I started at 4:30AM from Medford. Arrived at the trailhead a little after 7:00AM. The road is paved all the way to the last 1.5 miles to the TH. The gravel road to the TH is nicely graded with no problems.
The Gearhart Trail is nicely maintained with a nice even grade and has forest cover all the way to the saddle. The Palisades are very interesting and are an easy walk from the TH. I just wanted to start climbing boulders, but forced myself to keep to the trail. After the Palisades the trail decends about 100ft and then continues through the forest for several more miles. I never saw any trails leaving the main trail and it is easy to follow.
When you get to the obvious saddle, bear to your left cross country through the short trees and up to the ridgeline. Make a mental note where you are when you get to the ridge so you can find it on your return trip. Once at the ridge line you still have more than a mile to go to reach the summit. In following the ridge line, there is one area where you have to do a little boulder hopping to get around one of the rocky areas. Generally stay to the left of the rocks on the ridge and work your way through the trees. Eventually you will see the highpoint and continue working your way up the ridge. The highpoint is all the way to the end of the ridge where there is a Benchmark on a rock and also a Witness Marker.
Enjoy the view. Mt. Shasta, Mt. Mcloughlin, Mt. Thielsen, Mt. Scott, and I think I could see snow capped South Sister peaking out from behind another butte.
When returning down the ridge you need to find the spot where you came onto the ridge. I passed my spot and went another .4 mile before I noticed, I had to bushwhack east about .5 mile to pick up the trail. Good thing my GPS worked and I marked several waypoints on my way up.
The short hike up to the lookout is worth the view. There is a scramble up the rocks to get to the lookout. The lookout is unmanned, but you can climb the stairs and get onto the roof if you want.
Not an inspiring peak to look at, but the views are fantastic. One of the top 100 peaks in Oregon and also #10 most prominent peak in Oregon.
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