Eagle Mountain is one of many peaks in or near the Kalmiopsis Wilderness
. Eagle Mountain is located less than a half mile east of the wilderness boundary on the Josephine/Curry County line. Access to the area is from the east side of the wilderness and Eight Dollar Road. The Kalmiopsis Wilderness is administered by the Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest
. The entire Kalmiopsis Wilderness was burned in the 2002 Biscuit Fire
Since the wilderness has had nearly all vegetation completely burned off, the views of the unusual and complex geologic formations have improved. There are a few scattered stands of trees in some canyons and along a few ridgelines. To me it looks like 90% of the trees burned in the 2002 fire and their charred trunks are still standing. Today, the brush and native shrubs are making a comeback, but the trees are struggling to reseed themselves. I see very few tree starts on my hikes in this area. The knobcone pine areas have small tree starts because they have a unique method of reseeding themselves after a forest fire.
Eagle Mountain is not a technical climb. As a bonus summit, Whetstone Butte is a short side excursion near the trail. See the route report for details. Other peaks in the area include Fiddler Mountain (drive up), Hungry Hill (almost drive up), Bailey Mountain
, Canyon Peak, and Josephine Mountain. You can continue on the trail past Eagle Mountain to Pearsoll Peak
and beyond, but that would be a multiday hike or require another car be left at another trailhead.
You will not see the famous Kalmiopsis leachiana, a small shrub which resembles a miniature rhododendron along the trail. It is the oldest member of the heath family, and the only species in its genus. The wilderness was named for this species and is found naturally only in this wilderness. You have to hike into the wilderness to a few select locations to find the plant. I have seen them on near Bailey Mountain and Big Craggies
From the summit of Eagle Mountain, you can see most of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness
and nearly all the named peaks in and around the wilderness. Including Pearsoll Peak
, Big Craggies
, and Bailey Mountain
. During the winter, the area is covered in snow and is not easily accessible.
The Trailhead for Bailey Mountain is easy to find. Find Highway 199 (Redwood Highway) between Grants Pass and Cave Junction. At Milepost 24, which is 24 miles south of Grants Pass and 4 miles north of Cave Junction, turn west onto Eight Dollar Road. This is well signed and indicates the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area is 17 miles from this intersection.
Zero your odometer here and start heading west on this paved road. At 1.0 the pavement narrows, at 2.7 cross the famous green steel bridge over the Illinois River. This green bridge has been the sight of many logging protests and some violence. At 3.1 the pavement ends at the Josephine Campground. At 3.7 stay right and then just stay on the good main road for several miles as it climbs up over 4,000 ft. At 14.3 go right and ignore several spur roads that branch off the main road. At 14.9 miles arrive at the Onion Camp trailhead on the left. There is a nice new vault toilet at the trailhead.
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
Wild Rivers Ranger District
Joel King, District Ranger
2164 N.E. Spalding Avenue
Grants Pass, OR 97526
Phone Grants Pass (Galice):
Voice: (541) 471-6500
Fax : (541) 471-6514
26568 Redwood Hwy
Cave Junction, OR 97523
Phone Cave Junction (Illinois Valley):
Voice: (541) 592-4000
Fax : (541) 592-4010
TTY: (541) 592-4011
With all this wilderness and national forest land it is surprising that there aren’t many campgrounds nearby. You pass a small campground on the access road just above the green bridge. Otherwise, most people just find a logging spur or camp at the trailheads.
National Forest Campgrounds
are listed here, some of them in the Wild Rivers Ranger District are quite a ways from the trailhead.
The trailhead could serve as a campsite and the summit is flat enough to bivy also.
When to Climb
The best time to climb Eagle Mountain is spring, summer, and fall. This area gets a surprising amount of snow and the access road 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 town is Cave Junction, Oregon