Raspberry Lake/Youngs Valley (Siskiyou Wilderness)

Rating (Out of 5): 5.0

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

Distance: 13.6 miles round-trip

Difficulty: Hard

Camping: At Raspberry Lake, Young's Valley, few other places

Quick hit: Open mid-June to early July, Raspberry Lake is one of the most beautiful destinations in the Siskiyou Wilderness, featuring trout, a way to climb Preston Peak, and good camping spots. The trail follows an abandon roadbed into beautiful Young’s Valley, which has wildflowers in lake June and into July. The trail curves around Young’s Valley, bypassing markers for Black Butte Trail, and heads south another three and a half miles to Raspberry Lake. The final mile, after you pass an old mine, is a tough scramble through the woods.

To climb Preston Peak, the highest point in the Siskiyou Wilderness, located right above Raspberry Lake. From the lake, the route heads off trail up a steep rockfall on the northwest shoreline, toward an unnamed peak directly above the lake. Behind the peak, you come face to face with Preston Peak and can see the steep, ramp-like route to the top.

The ascent up Preston Peak can be scary, passing areas of very steep exposure and requiring a person to use hands and arms to pull themselves up through the cracks in large boulders. In general, though, the climb is best characterized as a grueling trudge up a black staircase.

The climb from Raspberry Lake rises a total of 2,313 feet in just two miles, and the entire trip crosses 17.6 miles and more than 5,000 feet of elevation change. From the summit, though, the view includes the Pacific Ocean, along with every major mountain and valley in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Directions: From Grants Pass, take Redwood Highway 199 south for 48 miles, south of Cave Junction, Ore. and the Siskiyou Summit tunnel. After passing through the tunnel, drive another 3.8 miles to Knopki Creek Road (18n07) and turn left. Follow this gravel road 14 miles to its end, and turn right onto Road 4803 and follow it to Young’s Valley trailhead.

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