Red Buttes

Lilypad Lake

  • Moderate (to Lilypad Lake)
  • 8.2 miles round-trip
  • 1440 feet elevation gain
  • Open June to mid-November
  • Use: hikers, horses

Lakes are relatively rare in the Siskiyous, but the Pacific Crest Trail passes near two as it skirts this rocky, double-topped mountain—the ruddy landmark of the Red Buttes Wilderness.

The buttes are made of peridotite, a red, iron-rich rock created when seafloor sand and mud are baked together inside the earth. The 200 million-year-old rock tells a lot about the history of this range. The Siskiyous formed as the North American continent crunched westward over the Pacific plate, scraping off seafloor sediments and volcanic island chains like cake batter on a spatula.

Patches of white marble on the side of Red Buttes are the remains of seashells, cooked and contorted by pressure. Outcrops of greasy-looking, greenish-black serpentine rock along the Pacific Crest Trail are the lubricant that formed between the sliding plates of continent and seafloor. An old road paralleling the PCT was built by miners searching for gold, chromium, and other heavy metals churned up by the titanic collision of crustal plates.

To find the trailhead …

… If you have the time, scramble another 0.5 mile down this steep, rocky side trail to Echo Lake’s shore and a wildflower meadow with blue gentians.

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon.