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Grassy Knob Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Anvil Mountain from Grassy Knob (bobcat)
Tanoak woods, Grassy Knob (bobcat)
Tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus) acorns, Grassy Knob (bobcat)
Lookout site, Grassy Knob (bobcat)
The short hike up to the former lookout site on Grassy Knob (marked in red) (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Grassy Knob TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Grassy Knob
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 290 feet
  • High Point: 2,342 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

The old growth forests of the small Grassy Knob Wilderness were slated for logging in the early 1980s, a move that stirred wilderness activists who wanted to protect the pristine salmon runs of Dry Creek and stands of massive old-growth Port Orford cedar in this rugged roadless area. The U.S. Forest Service Powers District ranger, Herb Wick, actually authorized the construction of a road past the Grassy Knob Lookout site and into the heart of the wilderness in order to prevent such a designation. His action had the opposite effect, and the Grassy Knob Wilderness, initially opposed by such luminaries as Senator Mark Hatfield, was included in the 1984 Oregon Wilderness Act. Now you can hike up the ranger’s road and detour to the old lookout site on the only trail in this wilderness area.

At a vehicle barrier, there’s information and a map about the Grassy Knob Trail #1241. The wood wilderness sign that was once posted here was gone in 2017. Hike up the continuation of FR 5105, the ranger’s road (The road track is technically not in the wilderness although the surrounding country is). Young Douglas-firs, western hemlocks, and even a couple of small Port Orford cedars are crowding the track along with salal and rhododendron. You can look down the steep slope to the left into the Dry Creek drainage to see stands of taller conifers. Irises bloom along the trail in early summer, and later there will be tiger lilies.

The trail departs from the road bed to the right and heads up a slope for about 200 yards in a leafy woodland of tanoak. A narrow stone staircase leads up to the old lookout site. From here, a Japanese plane carrying incendiary bombs was spotted in 1942. Apparently, the plane actually dropped the bomb, intended to start a forest fire, but the device didn’t explode and has never been found. These days, views are restricted by the shrubbery of tanoak, silk tassel, madrone, and manzanita. You can see the thickly forested ridge of Anvil Mountain just to the south and then, farther south, Pearse Peak, Purple Mountain, and Father Mountain. To the west, the Pacific Ocean is visible through the vegetation. Four guy cable anchors are all that remain of the cabin lookout that was erected in 1934 and decommissioned in the 1960s.

The road you hiked up on, the one ordered by the anti-wilderness Forest Service ranger mentioned above, continues for another three-quarters of a mile along the ridge. It is becoming severely overgrown with young conifers and offers limited views.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Powers and Gold Beach Ranger Districts
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Siskiyou National Forest

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Rough, narrow road the last two miles

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 75 Hikes in Oregon’s Coast Range and Siskiyous by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Hiking Oregon by Donna Lynn Ikenberry
  • Oregon’s Wilderness Areas by George Wuerthner
  • Atlas of Oregon Wilderness by William L. Sullivan

More Links


Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.