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Little Strawberry Lake Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

East Ridge, Little Strawberry Lake (bobcat)
Strawberry Lake, Strawberry Mt. Wilderness (bobcat)
Lewis' monkey flower (Erythranthe lewisii) Strawberry Lake (bobcat)
Monkshood - white form (Aconitum columbianum), Little Strawberry Lake (bobcat)
The hike to Little Strawberry Lake (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Strawberry Basin Trailhead
  • Ending Point: Little Strawberry Lake
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 6.5 miles
  • High Point: 6,920 feet
  • Elevation gain: 1395 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes, for older kids
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: On summer weekends


Hike Description

This is by far the most popular hike in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, and there's a reason for it. The hike takes in two mountain lakes, the first one created by a landslide and the second one nestled below a high wall in a glacial cirque; in addition, there's a waterfall, plenty of wildflowers, and an alpine meadow from which you may spot mountain goats or other critters. The 2015 Canyon Creek Complex Fire, which burned over 100,000 acres in and near the western section of the wilderness, did not reach the Strawberry Lake area.

It's only 1.2 miles from the trailhead to Strawberry Lake if you only want a quick outing into the wilderness.

At the kiosk at the parking area, fill out your wilderness permit, and then hike up the Strawberry Basin Trail #375 in a coniferous woodland carpeted with huckleberry bushes. You'll enter wilderness only about 200 yards from the trailhead. The tread continues up this slope under grand fir, western larch, and ponderosa and lodgepole pine, and makes a couple of wide switchbacks. About a mile from the trailhead, come to the first Strawberry Basin-Slide Basin Trail Junction and keep right. After traversing along a slope, hike above the remains of the landslide that created Strawberry Lake to keep right again at the second Strawberry Basin-Slide Basin Trail Junction. Next, stay left at the Strawberry Basin-Strawberry Lake Trail North Junction to head along the east shore of Strawberry Lake. Shortly come to another trail junction: go right here to take the trail which hugs the shore. There are a number of popular campsites tucked into the woods here on the left side of the trail. You'll get views across Strawberry Lake to the rocky ridges on its west side: the ridges conceal any vista towards Strawberry Mountain, which lies behind.

At the marshy south shore of Strawberry Lake, arrive at the Strawberry Basin-Strawberry Lake Trail South Junction. Make a left here and then, after 45 yards, go right to join the main Strawberry Basin Trail as it crosses Little Strawberry Creek and then heads up the Strawberry Creek valley. After about 3/4 mile you'll arrive below Strawberry Falls, which splashes about 50 feet down a rock face. The trail makes two big switchbacks from here to cross Strawberry Creek on a footbridge and come to the Strawberry Basin-Little Strawberry Lake Trail Junction.

Make a left here to recross Strawberry Creek and continue hiking in a dry forest increasingly dominated by ponderosa pine. It's only 0.6 miles on a gentle uphill trail to Little Strawberry Lake, a secluded gem sparkling below high ramparts that retain large snow fields into the summer. The twin prominences of the Rabbit Ears rear right above the lake, while to your right is the summit of Indian Spring Butte. You can make your way around the lake, passing a few campsites; however, parts of the alpine meadows are very marshy, there's the talus below the cliffs, and you'll endure scrambling over much deadfall. Stay a while a look around: you may spot mountain goats on the slopes above or a deer grazing near the lake. From the talus end of the lake, you'll be able to see Strawberry Mountain. Wildflowers, including monkshood, arrow-leaf groundsel, and lupine, abound during the summer.

On the return, you can complete the loop around Strawberry Lake by going left and then left again at the Strawberry Basin-Strawberry Lake Trail South Junction. This is a longer tour around the lakeshore, but it offers vistas towards the high ridge to the east and crosses the lake outlet, which is actually invisible as the lake water drains under the now vegetated landslide debris.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Restrooms at trailhead
  • Fee campground at trailhead
  • Self-issued wilderness permit


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Strawberry Lake Trail #375 (USFS)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Strawberry Mountain and Monument Rock Wilderness
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service; Bureau of Land Management: Southern Blue Mountains
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Malheur National Forest

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Eastern Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Trips & Trails: Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Atlas of Oregon Wilderness by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon's Ancient Forests: A Hiking Guide by Chandra LeGue
  • Hiking Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hike America: Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking Oregon's Geology by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon by Douglas Lorain
  • Eastern Oregon Wilderness Areas by Donna Ikenberry Aitkenhead
  • Oregon's Wilderness Areas by George Wuerthner
  • Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest by David L. Anderson
  • Hiking Central Oregon & Beyond by Virginia Meissner
  • 100 Oregon Hiking Trails by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

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.