Lone Pilot Loop
ElevationAscent: 2,859' 872 m
Descent: -2,859' -872 m
High: 5,305' 1,617 m
Low: 3,782' 1,153 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 35% (19°)
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“A wonderful way to visit the interior of the Soda Mountain Wilderness.”— Bruce Hope
Just stay on this obvious road as it heads east, ducking in and out of canyons and gullies. You'll notice that each canyon is a unique microclimate—allowing you to go (for example) from stands of towering Ponderosa pines to open meadows in the space of 500 feet or less.
The trail continues eastward and crosses the east fork of Hutton Creek at about 4.6 miles from the trailhead. This is one (the other being Scotch Creek) of only two perennial water sources along the route. From here the old road contours around and into the Slide drainage which is usually completely dry. Eventually, at 9.2 miles from the trailhead, it descends into the drainage of an unnamed intermittent stream then climbs into the Scotch Creek drainage, which is known for its hovering maples and gigantic ponderosa pines. This is a possible campsite if the loop is done as an overnight backpack.
If Scotch Creek is dry where the trail crosses it, your options are to: (a) Follow the apex of the drainage down for about 8-10 minutes to where there's a perennial spring rolling over a small outcrop or (b) continue up another mile to where another perennial spring crosses the trail.
From Scotch Creek, the trail climbs to the top of Lone Pine Ridge and follows yet another old road north along the ridge. After an easy stroll along the ridge, you do one big descending switchback (to avoid some cliffs along the ridge) followed by a climb back up to a junction with the PCT. You then follow the PCT west (south-bound) back to the trail leading down to the Pilot Rock Trail.
Although running on the old road is straightforward and without any navigational challenges, it is a long run (17 mi) and there are enough elevation changes (3,000 feet worth) to make an intermediate/difficult run.
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Land Manager: BLM Oregon - Medford District Office