This is a designated class-1 Forest Service trail which means it is minimally developed with intermittent tread that is often indistinct. This pedestrian-only trail is relatively easy to identify at both ends. The Split Rock trailhead on Road 20 is about 3.6 miles west from the Mt Ashland ski lodge. There is a small possibility of parking to the north--one to two cars worth. Once on the trail, try to stay on it as this area features some endangered, fragile plant species--Tauschia Howellii.
Heading north the trail ascends toward McDonald Peak and then heads steeply down into some groves of trees before re-emerging into an open meadow. This pattern of treed and meadowed areas repeats with the addition of some escarpment edges and one particularly rocky area. The actual Split Rock is shown on maps, but it is hard to pinpoint when hiking. The trail flattens out somewhat as one approaches Wagner Glade gap. From there one can continue 2 more miles up to the Wagner Butte Lookout (that's a 10-mile + out and back from FS Road 20, so make sure you have enough gas in the tank to make it back!).
It is easy to get off trail. Much of the trail is from a cow herder's fence line and you'll see remnants of old barbed-wire. Grazing hasn''t taken place here in a long time, the barbed wire fence is down, and nature has taken over and the trail has grown in. Ashland Woodlands and Trails has done minimum maintenance, per the Forest Service, mostly redirecting users away from endangered plants species. Use the Hiking Project mobile app
to help find your way.
The views are unsurpassed: Mt Shasta, Mt McLoughlin, Mt Ashland, the Rogue Valley, the Marble Mtns, the Trinity Alps, and the coastal range. Various wildflowers abound in late spring, early summer.
The snow often lasts until July.