Aspen Butte from the Clover Creek Trailhead 6-16-21

Photos by Bob and Randy, Track by Francie

Seven of us took off Wednesday for our assault on Aspen Butte in the Mountain Lakes Wilderness, just SE of Lake of the Woods. We conquered and returned in high spirits. The drive to the trail head is exactly one hour. The turnoff to the trail head is at about mile marker 5.8 off Clover Creek Road. The trail head road is short and in great shape.

The hike is a tale of four trail sections and covers 10.2 mile with 2,400’ of vertical. The first section is about 1 hour of up to a sign marking the Clover Creek Cut Off Trail to the right, and a loop trail to the left. Either trail will get you to the Summit, but the Cut Off Trail saves you 1 mile each way. This lower section of trail starts at 5,800’ and is well marked, cleared of downfall and a relatively easy to moderate gradient. It follows the upper reaches of Clover Creek and is entirely forested with patches of old growth Doug Fir in the lower section transitioning to white fir as you go up.

The next section which includes the 1 mile Cut Off trail and up to the ridge line remains an easy to moderate gradient through a mixture of fir and less dense forest in areas of old rocky lava flows. The trail is harder to follow and is marked by cairns and blazed trees. And mosquitos. Our rest breaks were quick given that as soon as you stopped, we were swarmed by the little monsters.

The next section left the misquotes behind, and was a pleasant, easy gradient walk along the rim of the cirque/caldera. The only difficult aspect was crossing several sections of broken rocky lava outcrops and checking your footing with each step. The last section was a 400’ steeper climb to the summit at 8,200’.

The peak was a perfect lunch spot with 360-degree views and a surprise of Linda and Randy at the top. The views of the multiple cirques (Caldara?) were magnificent. Mt. McLoughlin was shining brightly to the NW. To the SW Shasta’s northern glacier etch side gave a different perspective of that massive cone. Finally, to the east was Klamath Lake and the town of Klamath Falls.

Our return trip was quick, Leslie with help from Michael and Francie were counting every wind fall log that we had to cross on the downward trail. Problem was, their count was 98 logs and my count, of logs that required hands or butts, touching the log was 3. It was a matter of criteria, and if 6” or 1’ logs should be counted.

June and Marylin along with Sherry tagged behind the log counting group and did not participate in the criteria discussion. The cars were spotted just in time. At the end, we all agreed on two thing: 10 miles was approaching the upper limits of our tolerance, and the entire hike (minus the mosquitos) was well worth it.

This area, like LOW, and part of Seven Lakes Wilderness was hit by a massive windstorm during the winter of 2017/18 (?), and there is a lot of downfall in the area. Also, full disclosure the entire trail is good but since it crosses relatively young basaltic lava flows it is a bit rocky in places.

Track download: Aspen Butte via Clover Creek Trail 6-16-21.gpx

Ashland Hiking Home

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