Hiking the PCT Out to Cement Bluff 7-25-22

Photos by Rich

Ashland Hiking Home

Shortly after I pulled into the Rite Aid lot, Gary, my hiking partner for the day, rolled in. Wow, two minds with a single thought, hit the trail ASAP. So at 7:30 we started the drive south.

Although Mt. Shasta was shrouded in haze from the Oak fire, our views along the PCT out to Cement Bluff were clear around High Camp Basin.
We reached the parking lot at 6,845' just after 9 AM. It was 70 degrees under blue skies. We saw the first of at least a dozen Thru hikers as we arrived.

This 5 mile out and back is mostly level with only 250' of elevation change making it one of the gentless stretches on the PCT doable by any AHG hiking group. The trail starts across National Forest Road 17 from parking and makes a semi-circle around the basin to the bluff passing through rocky cliffs, shady forests and an open meadow before crossing a massive ancient boulder slide.

Just as the top of the Bluff comes into sight a glance below the trail reveals Bluff Lake. On this day we heard music and happy yells rising from the lake as 4 teens had set up camp and were competing in pairs Ping Pong. There was, also, a blowup Unicorn raft floating on the lake.

At 11:30,we found a shady spot for lunch on top of the Bluff and enjoyed the views all around the canyon including the top of Shasta and Mt. Eddy. We were surprised to find our elevation on top of the Bluff was 6,737'. We were actually lower than the parking lot.

We shared many pleasant exchanges with Thru hikers on the trail; and let them know about both Bluff Lake and Bull Lake ahead, where they could take a dip to cool off.

All along the trail there were colorful wildflowers to brighten the scenery and add to our appreciation of nature. To name a few, we saw Columbine, Fleabane, Paintbrush, Azure Penstemon, Scarlet Gilia, Owl's Clover, Red Lunged LocoWeed, Oregon Sunshine,  Sulphur flower Buckwheat, and Yarrow.

The afternoon sun had brought temps into the 80s and we were glad of a blast of AC on the ride back. We had done just over 10 miles on a most enjoyable hike. We returned to Ashland by 3 PM. Greeted by the first day of 100+ degree heat.

Happy Trails,