Mt. June via Hardesty Way

September 21, 2005

I only had two signups for this trip. One canceled and the other just didn’t show up at the meeting place, so I went by myself. I guess there’s just not a lot of interest in a 3000' elev. gain hike mid-week.

Hardesty Way used to be an access trail for the lookouts on Hardesty Mountain and Mt. June. Its original trailhead was down near the confluence of Junetta and Layng creeks, before the extensive logging in the area in the 40s. Since that time its remaining upper third has been accessed from a trailhead near the end of what is now called FS Road 1758.

For two years in the 90s Hardesty Way was at the center of attention when about half of the remaining trail was destroyed by the construction of a road built to service the contentious “Judie” timber sale. That sale, which was inside the Hardesty-June roadless area, was rescinded in December 1998. This year, the trailhead was restored at a new location—lengthening the trail by about half a mile.

The weather was nice for this hike—not to cool, not too warm. Trail tread has been put in on the left side of the large berm that separates the road from the “trail,” what was to be the “Judie” road. The first ¾ mile follows closely the pre-40s location of Hardesty Way, avoiding the excessively steep, ¼ mile skid road that was used for about half a century to connect to the old high trailhead—a welcome improvement. There’s not a well defined footpath, just a broad, rocky road-bed, getting rather overgrown with brush. There are numerous waterbars cut at an angle across the trail to prevent erosion.

The trail becomes nearly level for about ½ mile from the point it meets the old skid road. At one point near the end of this segment, Cindy (Cottage Grove District Rec. person) has flagged a re-route off the roadbed, back to the original trail for a short way, as the road is particularly rough and overgrown there.

Trees were felled to make way for the road for the next ¼ mile but not removed, and the logs are still there, slowly rotting away. The trail returns to its original tread here to avoid the tangle, going up over a knoll. At the high point is a view down the valley towards Cottage Grove. Much of this section is flagged for brushing.

At about 1½ miles from the trailhead the trail enters the untouched forest. Here one is reminded of what a “way trail” is—a way to get somewhere fairly directly: it’s steep! The trail goes up over hills, then down into saddles. The top of the first hill is very brushy for about 30'. Off to the left is a short side trail to a rocky viewpoint from which Fairview Peak and Bohemia Mountain can be seen to the south, and Diamond Peak to the east. After about 2¼ miles the trail ends at the Sawtooth Trail, about mid-way between Hardesty Mountain and Mt. June.

This is the first time I’ve been in the meadow below Sawtooth Rock in the fall. It was filled with tall, dried grass, quite different from the flowery meadow I’m used to seeing here. There were cut branches in places—possibly trail maintenance by the trail runners who use the Hardesty-June area for their 20-, 30-, 40-mile runs.

I had a solitary lunch on top of June with the usual views from Jeff in the north, to Thielsen in the south. On the descent I met Obsidian Josh Ladau hiking up June with three friends.

—Wayne Deeter

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