Kalmiopsis Wilderness

Illinois River Route


Soon after moving to the Pacific Northwest in March, 2006, I was looking for a good warmup backpack trip of four days and three nights. Since it was April, it had to be a fairly low altitude trip. First I looked at the Rogue River Trail. But I preferred something a bit more wild, so I chose the Illinois River Trail, which is just a bit to the north. I wouldn't get much above 3000 feet. The route is usually a shuttle, starting and ending on opposite sides. But since the routes across the mountains were not yet open, I would go in about 2/3 of the way, and then come back out.

The drive to get there as quite long, over seven hours, including about ten miles of dirt roads at the end. So my first day started well into the afternoon, and my last day ended early, with time to drive home. The route had not yet been maintained, and it ended up being a more rigorous trip than I had expected or wanted for this early in the season. Not only were there downed trees and lots of brush, but the trail description I got off the internet drastically underestimated the altitude gain and loss - I hadn't really checked the topo map in detail ahead of time, trusting in the written description.

Briggs Creek, right near the trailhead.

Panther Creek, soon after.

 

The Illinois River.

The infamous kalmiopsis flower, for which the wilderness is named, which blooms near York Creek. It is a rare flower, requiring a very specific type of soil that is not common.

 

 

Pine Creek Camp, about four miles in.

Soon after, the next day, I ran into frequent downed trees on the trail.

There also was a burned area. I think this may be from the Biscuit Fire.

 

The trail leaves the river side because it goes through a gorge, and climbs almost 3000 feet. Here we are looking down on the Illinois River.

After climbing nearly 3000 feet to pass near by Bald Mountain, the trails switchbacks down grassy slopes back to the Illinois River.

 

The Illinois River, with Silver Creek joining at the bottom right.

Looking down stream on the Illinois.

Silver Creek, just above where it joins the Illinois. This was as far as I got. I camped on a knol just up to the right.

 

The trail bridge over Silver Creek.

Silver Creek.

Silver Creek joining the Illinois.

 

Yet snother view of Silver Creek joining the Illinois, from the lower left.

 

 

 

The weather got worse for my return trip.

 

It snowed heavily for a while while hiking back up towards Bald Mountain.

The Biscuit Fire area.

 

 

Getting close to Pine Camp again.

One of the larger trail blockages. A group of large logs completely covers the trail where it crosses a ravine.

 

The kalmiopsis flowers again at York Creek.