Sky Lakes Wilderness: TH ReCap 14-Sep-2015

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VanMarmot
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Sky Lakes Wilderness: TH ReCap 14-Sep-2015

Post by VanMarmot » September 14th, 2015, 8:34 am

Since moving down to southern Oregon last winter, we've spent a lot of time exploring many of the nearby trails. Much fun has been had doing so. :D Because of its size, proximity, and variety of terrain (lakes, mountains, views, PCT, etc., etc.), we seem to have spent a lot of that time in the Sky Lakes Wilderness. I therefore thought it might be helpful for folks thinking (as you should be!) of visiting this wilderness to summarize the various hikes we did in this area during the past summer. Basically, if you like lakes, good trails, easy backpacking, the option of dayhikes, overnight or longer trips, and a choice of campsites, this is the wilderness for you. Yes, the bugs can be horrendously evil in July and August (but not this year thanks to the drought); however, I'm not sure you should let bugs rule your hiking choices.

So from N (near Crater Lake NP) to S (near Hwy 140), here are the THs and our TRs for this wilderness. These THs exist to serve hikers, backpackers, equestrians, and hunters but we've (obviously) focused on those most favorable to dayhikers and backpackers.

Red Blanket TH

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Stuart Falls

This used to provide access to the popular Stuart Falls area but the road (FR 6205) is currently blocked - but may reopen - and the trail is badly damaged - and there are no plans to fix it. So be careful if you take this trail (be prepared to walk a road for 5 mi RT just to get to the TH)! Also note that the trails comprising the loop around Lucky Meadow were also damaged by the 2008 Lonesome Complex fire, have suffered from fallen trees, and may not be easily passable.
Hike #42 in Sullivan's Southern Oregon guide, 3rd edition
USFS #1090

Tom and Jerry & Middle Fork THs
We didn't visit these this year because they enter a portion of the wilderness that was devastated by - and has yet to recover from - the 2008 Lonesome Complex fire. There are also no lakes or peaks nearby.
USFS Tom & Jerry TH
USFS Middle Fork TH

Sevenmile Marsh TH
We finally got around to visiting this trailhead and found it to be good way into the northern part of the wilderness. It's a longer drive from the west (but not from Highway 97) but an easier way into the Seven Lakes Basin than from the Seven Lakes TH to the west.
Hike #44 in Sullivan's Southern Oregon guide, 3rd edition
USFS Seven Mile Marsh TH

Alta Lake TH

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Alta Lake

We didn't visit this TH either but did access a part of the Alta Lake trail (#979) from the Seven Lakes TH. While #979 was in good condition (seemingly due to volunteer efforts at keeping it clear), Alta Lake is much easier to get to via the Seven Lakes trail. And Alta Lake is a gem worthy of a visit or, better, an overnight backpack.
Hike #43 in Sullivan's Southern Oregon guide, 3rd edition
USFS Alta Lk TH

Seven Lakes TH

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South Lake

This is a very popular TH which provides easy access from the W to the Seven Lakes Basin and Devils Pk.
Hike #43 in Sullivan's Southern Oregon guide, 3rd edition
USFS #981

Nannie & Cherry Ck THs

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Trapper Lake

Nannie Ck is by far the more popular of these two THs, as it's higher and closer to the lakes E of Luther Mtn, in the center of the wilderness. Both of these also provide access to the Dwarf Lakes Basin.
Hike #44 in Sullivan's Southern Oregon guide, 3rd edition
USFS Nannie Ck TH
USFS Cherry Ck TH

Upper South Fork TH
Another one we didn't visit, again because it seems like a harder way to get to the Blue Lakes Basin in the southern part of the wilderness.
USFS Upper S Fk TH

Cold Springs TH

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Heavenly Twin Lakes

Another popular TH (with amenities!) providing easy access to the Dwarf Lakes Basin and also to the lakes near Luther Mtn.
Hike #49 in Sullivan's Southern Oregon guide, 3rd edition
USFS Cold Springs TH

Blue Canyon TH

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Island Lake

A little bit more driving, but then very easy access from the W to the Blue Lakes Basin and the Judge Waldo Tree. You can also access this basin from Fourmile Lk, but this TH provides more direct access.
Hike #46 in Sullivan's Southern Oregon guide, 3rd edition
USFS Blue Cyn TH


Twin Ponds TH
Another one we didn't access because its easier to access Fourmile Lake (and the trails that start there) from Hwy 140.
USFS Twin Ponds TH

Fourmile Lake TH

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Fourmile Lake & Mt. McLoughlin

A very popular camping, boating, and hiking spot, easily accessible from Hwy 140. Finding the TH from the parking lot can be a little confusing since it's behind one of the campsites. This TH made for the start of a fun, long loop through the Blue Lake Basin using the PCT, but if you just want to get right to the lakes in that basin, then I'd recommend using the Blue Canyon TH.
Hike #48 in Sullivan's Southern Oregon guide, 3rd edition
USFS Fourmile Lk TH

Mt. McLoughlin TH

Image
Mt. McLoughlin

McLoughlin is the tallest peak in southern Oregon and a worthy hike/scramble any time of the year. Catch the weather right, and the views from the top are ENORMOUS! But pay attention to the signs the USFS has posted (in two places) about getting to and from the summit. When snow covers the approach trail or the upper slopes, it's easy to get lost in the forest or descend the "easy" (but wrong) S side all the way to Hwy 140 (oops!). Don't make the local SAR teams work any harder! ;)
Hike #47 in Sullivan's Southern Oregon guide, 3rd edition
USFS #3716
Last edited by VanMarmot on October 25th, 2018, 4:56 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Koda
Posts: 3437
Joined: June 5th, 2009, 7:54 am

Re: Sky Lakes Wilderness: TH ReCap 14-Sep-2015

Post by Koda » September 14th, 2015, 9:03 am

VanMarmot wrote: Mt. McLoughlin TH

Image Mt. McLoughlin

McLoughlin is the tallest peak in southern Oregon and a worthy hike/scramble any time of the year. Catch the weather right, and the views from the top are ENORMOUS! But pay attention to the signs the USFS has posted (in two places) about getting to and from the summit. When snow covers the approach trail or the upper slopes, it's easy to get lost in the forest or descend the "easy" (but wrong) S side all the way to Hwy 140 (oops!). Don't make the local SAR teams work any harder! ;)
Hike #47 in Sullivan's Southern Oregon guide, 3rd edition
USFS #3716
McLoughlin TR
What a beautiful mountain, I've always wanted to ski from its summit I need to pull that one out of the bucket someday.... and add a summer backpack to the bucket list now, thanks for sharing.
lightweight, cheap, strong... pick 2

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miah66
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Joined: July 6th, 2009, 8:00 pm

Re: Sky Lakes Wilderness: TH ReCap 14-Sep-2015

Post by miah66 » September 18th, 2015, 10:37 am

Now you've put together the structure for a new guidebook: "Van Marmot's Guide to the Sky Lake Wilderness" 8-)
"The top...is not the top" - Mile...Mile & a Half

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McChaix
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Re: Sky Lakes Wilderness: TH ReCap 14-Sep-2015

Post by McChaix » September 19th, 2015, 2:21 pm

Van M., those are some very pretty lakes! This was the year to get there. We may have a very wet winter they say, which means extra skeeters next summer. Plan for September trips now!

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