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.
This is an odd hike in that the trailhead is actually higher than the summit of York Butte.
The trail starts next to the road and follows an old road bed southwest downhill. The trail is designated No. 1140 by the forest service. In about ½ mile the road bed ends and you enter the Kalmiopsis Wilderness area. The trail continues down hill along a broad ridgeline. Soon you can see rounded York Butte a little off to the right from straight ahead. In about 1.5 miles from the trailhead you reach a saddle that leads to York Butte. At this point you have descended about 550ft from the trailhead.
Cross the saddle and follow the trail as it starts to climb. The trail makes 7 switchbacks up the steep north side of York Butte. On the summit a few of the rocks have been painted yellow for some reason. There is a brass benchmark that marks the York summit. There are a few bivy sights on the summit if you want to spend the night.
The total hike was about 3.8 miles, I climbed 1,100 ft, and it took me 1 ¾ hours.
The 10 essentials are always required. There is no water available, so take all you need. This area receives copious amounts of rain, so bring some rain gear or an umbrella.