The peak of Soda Mountain stands 6,091 feet above sea level and is the sight of one of the few active fire lookouts in Southern Oregon. Soda Mountain – the heart of the Soda Mountain Wilderness – sits near the Oregon/California border on the eastern edge of the Siskiyou Mountains where they converge with the Cascade Mountain Range, just southwest of Ashland. The trail to the top is relatively short, 4.2 miles, and easy in summer (it is 7.2 miles in winter). Those possessing vehicles with good ground clearance can drive all the way to the top. I gave it a try in my Subaru Legacy, but there was a particularly rough patch of road that made me decide to turn back. I'm glad I did, because the hike was nice, wandering through mountain prairies and woods.
At the top you'll find one of the best views in the area. From Soda Mountain you can see Mt. Shasta, Mt. McLouglin, Mt. Ashland, Pilot Rock, the rim of Crater Lake, and many other surrounding mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers. You can also visit the fire lookout and have a chat with the ranger. The lookout was rebuilt in 1962 and is stuffed starting in the spring and into the fall – depending on rainfall.
Tips: The Pacific Crest Trail runs near the starting point of the Soda Mountain Trail. So, if you're hiking along the PCT you can make a short diversion to the peak. Also, you can follow the PCT east to nearby Hobart Butte, 5,187 ft, which overlooks Hobart Lake.
How to get there
From Ashland head east on Hwy 66 (Green Springs Hwy) for 15 miles. The access road for Soda Mountain, number 39-3E-32.3, will be on the south side of the highway, about 200 feet before the Green Springs Mountain Summit sign. You will follow the Soda Mountain access road for about 3.5 miles to the second power line crossing at a grassy meadow, where the PCT also crosses. You first follow the PCT on the right hand (south) side of the road up hill. Towards the summit you will end getting off the trail and onto the road that leads to the peak.