Ascent of Pioneer Butte on 2018-04-26

Climber: JohnE Sarna

Others in Party:April Sarna <10273> with our horses
Billy and Pirate
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, April 26, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Pioneer Butte
    Elevation:1573 ft / 479 m

Ascent Trip Report

While Pioneer is more easily accessible from either end of Old Peak Road, we took a much more interesting route up, all along gravel/dirt logging roads from Hinkle Road off Alsea Hwy to Old Peak Road. This route involves about 1400 feet elevation gain over 6 miles. To start, one can park on Hinkle Rd just off Alsea, taking the first right on Hinkle past their gate and into the Starker Forest, for which you should have a permit from Starker for access. Starker permits are easy to get if you just stop by their office off Philomath Hwy when they're open on weekdays. Following the GPS route I loaded below, you eventually get to Old Peak Road, following it toward Mary's Peak. Along this road, you'll see signs for the "Corvallis to Coast Trail," which follows this road from Alsea Hwy and continues up to Woods Creek Road, quite a bit further up than the turnoff for Pioneer. There's only local traffic on this stretch of Old Peak Road, being gated not far above where we came on it, about a mile before the turnoff for Pioneer. The summit is in a clear-cut, so visibility of the surrounding countryside was great, though, as we arrived, the clouds from an impending storm were already dropping down to swirl about and cover Mary's Peak -- from our elevation on up. It was also quite windy and cold on top, so we hurriedly turned our horses around and started on down. Of course, one may ask if it's fair to claim a peak on horseback. My answer would be, first, my horse, Pirate, is getting on, so I've had to walk him up a good part of the way, and, second, it's quite a bit of work getting horses saddled up and to the trailhead, besides the work of riding. In any case, my wife wants to ride horses and I want to climb peaks, so this is our compromise. However, this ascent in particular presented a more problematic challenge, where a few trees had fallen across the normally clear logging roads. On the way up, we'd bushwhacked the horses through the woods around the fallen trees. Unfortunately, the horses just would not follow us off the road there on the way down, it being a steep slope down with a lot of brush on old fallen logs. Maybe they were also tired. In any case, they became more recalcitrant after we tried to force them over the fallen trees, where my horse got stuck and had to be extricated (try backing off an 800 lb. animal with a leg stuck between the branches of a fallen tree). Luckily, I was only a couple miles from the locked gate on this side of Hinkle Road, so, while my wife waited with the horses, I walked out to return with a chain saw. After sawing through the tree trunks so they simply lay on the road (instead of knee to thigh high) and tossing some branches over the side, the horses simply stepped over them, and we were clear to continue on down before the dark hit or the rain came on.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1813 ft / 551 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1813 ft / 551 m
    Round-Trip Distance:15.4 mi / 24.8 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Pleasant, Windy, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1413 ft / 430 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1233 ft / 376 m; Extra: 180 ft / 54m
    Loss on way in:180 ft / 54 m
    Distance:6 mi / 9.7 km
    Route:thru Starker Forest & up Old Peak Rd
    Start Trailhead:Alsea Hwy and Hinkle Road  340 ft / 103 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1633 ft / 497 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1233 ft / 376 m; Extra: 400 ft / 121m
    Gain on way out:400 ft / 121 m
    Distance:9.4 mi / 15.1 km
    Route:same as route up
    End Trailhead:Alsea Hwy and Hinkle Road  340 ft / 103 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by JohnE Sarna
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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