Red Buttes (Red Buttes Wilderness)

Rating (Out of 5): 4.5

Location: Near Ruch, Ore.

Distance: 5 miles round-trip to Echo Lake overlook; 8 miles to Lily Pad Lake; 9.5 to Kangaroo Spring

Difficulty: Easy to moderately difficult

Camping: Yes in multiple places along the trail

Quick hit: This fantastic trail runs into the namesake peaks of the Red Buttes Wilderness, which rise above the wilderness like reddish-orange pyramids.

The trail begins at Cook and Green Pass and follows the Pacific Crest Trail on an open route that offers views of Mount Shasta, the Trinity Alps and the Marble Mountains of Northern California.

After about 1.5 miles the trail looks out upon the Red Buttes themselves, then gets progressively closer. At the 2.5 mile mark, the trail crosses an overlook and scramble trail for Echo Lake in a deep valley below.

The trail crosses an old mining road at the 3.1 mile mark, then hits Lilly Pad Lake at the four mile mark (a scenic lake but not very good for swimming).

Beyond Lilly Pad Lake is Kangaroo Spring, a bright orange cathedral of rock at the 4.8 mile mark. Kangaroo Spring makes a nice place for lunch or to camp.

Directions: From the town of Ruch, Ore. take Upper Applegate Road south toward Applegate Reservoir. Once you reach Applegate Reservoir, continue along the lake toward its top end to a T-junction. Turn left at the T-Junction to a gravel road intersection about two miles up the road. Continue straight from the gravel intersection on Forest Road 1050 for one mile. After one mile, turn right on rough and steep uphill Forest Road 1055. Follow this very rough road not suitable for low passenger cars for about nine miles to a pass where multiple roads and trails branch off. This is Cook and Green Pass. Choose the section of the Pacific Crest Trail — marked by a white diamond — that heads uphill through a forested ridge and is paralleled by an old rough road (it’s the trail on the right-hand side as you drive up).

The other trail, going in the opposite direction, goes toward the Copper Buttes and it more open at the beginning.

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