Tanner Lakes Loop + Bolan Mountain (Siskiyous) 10-3-19

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bobcat
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Tanner Lakes Loop + Bolan Mountain (Siskiyous) 10-3-19

Post by bobcat » October 8th, 2019, 10:03 am

**** Note that I originally posted this entry as the 'Tannen Lakes Loop' and have now changed that to the correct spelling of 'Tanner Lakes.' From 1917 to 2002 the Tanner Lakes appeared on maps, trail signs, and in guidebooks as the ‘Tannen’ Lakes - probably a misprint that ingrained itself for 85 years and still surfaces on the internet, in older guidebooks, and on the current trail signage! The U.S. Board on Geographic Names corrected the error in 2002. Tanner Mountain, Tanner Creek, and the Tanner Lakes are named after Ezra Tanner, who arrived in Oregon in 1852, staked a land claim at Waldo, and mined along Tanner Creek.

If you run your cursor on the photos, you will see the captions, which I haven't corrected to 'Tanner.'

Tanner Lakes Loop

Tucked down at the very western end of the Oregon portion of the Red Buttes Wilderness is this loop hike of about 7 ¼ miles. It wasn’t the finest weather - limited views with the snowfall of the weekend before still melting off but a fine and varied loop nevertheless. Certainly there was a feeling of remoteness with nobody else up there and no companion vehicles on the back roads either.

It’s not far from the trailhead up to Tanner Lake, surrounded by gnarly old growth Douglas-fir and incense cedar, with a view to the high ridge above. Between Tanner Lake and East Tanner Lake, I passed my first Brewer's spruce, a rare species found only in scattered locations in the California and Oregon Siskiyous.

View to the Tannen Lakes Trailhead, Tannen Lakes Trail, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
Campsite at Tannen Lake, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
Outlet stream, Tannen Lake, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
Massive Douglas-fir, Tannen Lake, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
Rocky traverse, Tannen Lakes Trail, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
Brewers spruce bark, Tannen Lakes Trail, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
Gnarly incense cedar, Tannen Lakes Trail, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
Huckleberry foliage, Tannen Lakes Trail, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
East Tannen Lake, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg

Then the trail took me up and around the backside of the ridge, offering multiple views of Swan Mountain. For a while, I followed day-old melted out cougar tracks in the snow and then stepped over the cat's scat pile. There’s a funky old sign for the Fehley Gulch Trail at the junction with the Boundary Trail.

View to Swan Mountain, Tannen Lakes Trail, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
Junction sign, Fehley Gulch and Tannen Lakes Trails, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
Old Siskiyou Forest sign, Tannen Lakes-Boundary Trail junction, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg

The Boundary Trail took me up the slope of Tanner Mountain. A short off-trail excursion through an elk-frequented meadow and then a thicket of greenleaf manzanita takes you to the top, but the mountain was snagging clouds and there were no views.

View to Swan Mountain from the Boundary Trail, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
Tannen Mountain, off the Boundary Trail, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
View down East Tannen Creek, Boundary Trail, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg

The trail drops to FR 041-570. Here, there’s a one-mile road walk to Sundown Gap. To close the loop, I committed to the Sullivan-recommended off-trail connector (This actually shows as a trail on old topo maps). I took an abandoned forest track to the top of a steeply sloping linear meadow. Between the bottom of the meadow and the Tanner Lakes Trail, there’s a short bushwhack, and then only 1/3 mile or so back to the trailhead.

West trailhead on FR 041-570, Boundary Trail, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
Along FR 041-570, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
On the abandoned road, Sundown Gap, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
Siskiyou paintbrush, Sundown Gap, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg
View to Craggy Mt. and Swan Mt., Sundown Gap, Red Buttes Wilderness.jpg


Bolan Mountain

I didn’t want to waste valuable daylight hours, so I tacked on this nearby hike. There are actually two trails at Bolan Lake, and the signage is quite confusing. The signed trail is actually a loop around the lakeshore, which is neither indicated on maps nor in Sullivan. That’s what I ended up doing first.

Well, I soon got into alder thickets that were tamped down by heavy but rapidly melting snow. This involved some clumsy stumbling, but I got through and made it around the shore - at some point realizing that this was not going to take me up Bolan Mountain.

Shore of Bolan Lake.jpg
Snow-crushed alders, Bolan Lake.jpg
Broken footbridge, Bolan Lake.jpg
Campsite at Bolan Lake.jpg

The trail up to the lookout on Bolan Mountain, misleadingly called the Bolan Lake Trail, is unsigned at the road (There’s a sign out of sight up the trail) and begins off the upper part of the road loop past the campground. There were more old-growth trees here and long stretches of snow undimpled by human, or even cougar, prints. From the junction with the Kings Saddle Trail on the ridge, it’s a short distance up to the lookout road (open in the summer to visitors renting the lookout).

Beginning of Bolan Lake Trail.jpg
Vanilla leaf carpet, Bolan Lake Trail.jpg
Approaching the Grizzly-Bolan ridge, Bolan Lake Trail.jpg
Mountain hemlocks, Bolan Lake Trail.jpg
View to Bolan Lake, Bolan Lake Trail.jpg

They’re building a new shed below the lookout (It’s easy to understand why when you see the old shed). The lookout itself is an L-4 but looks rather fragile perched up there and walled with thin glass panes. The rental season is over in September, and I assume they’ll lower the shutters soon. Bolan’s rugged south ridge stretches out, and I could actually see Mt. Shasta to the south as I alternately luxuriated under blue skies and then rainbow sprinklings of snow drizzle.

Outhouse, shed, and lookout, Bolan Mountain.jpg
Tilting shed, Bolan Mountain.jpg
Outside the lookout, Bolan Mountain.jpg
Looking into the lookout, Bolan Mountain.jpg
On the deck, Bolan Mountain Lookout.jpg
Looking to Tannen Mountain and Pyramid Peak from Bolan Mountain.jpg

justpeachy
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Re: Tanner Lakes Loop + Bolan Mountain (Siskiyous) 10-3-19

Post by justpeachy » October 11th, 2019, 5:51 pm

Nice, thanks for sharing!

I've been wanting to rent the Bolan Mountain Lookout for awhile but haven't been lucky enough to get reservations. Now I'm wondering if I should even try. It sits in Josephine County, whose Sheriff Department has suffered severe budget cuts. I recently read a story on Facebook about a couple from Alaska who were followed up to the lookout. The men who were following them were wearing masks and carrying guns and acting very intimidating, so the couple left. They were unable to get any help from the sheriff due to the late hour. When they talked to the Forest Service later they learned that the guys had cut the lock on the gate and on the lookout.

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bobcat
Posts: 1975
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Re: Tanner Lakes Loop + Bolan Mountain (Siskiyous) 10-3-19

Post by bobcat » October 13th, 2019, 4:03 pm

Ulp. Yes, I occasionally have nightmares, not of cougars or protective mama bears, but of gun toting masked men in the woods. I've also heard that the Bolan Lookout is hard to reserve.

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