Gearhart Mountain Wilderness
|Gearhart Mountain Wilderness|
The Gearhart Mountain Wilderness
|Location||Lake / Klamath counties, Oregon, USA|
|Nearest city||Bly, Oregon|
|Area||22,823 acres (9,236 ha)|
|Governing body||U.S. Forest Service|
Gearhart Mountain Wilderness is a wilderness area located within the Fremont–Winema National Forest in Lake County and Klamath County in south-central Oregon. This area was established in 1943 as a Wild Area and designated as wilderness with the Wilderness Act of 1964. In 1984, an additional 4,144 acres (1,677 ha) were added for a total of 22,823 acres (9,236 ha). The wilderness is entirely within the Bly Ranger District.
Gearhart Mountain was named for James P. Gearhart and William H. Gearhart, two brothers who raised and traded cattle in the area from about 1873 to 1882.
The Gearhart Mountain Wilderness is in the desert/coastal transition zone of south-central Oregon, on the borders of Lake and Klamath counties. At 8,364 feet (2,549 m), Gearhart Mountain is the highest point in this wilderness of high, mountain meadows, cirques, and glacial valleys. Views from the top of Gearhart Mountain range from Steens Mountain to the east, the Cascade peaks to the west, Lassen Peak in California to the south, and the Three Sisters in the north. The headwaters of numerous small streams lie at the base of many of the cliffs and ridges.
The Gearhart Mountain Wilderness is part of a continuous, dry, pine forest covering the transition zone. Differences in species are primarily dependent on water availability. The lower slopes tend to be dominated by white fir with a mix of ponderosa pine, whitebark pine, and lodgepole pines, while the higher elevations are covered with pure stands of lodgepole and whitebark pine. The meadows scattered throughout the wilderness are characterized by lush, green ground cover, stands of aspen, and a multitude of wildflowers. The Gearhart Mountain Wilderness does have some stands of old growth forest. However, in recent years, a large area of the forest on Gearhart Mountain and surrounding areas have succumbed to the mountain pine beetle, and large dead stands of ponderosa and lodgepole pine can be seen.
A variety of wildlife can be found in the Gearhart Mountain Wilderness. These include deer, coyote, elk, black bear and mountain lion, and a wide variety of birds such as woodpecker, chickadee, finch, jay, junco, raven and hawk. Rainbow and brook trout inhabit the lower levels of some of the area streams, and Blue Lake is stocked yearly with rainbow trout.
Popular recreational activities in the Gearhart Mountain Wilderness include hiking, camping, swimming, fishing, wildlife watching, and horseback riding. Approximately 20 miles (32 km) of established trails cross the wilderness, including the popular Gearhart Mountain trail.
- Gearhart Mountain Wilderness, Oregon - GORP
- McArthur, Lewis A.; Lewis L. McArthur (2003) . Oregon Geographic Names (Seventh Edition ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society Press. ISBN 0-87595-277-1 (trade paperback), ISBN 0-87595-278-X (hardcover).
- Gearhart Mountain Wilderness - Wilderness.net
- Fremont-Winema National Forests - Gearhart Mountain Wilderness
- Media related to Gearhart Mountain Wilderness at Wikimedia Commons