Pacific Southwest Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
View towards Siskiyou Peak from Mt. Ashland. Photo by Ken DeCamp.
Siskiyou Mountains orthocarpus (Orthocarpus cuspidatus ssp. cuspidatus). Photo by Ken DeCamp.
Henderson’s horkelia (Horkelia hendersonii). Photo by Ken DeCamp.
Jaynes Canyon buckwheat (Eriogonum diclinum). Photo by Ken DeCamp.
Mt. Ashland - Siskiyou Peak Botanical Special Interest Area
Forest: Klamath National Forest
District: Oak Knoll Ranger District
Description: This 800 acre Botanical Area is located along the Siskiyou Crest, a major east-west chain of peaks that separate the Rogue River drainage to the north and the Klamath River drainage to the south. This exceptional area is at the crossroads of the Cascades and Klamath Ranges, with influences from coastal Oregon and Sierras floras, which has led to a high degree of botanical diversity. Mt. Ashland and Siskiyou Peak, both above 6,800 feet in elevation, support a subalpine flora. Open glades, wet and dry meadows, rocky montane chaparral, and stands of stunted high-elevation conifers are found on the adjacent ridges and rock outcrops. The Siskiyou Mountains escaped recent glaciation. As a result, there are many endemic plant species and relict populations.
Viewing Information: Because of the high elevation, the wildflowers do not start to flower until the snow banks melt in May to June. The botanical area offers viewing areas at many points along the Mt. Ashland road or the Pacific Crest Trail, which may not be fully accessible until about mid-June. On the top and western ridge of Mt. Ashland, you can see Mt. Ashland lupine, which is found nowhere else in the world. The open ridges and sandy soils are also habitat for the rare Henderson’s horkelia and Howell’s tauschia. Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir, rare this far south in Oregon, can be found in small isolated patches. The slopes below the ridge top are a mix of wet and dry meadows with an abundance of several species of lupine, monkshood, phacelia, larkspur, and exceptional stands of native grasses. The shrub fields are dominated by mountain sagebrush and greenleaf manzanita. The rocky areas are good places to find small mounding perennials such as Jaynes Canyon buckwheat, coyote mint, and several species of penstemon. Four species of anemone can be found in the different habitats, and western pasqueflower (Anemone occidentalis) is at its showiest as the snow banks melt.
Safety First: The Mt. Ashland road is popular with hikers and mountain bikers. Drive slowly and watch out for others. The road to the top of Mt. Ashland is narrow with few turnouts and parking is limited at the top. Wear sturdy shoes and proper warm clothing for conditions at this high altitude. Carry sunscreen and plenty of water. There is no water at the Mt. Ashland Campground or the Grouse Gap Shelter.
Directions: Traveling south from Ashland or north from Yreka on Interstate 5, take the Mt. Ashland Exit (Exit 6) and follow the signs along the 8-mile paved access road leading to the Mt. Ashland Ski Area. The pavement ends just past the ski area parking lot, and the Botanical Area begins where the access road becomes the gravel Forest Service Road 20. This road continues west through the length of the Botanical Area. The spur road to the top of Mt. Ashland is another 1 mile, on the right, and Siskiyou Peak is approximately 3 miles farther along Forest Road 20. The Pacific Crest Trail can be accessed at the east end of the Botanical Area ¼ mile down 40S15, which takes off at the end of the paved parking lot.
Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Klamath National Forest, (530) 842-6131.
Closest Towns: Yreka, California and Ashland, Oregon.