Frog Pond Trail (Red Buttes Wilderness)

Rating (Out of 5): 4.0

Location: Near Ruch, Ore.

Distance: 3 miles round trip to Frog Pond; 6 miles round-trip to Cameron Meadows

Difficulty: Moderate to Frog Pond; fairly difficult to Cameron Meadows

Camping: Yes in many places

Quick hit: This trail passes two fantastic meadows in the Red Buttes Wilderness on a trail that is at times steep, and at times somewhat overgrown.

These are minor problems, generally, on a trail that makes a near-perfect day hike.

The trail starts by going steep uphill, and after about 1.5 miles reaches Frog Pond. It doesn’t sound overly appealing, but the pond is in fact quite nice, nestled into a large glacial valley with wildflowers everywhere.

The trail is a little bit of a challenge to locate beyond Frog Pond. Stick to the right side of the meadow, and head back toward the upper end. There are stacked rock cairns on the far right side that lead to the the trail’s continuation.

The trail climbs another 1.5 miles through an area with excellent views of the surrounding mountains to Cameron Meadows, a stone amphitheater at about 5,300 feet. There are great views here in you scramble up the rocks a bit, along with some nice wildflower displays during early summer.

The trail does continue on a loop path to the Cameron Meadows Trailhead (two miles down the road from the Frog Pond Trailhead), but this stretch of trail is steep downhill and lacks the charm of the route from Frog Pond Trailhead.

Overall, the hike is pretty but only occasionally spectacular, overgrown but not too annoying and tough but not butt-kicking.

Directions: From Grants Pass, take Oregon Highway 238 to the town of Ruch. From there, follow the Applegate River Road (County Road 859) south for 15 miles, past the dam and reservoir. Beyond Applegate Reservoir, turn left to stay on Applegate River road for about 1.5 miles to a gravel junction.

Swing a sharp right onto Forest Road 1040 and cross down in the area of the Upper Applegate River. Follow the road along the river for five miles. At an intersection, turn left to follow 1040 (ignoring 1035) across a bridge and begin climbing uphill. The trailhead you’re looking for is six miles up the road on the left, and is labeled “Frog Pond Trailhead.” It will be the third trailhead you pass on the road. You’ll know you’re almost there when you cross a creek on the road.

(THE ROUGH IS FAIRLY ROUGH).

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