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Kerby Peak Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Kerby Peak trail at around 5,000 feet (B. Hope)
View to the southwest from the summit of Kerby Peak (B. Hope)
The view south from Kerby Peak, with Preston Peak in the distance (B. Hope)
Map of the Kerby Peak hike (B. Hope)
  • Start point: Kerby Peak TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Kerby Peak Trailhead
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Out-and-Back
  • Distance: 7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2,600 feet
  • High Point: 5,545 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Late Spring to Early Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

This is one of the more accessible of the hikes starting in the Illinois Valley in Southern Oregon. It provides access to Kerby Peak, an old lookout site with spectacular panoramic views and unique botanical and geologic features. It's usually open (snow-free) between mid-April and late October. In the spring (April - June), there are wildflowers on the east-facing slopes crossed by the trail and the rare Brewer's Spruce grows along the trail near the summit.

The Kerby Peak Trail is documented on maps dating back to 1915 and was probably first established by Native Americans or game animals. In 1916, a telephone line was constructed to the peak by the State. In 1922, an official State lookout was established on top of the peak, where it remained until 1966. A Civilian Conservation Corps camp (Camp Kerby) was established outside of Selma in 1933 and men from the camp reportedly hiked the trail after hours in an effort to maintain physical fitness. The Oregon State Forestry Department burned the lookout in the fall of 1966, after it was acquired from the Forest Service and decommissioned. The last lookout tenant was reported as having a communicable disease (presumably Shingles, which was found in Selma around the same time), which contributed to the decision to burn the tower.

From the trailhead, the well-maintained trail climbs steadily on several switchbacks to crest the ridge just below Point 4463. From here you can get a view of Grayback Mountain and Big Sugarloaf Peak to the southeast. On a foggy day in the valley, you're likely break into sunshine at this point. The trail then climbs much less steeply as it contours around the east side of Point 5112 and up to the 5,000' contour below the summit. Then a series of short switchbacks take you the remaining 500' to the top. From here, on a clear day, you'll have a great 360 degree view. Preston Peak - the high point in California's Siskiyou Wilderness - will be prominent to the south. There is no reliable water along this trail.


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon by William L. Sullivan (3rd Edition, Hike #158)
  • Hiking Southern Oregon by Art Bernstein and Zach Urness (Hike #69)

More Links

Page 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.