Warner Peak to the south as seen from the road that approaches the headquarters. I just barely beat some nasty weather on this one. This is on the east side of the Hart range.
Oregon is a diverse state and many of its special attractions are off the beaten track. In an area, which I think should be called the "Outback", is a fascinating area known as the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge
. It is a remarkable area in the high desert of south central Oregon.
While the range that Warner Peak is located in is called the Hart Mountain range, a huge fault block, with the west side being very preciptous and the eastern side less so. Warner Peak is the highest point by 307 feet over Hart Mountain which is 7710 feet high to the south. I find the naming a little strange but perhaps Hart Mountain was thought to be the highest point originally.
The refuge was established in 1936 by President Roosevelt and a good history of this event can be read here
More information on the Refuge can be found here
If you have a desire to go to this area, be sure and read the linked resources. Another interesting story is about how volunteers have
been working to get rid of over 240 miles of fences that were in the Refuge area. That information can be found via this LINK
. A brief summary can be found HERE
A map of the Refuge can be found HERE
Warner Peak is one of Oregon's top 100 peaks
, coming it at #87 and is also sought after as an Oregon Prominence Peak.
Proghorn Antelope , Bighorn Sheep, Mule Deer are some of the major animals seen on the Refuge and over 264 varieties of birds have been observed within its boundaries. See some of the links above for more information in this arena. While I enjoy seeing wild animals, my main objective is always the hike or the climb.
From I-5, near Ashland, take Oregon highway 66 59 miles to Klamath Falls. From Klamath Falls, take Oregon highway 140 97 miles to Lakeview. Go north 5 miles on US 395 and hook up with highway 140 as it heads east. Drive 15 miles to the Plush/Hart Mtn road (county road 3-13) and drive 19 miles to the small town of Plush. No gas, is available here even though other sources say it is. My inquiry about gas at the store brought out the truth that they haven't had gas there to sell for some time. From Plush it is 25 miles to the Trailhead at the Hot Springs Campground. About 12 miles from Plush, the paved road turns into a dirt road which gets narrow at times and climbs up onto a plateau. Continue on the road past the Refuge headquarters (has information and restroom). Take the road that heads south and follow it for 1.8 miles to a fork, take the right, signed for the Hot Springs Campground. At the campground, go right on through, past a log rail on the right and over a mini bridge to where the last campsites are. If you have low clearance, find a spot to park but high clearance vehicles can go up the road another 200 yards to the gate, which is kept shut from Dec 1 to Aug 1. There is a nice parking spot at the gate, room enough for a couple vehicles.
From Burns, you can go south on 205 for 60 miles to Frenchglen. Watch for the turn off just a few miles south of Frenchglen as a signed dirt road takes off to the west (Rock Creek Rd). From Frenchglen to the Refuge Headquarters it is 49 miles on a graded dirt road.
If approaching from Winnemucca Nevada on Highway 140, turn north at Adel,
gas available during daylight hours. It is 16 miles on county road 3-10 to Plush
There is also an approach from US 395 via county road 3-10, a high speed graded dirt road that is 30 miles to Plush which is the way I chose to go but
for most people, this would be out of the way. A good map showing these county roads is essential.
No permits are needed to hike or climb in the Refuge. If one wants to camp in the back country, a permit is required and is available for free at the visitor center.
Pets must be kept on a leash and are not allowed to run free on the Refuge.
Additional information, as needed, can be found via these resources:
P.O. Box 111, 18 South G
Lakeview, Oregon 97630
Phone: (541) 947 - 3315
Fax: (541) 947 - 4414
Hart Mtn NAR Manager
Dr. Kelly Hogan
When To Climb
Year around possibilities. Since this area doesn't get much in the way of precipitation, less than 12 inches a year with most of that falling in the form of snow, it is conceivable that this peak could be climbed any month of the season.
The main concern would be access via the dirt road portion from Plush as snow or ice on the steep section coming up from the Warner Valley could require chains.
SP member, cjwhat
added this info that would shorten the hike from Aug 1st to Dec 1st:
here is a road called 'Skline Drive' that goes 6 miles E to W right to the base of Warner Peak, thus eliminating the 3.5 mile dirt road on foot slog from the campground. It is a high clearance vehicle road and is open Aug 1 - Dec 1. It took me 45 minutes to drive the 6 miles in a Toyota Land Cruiser.
Camping can be found at the Hot Springs Campground (30 spots) which serves as the Trailhead. Other camping areas within the Refuge are found at Post Meadows, and seasonally at Guano Creek. To camp in the back country requires permits, free and available at the visitor center. So camping is free and is based on a first come, first served basis, although it would most likely rarely be full with the rare possibilities of a major holiday weekend or perhaps during the hunting season..
Hot Springs campground
Camp spots at the campgrounds are bare bones with no drinking water, firewood or fire rings allowed. Pit toilets are available at no charge Drinking water is available at the Refuge headquarters. The headquarters does not provide any services of any kind and a small convenience store can be found in Plush. Anything else can be found in Lakeview, 65 miles away.
Portable generators are prohibited.
The closest weather information can be found HERE,
I didn't see on antelope while I was there however so that was a bit of a disappointment.
, a member of NWHiker.net
posted a very nice album of pictures taken during his visit to the Warner Peak area and he captured a nice shot of
some proghorns. To see his album, click HERE
If you have information about this mountain that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.