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Fourmile Lake Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Squaw Lake northwest of Fourmile Lake (B. Hope)
Island Lake in the South Blue Lakes Group (B. Hope)
Mt. McLoughlin across Fourmile Lake from the Badger Lake trail (B. Hope)
Map of the Fourmile Lake loop hike (B. Hope)
  • Start point: Fourmile Lake TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Fourmile Lake Trailhead
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 17 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,500 feet
  • High Point: 6,400 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer, Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No (can be on Summer weekends)

Contents

Hike Description

Congress designated the Sky Lakes Wilderness in 1984 and it now covers 113,849 acres. It stretches along the crest of the volcanic Cascade Mountains from the border of Crater Lake National Park on the north to State Highway 140 in the south, and includes three major lake (former glacial) basins: Seven Lakes, Sky Lakes, and Blue Canyon. From the rugged summit of Mount McLoughlin (9,495’) in at its southern end, this wilderness extends northward into an area of broad plateau-like ridges, dotted with many lakes. With its numerous lakes, easy to moderate elevation changes, generally good trails, and plethora of campsites, this wilderness is an ideal backpacking and dayhiking destination.

This loop allows you to visit the largest lake in the wilderness (Fourmile), as well as a number of lakes in the South Blue Lake Group and southestern parts of the wilderness. This is a moderately-graded loop on generally good trails (but whose naming and numbering can be confusing because two different national forests are involved) - it is rated "difficult" only because of its length. However, as a two- or three-day backpack, it would be a very mellow experience. In years with "normal" rain and snow, expect volumes of mosquitos in July and August.

From the trailhead parking lot, go west to the last of the campsites and you should come across the Twin Ponds (#993) trail. Follow it northwest for 3.3 miles, past Squaw Lake, to its junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Head north on the PCT for 1.5 miles to a junction with the Cat Hill Way trail (#992). Follow the Cat Way Hill trail northwest up the hill. This way trail crests at about 6300' and provides another of those elusive views - this time of the east side of Mt. McLoughlin (which doesn't look as cool as it's W side - the view you get from I-5). About 0.5 mile north of where the way trail crests, you'll come to a poorly signed junction with a trail that drops northeast into Blue Canyon. The Forest Service calls this the Meadows Lakes trail but gives it the same number (#976) as the Blue Canyon trail coming from the Blue Canyon trailhead. Fight the bureaucratic confusion and just follow it downhill for about 1.5 miles to a junction, between Blue and Horseshoe Lakes, with what most maps show as the #982 trail. Follow this trail (the #982) about 3.5 miles east, past Island Lake and the Judge Waldo Tree, to its junction with the Red Lake trail (#987) and follow that trail briefly (0.2 miles) south to its junction with the PCT. Continue south (straight) on what is now the Badger Lake trail (#3759) and follow that trail south for 5.3 miles past Long, Badger, and Woodpecker Lakes to the east side of the Fourmile Lake campground. There is a trail around the campground to the trailhead but it's easier (and less confusing) to do the short walk along the road through the campground.

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon by William L. Sullivan (Third Edition, Hike #48)

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Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.