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Fish Lake Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View of Fish Lake from Rocky Ridge (B. Hope)
Where the Rocky Rim trail passes the east side of Standoff Point (B. Hope)
Highrock Meadow with Highrock Mountain in the distance (B. Hope)
Fish Lake (B. Hope)
Map of the Fish Lake loop hike (B. Hope)
  • Start point: Fish Lake TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Fish Lake Trailhead
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 13 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,900 feet
  • High Point: 6,000 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: Summer, Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The 35,701 acre Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness is located in southwest Oregon, ten miles west of Crater Lake National Park. Elevations range from 3000 to 6800 feet along the divide between the Rogue and Umpqua Rivers. Dense conifer forest gives way to a mosaic of big trees and sub-alpine meadows in the higher elevations. Nearly all trails in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide pass through sub-alpine meadows. Meadow wildflowers are abundant in summer and diverse plant communities provide habitat for everything from hummingbirds to black bears. Water is abundant in streams and a handful of lakes.

Fish Lake is one of the largest and deepest mountain lakes in Oregon, as well as by far the largest in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness. This loop hike is both pretty and spectacular, running past large rock walls (on Rocky Ridge) and providing views of Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen before reaching the lake, which is surrounded by the trail and campsites. There's good fishing in the lake for trout.

From the Beaver Swamp trailhead, climb east on the Rocky Rim trail (#1572) for 3.2 miles to its junction with the Rocky Ridge trail (#1571). Unfortunately, the first 3 miles or so of the #1572 have fallen into disrepair due to a lack of maintenance and by its traverse of a burn caused by a lightning strike in 2002. You'll likely have to plow through brush, climb over downed trees, and dance across eroded tread - so long pants are suggested, as is paying attention to where the tread goes. Once past the burn area, the trail is in great condition (as of 2015) as it contours you along Rocky Ridge, with views to the east and west and a fun (but not at all dangerous) passage through the cliffs on the east side of Standoff Point. About an almost level 3.2 miles from the #1572/1571 junction, you'll come to a junction with the Fish Lake trail (#1570). Turn west here and descend the 1570 past Highrock Meadow (the trail might be faint in a few places - it stays to the right of the meadow) to a junction with the Lakes trail (#1578). Continue on the #1570 for another 1.6 miles, around the lake and past several good campsites, to ajunction with the Beaver Swamp trail (#1569). Ascend the #1569 for 1.2 miles back to the trailhead.


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Hiking Southern Oregon by Art Bernstein and Zach Urness (2014 Edition, Hike #29)
  • 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon by William L. Sullivan (Third Edition, Hike #9)

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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.