Hinkle Lake (Southern Oregon) 12-Jul-2019

After a month on a raft, we needed a short, but interesting, hike to get our legs back and a 5 mile out-and-back stroll to Hinkle Lake seemed ideal for that purpose.  The 425-acre Hinkle Lake Botanical Area is located in the headwaters of the Steve Fork of the Applegate River, just north of the Red Buttes Wilderness.  It’s in Oregon but just barely.  The meadow system surrounding the lake is one of the largest in the Red Buttes region and hosts several rare and endemic plant species.  We didn’t see any of those, mainly because our full attention was captured by the wildflower-laden meadows around the lake.

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Azalea Lake via Steve Fork (Red Buttes Wilderness) 06-Mar-2015

Azalea Lake Steve Fork Red Buttes Wilderness California

The Steve Fork Trailhead in Oregon provides relatively easy access to the north side of California’s Red Buttes Wilderness (where, because of the absurdly low snow year, I have been able to hike during much of this winter). It’s also an access point to the Boundary Trail, which I have also been exploring piece-meal this winter. Steve Fork is also an alternate trailhead for wonderful little Azalea Lake, which we had visited before via the Fir Glade Trailhead. So today’s hike was a twofer – check out the Steve Fork Trail (USFS #905) and visit Azalea Lake from a different trailhead. {UPDATE: The area around Azalea Lake was burned by the 2017 Knox Fire.}

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Azalea Lake from Fir Glade (Red Buttes Wilderness) 29-May-2014

Azalea Lake Fir Glade Red Buttes Wilderness California

There are a lot of trails and hiking opportunities in the mountains west of Medford, so we let the presence of a lake (which are not plentiful in the Siskiyous) guide our choice for our first hike in this area (#68 in Sullivan’s Southern Oregon hiking guide (Third Edition)). And, unlike Wednesday’s snow storms, this day was full bluebird – clear, sunny, about 70ºF, gentle breezes. The roads – both paved and gravel – to the Fir Glade Trailhead off Forest Road 1040-800 in Oregon were in great shape and we were soon on our way to wonderful little Azalea Lake. {UPDATE: The area around Azalea Lake was burned by the 2017 Knox Fire.}

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