York Butte is located in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area located near the Josephine/Curry county line in southwest Oregon. The Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area encompasses 180,000 acres and York Butte is one of several mountains in the wilderness. Much of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area was burned in the 2002 Biscuit Fire
Surprisingly, I found this hike to be scenic in spite of the fire damage. Most of the damage was to low growing brush and young trees. The taller trees are charred near the ground, but the tops are green and healthy. The low growing bushes are coming back and the rhododendrons will bloom in June or July.
The Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area is known for its diverse plant life, steep mountain slopes, and 3 magnificient wild and scenic rivers. The Illinois, Chetco, and Smith Rivers all pass through the wilderness and are the destinations for most wilderness visitors.
York Butte is a small summit in the northeast portion of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area. Views from the summit include the Chetco River drainage, Pearsoll Peak
, Bald Mountain, and all the way to Mt. McLoughlin
in the east.
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 road way. 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 the unmarked road you want goes to the left. This road is still a good gravel road. Follow it the final 1.8 miles to the trailhead for York Butte. The trailhead has a large forest service sign that is impossible to miss indicating where the trailhead begins.
No permits required unless you want a campfire.
Ranger Station Info
Galice Ranger District (Grants Pass Interagency Office)
Pam Bode, District Ranger
2164 N.E. Spalding Avenue
Grants Pass, OR 97526 Phone:
Voice: (541) 471-6500
Fax : (541) 471-6514
There are lots of camping areas within a few miles of the trailhead, including areas along the Rogue River and Taylor Creek. Some of these campgrounds are closed in the winter, so call ahead to find out about access.
There really is no backpack camping available along the trail. You could make a bivy site at the summit if you wish.
Follow this link for more camping information.
Forest Service Camping Info
When to Climb
This mountain is not accessible in the winter unless you ski to the trailhead..
Winter snow closes the road above Sam Brown Campground.
Summer hiking could be quite hot. The mountain is not tall enough to get above the 100 degree plus temperatures in the valley. I like to climb in the area in the spring and fall.
This mountain is accessible until the first good snow storm of the winter covers the road. The road is not plowed and you have to wait for the springtime melt to get up the road. The main problem is above the Sam Brown Campground after the road turns to gravel
Summer hiking could be quite hot. The mountain is not tall enough to get above the 100 degree plus temperatures in the valley. This would be a good morning hike and then cool off in Taylor Creek in the afternoon.
For current weather conditions in Grants Pass follow this link