The trailhead on G-O Road has no parking, but there is a very large turnout 0.1 mile further along. The initial climb is steep and brushy, but it quickly levels off onto an old road. This follows the edge of the Siskiyou Wilderness, so there are many boundary signs. After turning north, singletrack trail breaks off, climbing up onto the ridge where irises and views abound. A benchmark just off the trail marks the high point of the mountain around a mile in.
The trail drops around to the east side of the ridge where it finds numerous small streams before climbing up to the large meadow that is Summit Valley, about 2 miles in. There are a couple camps in the meadow, but they can be quite soggy in season and the water source can dry out out of season.
The trail makes a sharp left at the start of the meadow, which can be hard to find. A pointing cairn (which could be confused for another camp) helps to show where it continues to climb toward the old location of the Summit Valley Fire Lookout, about 2.5 miles along. A spur trail goes to the site while this trail passes to the west and starts down.
After the first descent from the lookout location, it starts a long ridge hike with expected views. This is a long, dry stretch. There is another drop and more ridge before the ridge finishes and the trail switchbacks downward to the river through a hillside of Pacific rhododendron and western azaleas.
The last section through big trees can have a few down and a slide area near the bottom could make some users uneasy. It finishes at a signed junction on South Kelsey Trail
about 3 miles from the western trailhead.
Recent fires have caused difficulties for the trail. It can be especially hard to find around the large, flat peak near the former fire lookout. Downed trees are frequent in that area and along some parts of the ridge hike.
Shared By: Valerie Norton