this trail. The trail climbs over Bald Mountain because the Illinois River Canyon is so steep, remote, and remarkably untouched by man’s activities.
Bald Mountain is an impressive obstacle on the Illinois River Trail with the trial climbing from Pine Flat (elevation 680 ft) on the southeast side to the summit (elevation 3,975 ft) and then back down to 279 ft elevation at Silver Creek in the west. This trail is steep on both sides gaining about 3,000 ft in 3 miles from either direction. Bald Mountain was somewhat spared from the Biscuit Fire. There are still some Old Growth fir trees near the summit. There are still several camping spots near the summit that look inviting.
Bald Mountain is not a technical climb, but it is a long day hike on trails. Elk are in this area and if you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of one. From the summit of Bailey Mountain the views are limited because all the trees are not burned off. There are good views to the west and ok views to the north. There are great views on the trails hiking up to the summit in all directions.
There are 3 different trailheads available to access Bald Mountain. There are also variations on the routes if you want to take an extended backpacking trip through the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.
Option 1: Briggs Creek Trailhead. Access is from Highway 199 (Redwood Highway) in Selma. This is about milepost 18.8 from Grants Pass and about 10 miles north of Cave Junction. Turn west on Illinois River Road at the blinking yellow light at the main and only intersection in Selma. Zero your odometer here. It will take about an hour to get to the trailhead.. The road is paved for quite a ways. At mile 1.4 you pass the Deer Creek Ranch and the pavement narrows, at 6.1 miles the pavement ends, at 6.4 miles the pavement begins again, stay left at 6.7, at 7.7 pass the Six Mile picnic area, at 8.8 pass Store Gulch, at 10.7 stay right. A left here will take you across the Illinois River and to Pearsoll Peak
. The pavement ends for good here, at 15.5 pass Miami Bar, at 16.3 you will see private property on both sides of the road (don’t disturb the residents), at 16.8 the road turns sharply to the right and goes up steeply, at 17.3 go left down into a logged over area, at 17.9 you reach the Briggs Creek Trailhead with picnic tables and a nice vault toilet. 2WD is ok on this road, but there are potholes that need to be avoided. Refer to the Briggs Creek Route for trail info.
Option 2: 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. Refer to the Silver Creek Route for trail info.
Option 3: Oak Flat Trailhead. From Highway 101 in Gold Beach, Oregon, take Jerry's Flat Road (County road 595 which turns into Forest Service road 33) up the south side of the Rogue River almost to Agness. Turn right on Oak Flat Road (County road 450) just after crossing the bridge over the Illinois River and follow to trailhead (left side) on the backside of Oak Flat Campground
There is no Red Tape for this hike. The Northwest Forest Pass is not required anywhere in the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest.
Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest
With all this wilderness and national forest land it is surprising that there aren’t many campgrounds nearby. On the way to the Briggs Creek Trailhead you pass a couple of small campgrounds on the access road from Selma. The Silver Creek Trailhead accessed from Merlin and Taylor Creek has several campgrounds. The Oak Flat Trailhead is in the campground at Oak Flat. There are lots of options available depending on the trailhead you select, including camping at all the trailheads.
National Forest Campgrounds
are listed here, some of them in the Wild Rivers Ranger District are quite a ways from the trailhead.
There are several places to camp while back packing along the trail including at the summit. There is no water available at the summit, but you cross many year round streams on all the trails leading to the summit except the one that starts near the Silver Creek Trailhead.
When to Climb
The best time to climb Bald Mountain is spring, summer, and fall. This area gets a surprising amount of snow and the access roads may be covered as early as November and as late as April. Check with the forest service to see if the road is closed.
The mountain is not very accessible in the Winter. During the Summer and Fall, the area is subject to thunderstorms and you should check the weather forecast before hiking. The closest towns are Cave Junction, Oregon
and Gold Beach