Lightweight Backpacking After 60 in the Rogue Valley

May 31, 2014: Long Gulch & Trail Gulch Lakes

Hikers: Maria G., Steve W., George H.
Distance: ~8.7 mi.; Elevation: ~2200′
Summary: Trinity Alps in May! no people; no smoke; (almost) no snow; strenuous but very enjoyable
Driving: Description: Sullivan (2nd ed.) #94 (pp.222-223); or see Planning 2014

This last-minute (announced via email) day hike was originally to Ostrich Peak (in Ashland hills); however, given a flexible group, entire day available, great weather, minimal Google Earth snow coverage, and desire to scout for a future day hike, we decided to re-route. Two years ago, we backpacked to Long Gulch Lake and camped for 2 nights. When we couldn’t locate the ridge trail (connecting counterclockwise to Trail Gulch Lake — or maybe we were deterred by elevation gain w/ backpacks), we returned to west trailhead, drove to east trailhead and dayhiked to Trail Gulch Lake. There was an unfulfilled desire to connect the dots…

So, on this day trip, we hiked the complete loop in clockwise direction (much easier to find/follow in our opinion, though there is now a sign at meadow at end of Long Gulch Lake); we preferred the ascent/descent profile clockwise from Trail Gulch to Long Gulch.

Ashland: 8am
East trailhead (5500′): 10am
Trail Gulch Lake (6410′): 1.5 mi. (at junction, we skipped 0.3 mi in/out to lake itself)
Pass above Trail Gulch (7000′): 1.0 mi. (lunch)
Pass above Long Gulch (7400′): 1.1 mi. (break)
Long Gulch Lake (6440′): 1.3 mi. (few small snow patches on trail; water break at previous campsite)
West trailhead (5265′): 3.2 mi.
Back to car at east trailhead (5500′): 0.6 mi. (uphill on road; car shuttle?); 4:30pm
Dinner at Etna Brewing Co.: 5:15pm
Ashland: 7:30pm

For those, who’d like shorter, easier in-and-out day hikes:

  • East trailhead: Trail Gulch Lake: 3.6 mi. RT; ~900′ elev. gain
  • West trailhead: Long Gulch Lake: 6.4 mi. RT; ~1200; elev. gain

Note: the two lake names have been reversed over time, which can be confusing!

  • on the East: Trail Gulch Lake (newer signs/guidebooks); Long Gulch Lake (older topos)
  • on the West: Long Gulch Lake (newer signs/guidebooks); Trail Gulch Lake (older topos) — possible mnemonic: current Long Gulch has the Longer trail.

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