|Spend a day hiking to Curry County’s third-highest peak|
|Written by Bill Schlichting, Pilot staff writer|
|October 02, 2010 06:00 am|
A place for a hiker to feel on top of the world is Vulcan Peak, a 4,655-foot high mountain on the western edge of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness east of Brookings.
The summit of Vulcan Peak is within sight from trail, which climbs more than 900 feet to the top. The Pilot/Bill Schlichting
The summit, the third-highest in Curry County, offers views of Collier Butte, Preston Peak, Point St. George and, although a tiny speck, St. George Reef Lighthouse. According to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest website, hikers have also reported views of Mount Scott, the highest point along the rim of Crater Lake, and a sliver of Mount Shasta.
Vulcan Lake, a body of water created by a glacier that once was on the mountain, can be seen below.The trailhead is 30 miles east of Brookings and takes about an hour of driving. Follow North Bank Chetco River Road. After Loeb State Park, it become Forest Service Road 1376, and continue a total of 16 miles. After crossing the South Fork of the Chetco River, the road splits. The shortest route is to take a right on Forest Service Road 1909. Follow this road for 14 miles to a spur road pointing to the trailhead.
At the trailhead parking, picnic and restroom facilities are available.
The trail, starting at an elevation of 3,700 feet, takes off through the remains of trees burned in the 2002 Biscuit Fire. After about a quarter of a mile, of following a former road, the trail splits. The right trail continues along the old road taking hikers to Doe Gap and other points in the interior of the wilderness. The left fork continues on the ascent to Vulcan Peak.
The trail follows an ascending ridge, but as the ridge becomes steeper, the trail then takes off on the south slope.
After a half mile from the fork, the trail comes to a switchback, bringing the hiker back to the top of the ridge. A second switchback places the trail on the north slope. At this point, the trail can be seen where it reaches the summit in the distance.
Continuing up the mountain, the trail comes to a saddle, offering the first views to the east. At this point is the final ascent.
Although the climb continues at about a 12-percent grade, the final ascent seems to be the easiest. After climbing more than 900 feet, the summit is reached when arriving at the remains of a burned out fire lookout. All that remains are the anchor bolts.
The trail ends here.
Hikers who wish to view Vulcan Lake must blaze their own trail to the end of the ridge, which is slightly below the summit.
The hike takes about an hour from the trailhead to the top. Of course, the descent is much easier and takes less time.
Although the trail is clearly marked, it is rocky. Bring water, a walking stick is helpful, and don’t forget the camera.