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Hikers along the trail to Boccard Point. [Photo by Lee Juillerat]

Views are the draw on monument hike

Depending on your point of view, there can be many reasons why some hikes are more satisfying than others.

Points of view are reasons why hikes to Little Pilot Rock and, if you have the time and inclination, farther on to Boccard Point, are more than satisfying. Both offer overlooks that offer golly-whiz views of Mount McLoughlin, Mount Ashland, Mount Eddy, the Trinity Alps, Marble Mountains, Pilot Rock and, most dramatically of all, Mount Shasta.

It's about 2.2 miles from the popular Powerline Trailhead off Soda Mountain Road near the Greensprings Summit. The Pacific Crest Trail goes east about a mile to Hobart Bluff, itself a pleasant hike. But the PCT route to Little Pilot Rock and, farther on, Boccard Point, goes west from the trailhead, entering the Soda Mountain Wilderness, part of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

While the viewpoints are the payoffs, other high points are plentiful: fields and meadows lush with seasonal wildflowers — various shades of paintbrush, purple larkspur, iris, wild onion, and more — along with mixed conifer forests with pines and giant firs.

It's easy to miss a side trail that angles off the PCT — our group leader found a sign fallen near some tree stumps. The not-so-obvious route climbs the hillside to Little Pilot Rock. At an elevation of 5,660 feet, Little Pilot is not a classic "peak" but instead is a cliff with several vantages that provide stunning views of deeply recessed valleys and a panorama of snow-tipped peaks and mountains. There's more than one point of view.

Some in our group doubled back to the trailhead, but after retreating to the PCT most of us continued west. Instead of following the PCT to a trail junction to Boccard Point, we scrambled down a steep shortcut scouted out earlier by trip leader Hans Kuhr that bushwhacked steeply downhill to meet the Boccard Trail, which saved about a mile of hiking.

Like the trail to the Little Pilot cutoff, the route to Boccard Point provides ample reason to stop and gawk at lush, flower-filled meadows and, in shaded areas, mariposa lilies and white, pink and purple trilliums.

It's easy to see why Bruce Boccard's favorite place in the Soda Mountain region was the point he called Juniper Ridge. Located on a southwest-facing, 5,720-foot ridge of Soda Mountain, the stony crag provides eye-popping views of nearby Northern California valleys, distant mountains in California and Oregon and, most of all, towering, imposing Mount Shasta.

Boccard, according to Oregon Geographic Names, was a wildlife biologist and environmentalist who worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before starting his own consulting firm in Ashland. Boccard, who died in Ashland in 1987, is credited as being the first person to recognize Soda Mountain's unique biological and geographic diversity, a region where three mountain ranges — the Klamath, Siskiyou and Cascades — merge. To honor Boccard, his favorite place was officially named Boccard Point by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names in 1997.

Boccard's favorite point of view is now one shared by others.

— Reach freelance writer Lee Juillerat at 337lee337@charter.net or 541-880-4139.

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