The section of the Pacific Crest Trail that runs over the shoulder of 7,340-foot Brown Mountain is a spectacular ride on a path that's a masterpiece of trail engineering. This stretch of the PCT runs across massive lava flows of tumbled basalt boulders, so trail builders had to dynamite their way through the lava and bring in tons of cinders to fill in the trail tread between the boulders. The result is a delightfully horse-friendly trail.
The trail tread is smooth even though it runs across impressive rock avalanches. And the open expanses of lava offer stunning views of nearby Mt. McLoughlin.
Brown Mountain is located about midway between Medford and Klamath Falls at the crest of the Cascades off Hwy. 140. The mountain is a cinder cone on top of a shield volcano, its sides striped by flows that are relatively recent in geologic terms. As the lava flowed, its surface cooled and hardened, then broke apart as it was pushed up by the lava that continued to flow beneath it, creating the impressive basalt flows we see today.
The ride over Brown Mountain starts at Summit Sno-Park, just off Hwy. 140. The first 4 miles of trail offer expansive views of Mt. McLoughlin as you ride to the trail’s highest-elevation point on Brown Mountain’s shoulder. After that, the trail gently descends to a junction with the Brown Mountain Trail #1005.
The Pacific Crest Trail over Brown Mountain is covered in Riding Southern Oregon Horse Trails by Kim McCarrel, available at www.NWHorseTrails.com.