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Skull Hollow Loop to Gray Butte

Peak Summited2020 Gray Butte
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadSkull Hollow
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusNo bugs
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition
Additional Informationhttps://www.gaiagps.com/public/hST36ODbTwGzeOUTjLN1r5gr

This was an exploratory hike, being my first time from Skull Hollow. I parked at the large parking lot to the left, just past the entrance to the designated campground. Had I known you could continue driving up the road (quite a way) and park off the road at turnouts, I might've done that to cut back on the dirt road hiking. But I did not. 🙁

On the plus side, I discovered there is a lot of dispersed camping along there, so I'll definitely be back to camp next time.

I started out with a misstep. The Cole Loop Trail goes around Gray Butte, and there was a trailhead right in the parking area. The trail started climbing, and I didn't do a map check until almost a mile in, when I discovered this was not the direction I wanted to take this trail. My map showed a double-track that led back to the trail I wanted to be on, but I didn't find it. I ended up taking a use trail back down to the dirt road, and started following that up.

I created a loop out of this, by taking the road around to the saddle, then turning left on a jeep trail. This wound around the north side of Gray Butte, then climbed steeply uphill (up to 40% slope). Got to the summit around 9:30am. It was clear but super windy. Took a few obligatory photos and headed back down the gravel road that winds down the south side of the butte.

Eventually joined up with the Cole Loop Trail (the segment I had originally planned to take) and back down to the road, then the road to the Skull Hollow trailhead parking.

8.6 miles, 3.5 hours.

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