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Azalea Lake via Steve Fork Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Trail sign 3 miles in from the trailhead (B. Hope)
View of Azalea Lake and Mt. McLoughlin (B. Hope)
Azalea Lake (B. Hope)
Map of route to Azalea Lake from Steve Fork TH (B. Hope)
  • Start point: Steve Fork TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • Ending Point: Steve Fork Trailhead
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 13 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2,400 feet
  • High Point: 6,000 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: June, July
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

Azalea Lake is the largest body of water in the highly remote and strangely beautiful Red Buttes Wilderness. It is the source of the Butte Fork of the Applegate River. It is a broad, round, fairly shallow, but beautiful, subalpine pool set beneath the gray bluffs of Figurehead Mountain. A trail cirles the lake and camping and camp fires are banned within this loop. Campers are supposed to tent in the sloping area west of the loop (but be careful to stay off areas closed for restoration). This is a locally popular dayhike and overnight backpack destination. It is also one of the key water sources on the Siskiyou-Boundary Trail.

From the trailhead, go south on the Steve Fork Trail (#905) for 0.8 miles to its junction with the Sucker Gap Trail (#906) [this is also where you cross into California]. Do not turn on to Trial #906 but rather continue south on the #905 as it climbs out of the Steve Fork Creek watershed to a junction, after 3 miles, with the Azalea Lake Trail (#955) coming in from the Fir Glade trailhead. Turn south (right) on the #955 and follow it S and then SE for 2.5 miles to a saddle at 6,000', then descend 1 mile to the lake. There are some great views to be had between the 905/955 junction and the 6,000' saddle - with Preston Peak readily apparent on the western horizon.

You can also reach Azalea Lake from the Fir Glade trailhead via the Azalea Lake trail (#955); this route involves less elevation gain.


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • The Siskiyou Crest: Hikes, History & Ecology by Luke Ruediger (page 145)
  • 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon by William L. Sullivan (Third Edition, Hike #69)
  • Hiking Southern Oregon by Art Bernstein & Zach Urness (2014 edition, Hike #65)
  • Rogue River National Forest (Oregon) Location map (very useful for making sense of the forest roads)

More Links

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.