Mount Scott rewards hikers with a peak experience
September 29, 2006
By BILL KETTLER
You don’t have to be a mountain climber to tackle Mount Scott. The 10th highest peak in Oregon has a trail that’s so gently graded that anybody who can walk five miles can most likely reach the summit, and your reward will be a spectacular view of Crater Lake.
It’s 2.5 miles from the trailhead on Rim Drive to the summit, but there’s only about 1,000 feet of elevation gain along the way. That makes the trail doable for lots of people who would otherwise never consider climbing a mountain.
With its summit at 8,929 feet, Scott already has had one dusting of snow, and fall’s first big storm usually closes the trail for the duration of the winter.
October is a good time to make your ascent, especially if you don’t enjoy the sound of gunfire when you hike.
Hunting season opens this weekend, and hunters will be out in force in many areas of the national forests surrounding Crater Lake National Park, but hunting is prohibited within the park itself.
The mountain is named for Levi Scott, one of the lesser-known Oregon pioneers. Scott came to Oregon in 1844 and helped develop the Applegate Trail into Southern Oregon. Scottsburg, a nearly forgotten little town on the Umpqua River, also bears his name.
To get there, take Highway 62 to Crater Lake. Go four miles past the entrance station and turn right on East Rim Drive.
It’s about 13 miles to the trailhead, on the right side of the road.
The trail begins at 7,900 feet, in a landscape that supports few trees other than whitebark pines. It follows the remnants of an old road across the mountain’s southwest flank.
After about a mile, the trail begins to climb in switchbacks through the primal stuff of volcanoes — rocks, ash and pumice. The “climbing” isn’t technically difficult, but making your way through all the loose rocks will be lots easier if you wear sturdy shoes.
Remember to take plenty of water. The sun still has ample power on a sunny October day.
The view from the summit is a genuine peak experience. To really get oriented, bring a map with you to identify the neighboring mountains: spiky Mount Thielsen to the north, Mount Bailey off to the west; and Mount McLoughlin, Mount Shasta and Pelican Butte to the south.
And then of course there’s Crater Lake, huge and celestially blue. And here’s another bonus for all your effort: from Scott’s summit, it’s actually possible to crowd the whole lake into the viewfinder of most ordinary cameras.
Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or e-mail:email@example.com