Polar Bear Gap/Private Lake (Siskiyou Wilderness)

Rating (Out of 5): 3.5

Location: Between Grants Pass, Ore. and Crescent City, Calif.

Distance: 14.5 mile loop

Difficulty: Hard

Camping: Yes

Quick hit: This rugged trail begins at the Black Butte Trailhead and goes about two miles before coming to a junction, where one way leads to Young's Valley and one way heads over Polar Bear Gap. The trail to Polar Bear gap leads to a beautiful 5,700 foot saddle. If you continue past the gap, down into Twin Valley's beautiful meadows, be careful because the trail becomes faint. Near the end of Twin Valleys (you'll hike through an upper and lower meadow), a hiker sign indicates a trail that takes you looping back southward toward Young's Valley. After crossing some amazing views, you'll reach a spot where you can hike to a beautiful little lake that on most maps has no name, but is sometimes called Private Lake. After about 12 miles total you'll reach Young's Valley, and can follow Black Butte Trail back to its trailhead and your car. The whole hike is about 18 miles and tough.

Directions: From Grants Pass, Ore. drive Redwood Highway 199 south 35.5 miles. Drive 7 miles south of Cave Junction and turn left on Waldo Road. Follow Waldo Road five miles and turn right at Bridgeview-Takilma Road for 3.7 miles. When you reach the end of the pavement, fork left onto Road 4904 for 1.7 miles. Then fork right across a bridge on Road 4906 and keep right on gravel road for 5.4 miles. At a fork, veer left onto Road 053 for 4.5 miles. Finally, after going uphill, park at trailhead on right side of the row below a large black butte.

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