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Lone Pilot Trail

Intermediate
 3.3 (3)

A gently graded trail through the heart of Oregon's Soda Mountain Wilderness.


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Map Key

12.6

Miles

20.2

KM

87%

Runnable

5,303' 1,616 m

High

3,780' 1,152 m

Low

2,311' 704 m

Up

2,104' 641 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

33%

Max Grade (18°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Spring · Views · Wildflowers

The usual wilderness area regulations and restrictions apply. The trail itself is open year-round but the best times are April to June (moderate temperatures, wildflowers) or September to November (moderate temperatures, fall colors). The upper reaches of this trail—those closest to the PCT—can be blocked by snow from November to May.

Description

The Lone Pilot Trail was constructed in the Soda Mountain Wilderness along roads that had been abandoned long before the wilderness was designated. These repurposed old roads are the only way you can explore the depths of the western half of this wilderness without bushwhacking. The Lone Pilot Trail starts and ends at the Pacific Crest Trail—you use the PCT to make a loop. You reach the western end of the Lone Pilot by running 0.8 miles up from the Pilot Rock Trail.

Going counter-clockwise starting from the western end of the Lone Pilot, you head south through some large meadows (heavy with wildflowers in the spring) with a big view of Mt. Shasta (the first of many), pass an abandoned stock pond that is frog heaven in the spring, and then swing east around the south side of Pilot Rock.

The Lone Pilot cuts in and out of ravines throughout its length, and these ravines harbor microclimates and habitats quite different from the south-facing ridges. A run through an open meadow is followed by a plunge into a dense Ponderosa forest within a hundred yards. This forest passages provide cool relief if you run this in summer.

About 8 miles from the PCT, the trail drops to its low point along an unnamed creek. From there, the trail starts a long, slow climb up through oak forests to a crossing of Scotch Creek, and then on up to a view of snow-covered Mt. Ashland to the north, and Mt. Shasta, Black Butte, and Mt. Eddy to the south.

Eventually, the trail reaches the top of Lone Pine Ridge, which you then follow north to the PCT. The trail along the ridge undulates gently through forests and passed vistas, before encountering a steep, loose cliff that forces it to lose elevation and then climb back up to the PCT. From the signed junction, you can follow the PCT south back to the Pilot Rock Trail.

Although long-ish, this trail is never steep or hard to follow. It's a great way to experience the inner Soda Mountain Wilderness, with its differing habitats and vistas. There are places to camp and water sources, so you could easily do an overnight (or longer) backpack here.

Contacts

Shared By:

Bruce Hope

Trail Ratings

  3.3 from 3 votes

#24229

Overall
  3.3 from 3 votes
5 Star
33%
4 Star
33%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
33%
Trail Rankings

#787

in Oregon

#24,229

Overall
21 Views Last Month
821 Since Oct 27, 2017
Intermediate

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Photos

The west face of Pilot Rock from the Lone Pilot Trail
Oct 27, 2017 near Ashland, OR
At the junction with the Lone Pilot Trail with Pilot Rock in the distance.
Apr 11, 2021 near Ashland, OR
Run on the log
Jun 10, 2019 near Ashland, OR
The Lone Pilot travels an avenue of trees alongside a creek
Oct 27, 2017 near Ashland, OR
Mount Shasta and the Trinity Alps from the Lone Pilot Trail.
Oct 27, 2017 near Ashland, OR
This is the trail ... having some gators would have helped keep all the grass seed and junk out of your shoes.
Jun 10, 2019 near Ashland, OR

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