Big Craggies, Oregon, June 2019

On Saturday afternoon, June 23, I rendezvoused with three peakbagging friends, Caleb Morris, Michael Berry, and Michael Wanberg above the confluence of the Illinois and Rogue Rivers. We then drove to our campsite deep in the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest. We had come to climb Big Craggies, a peak with only 4619 feet of elevation, but 2099 feet of topographic prominence and the 63rd most prominent peak in Oregon.

Looking east along the ridge towards Green Craggie, our first summit of the day
Looking east along the ridge towards Green Craggie, our first summit of the day

Sunday morning we got an early start and drove to the end of a minor forest road. That put us on a west ridge that led east over Green Craggie and Peak 4150 towards Big Craggies.

Looking east towards Big Craggies and Peak 4150 from the Green Craggie
Looking east towards Big Craggies and Peak 4150 from the Green Craggie

From the summit of Green Craggie we could finally see Big Craggies. Our route followed an open ridge and steep slope to the summit of Peak 4150, then steeply descended to the saddle on its far side, and finally climbed up the steep south face of Big Craggies.

Big Craggies from the summit of Peak 4150
Big Craggies from the summit of Peak 4150

Our route had a lot of up and down but routefinding was easy, the sky clear, and the sun was warm but not hot. Earlier reports had described the ridge as very brushy with limited views of the peaks. The Chetco Bar Fire of 2017 cleared the ridge and slopes of vegetation at that time, but it is slowly recovering. If Big Craggies is on your wish list, I recommend you visit it soon.

Michael Berry leads the way up the southwest slope of Big Craggies
Michael Berry leads the way up the southwest slope of Big Craggies

We generally went at our own pace but regrouped at the summits and saddles. We regrouped again a few hundred feet below the summit of Big Craggies and shared the last climb to the summit together.

I stand on the summit of Big Craggies, surrounded by the Siskiyou Mountains (Caleb Morris photo)
I stand on the summit of Big Craggies, surrounded by the Siskiyou Mountains (Caleb Morris photo)

My friends let me reach the summit first. This climb of Big Craggies completed my project of climbing all 74 Oregon peaks with at least 2000 feet of prominence. It had been a multiyear project for me, one I did not expect to complete when I first started it.

Michael Wanberg and Caleb Morris on the summit of Big Craggies
Michael Wanberg and Caleb Morris on the summit of Big Craggies

We enjoyed the views from the summit of Big Craggies. The Siskiyou Mountains surrounded us and we could see the Pacific Ocean in the distance to the west. We celebrated in our own ways but knew we had a strenuous hike out and a climb is not completed until then.

Columbia tiger lily on the western ridge of Green Craggie
Columbia tiger lily on the western ridge of Green Craggie

We returned to our cars by the same route, descending and ascending time after time. I was glad to finally reach my Jeep as my hamstrings were beginning to cramp. We celebrated a last time and went our own ways, knowing we would see each other again on other peaks.

Paul McClellan

About Paul McClellan

I had the good fortune to have spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, where I discovered the joys and addiction of hiking and climbing in the Cascade Mountains and other mountain ranges in the Western United States.
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