“This trail provides access to Grayback Mountain and the northern Siskiyou Crest
— Bruce Hope
The upper section of this trail is usually snow-covered between December and May.
This trail is part of the Pine to Palm 100 mile point to point race, which starts in Williams, Oregon and ends in Ashland, Oregon. It is usually done annually in early September.
NOTE: Do not confuse this trail with the Little Grayback Trail #921
on the Rogue-Siskiyiou National Forest (near Oregon’s Applegate Lake), the “Little Grayback Trail
” on the Klamath National Forest in California, or the O’Brien Creek Trail #900, also on the Rogue-Siskiyiou National Forest, which is the usual approach for a climb of Grayback Mountain.
This trail was constructed by the Bureau of Land Management, with the help of local volunteers, between1989 and 2006; it crosses BLM adminstered lands and is not in a national forest. Grayback Mountain is, at 7,048 feet, the tallest peak in Josephine County, Oregon. This trail climbs the long ridge of Grayback Mountain up to Windy Gap, a saddle at about 6,500 feet just north of the summit.
This trail is accessed from a trailhead south of Williams, Oregon, off Rock Creek Road. Two miles up Rock Creek Road (BLM Road 39-5-14) you’ll reach a BLM sign and a gravel pullout area on the right - the Grayback Mountain Trail starts here. If you want to shorten the run by a mile, continue on up BLM Road 39-5-14 to a wide spot where another road goes sharply to the left and the road straight ahead is blocked by a yellow gate. Park here (don’t block the road) and run past the gate and up the road for a mile to join the Grayback Mountain Trail.
From the junction with the road, the trail rolls up and down for the first couple of miles. It soon climbs moderately, but steadily, along the southeast side of the ridge through forests of madrones and then pines. At about 4,400 feet, there are a series of long switchbacks where you'll first views of the Williams Creek Valley to the north. The trail continues to traverse the ridge before reaching another set of tight switchbacks in an area called Grayback Glades. At 5,700 feet, the trail turns southeast and climbs several more steeper switchbacks that go over the east ridge of Big Sugarloaf Peak (6,679 feet) and the drops down to its end at the Windy Gap saddle.
This trail does not go to the summit—no official trail does—but it’s a straightforward, almost brush-free, cross-country scramble from Windy Gap to the summit. The best views are from the summit of Big Sugarloaf.
Flora & Fauna
There may be poison oak and ticks.