Hiking Southern Oregon: 25 Hikes (February 2020)

To celebrate our 600th post on WordPress, we’re highlighting a select few of the many hikes we’ve enjoyed here in Southwest Oregon.

As we’ve perused lists of Oregon’s greatest hikes, we’ve come to notice that these lists are heavily skewed, with a few exceptions, toward hikes near Portland.  The Portland metro area’s greater population helps if a list is based on some kind of vote.  And proximity to its major airport helps get votes from those who drop in for a brief Western adventure.  Even some of the classics, like the Wallowas in Eastern Oregon or the Three Sisters in Central Oregon, often don’t make these lists because they are too far away.  So a lot of “great” hikes get done near Portland – the state’s most populated town. And then the complaints roll in about how there’s no parking, the trails are too crowded, you need a permit or must pay a fee, it’s raining, etc.

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Nannie Creek Loop (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 08-Oct-2016

Nannie Creek Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

Last July, I did an out-and-back hike in the Sky Lakes Wilderness from the Nannie Creek trailhead (USFS TH) to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  At the time, it occurred to me that I could use the PCT to loop around Luther Mountain and down past a few of the lakes in the Sky Lakes Basin that we hadn’t visited before.  This wilderness, despite its more than 200 pools of water, good camping, and easy hiking, has a deservedly fearsome reputation for hoardes of ravenous mosquitos in July and August.  But on a crisp, sunny, clear day in early October, with all of these perditious pests gone to whatever reward awaits them, there is simply no better place to hike in Southern Oregon.  Unfortunately, its also the ideal time for Fall planting and gardening, so my attempts to lure the LovedOne from her botanical tasks failed and I was (once again) left to face the wilderness alone (double sigh).

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Nannie Creek (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 03-Jul-2016

Nannie Creek Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

The Sky Lakes Wilderness stretches for 113, 835 acres along the crest of the volcanic Cascade Mountains from the border of Crater Lake National Park on the north to State Highway 140 in the south.  As its name implies, it encompasses a large number of named and unamed lakes arrayed in three major lake (former glacial) basins, from Seven Lakes Basin in the north, to Sky Lakes Basin (including the Dwarf Lakes) in the center, to Blue Canyon Basin in the south.  Fourmile Lake and Mount McLoughlin lie south of Blue Canyon Basin, on the southern border of the wilderness.  More than 200 pools of water, from mere ponds to lakes of 30 to 40 acres, dot the landscape. Fourmile Lake exceeds 900 acres. Despite its fearsome reputation for hordes of ravenous mosquitos in July and August, we have done more than a few summer hikes here – including scrambles to the summits of Mt. McLoughlin and Devils Peak – since first moving to Southern Oregon.  Our hike last year in via the Nannie Creek trailhead was cut short when the LovedOne’s knee started acting up (post), so we had some unfinished business with exploring the Sky Lakes Basin from that particular entry point.  But, unable to convince her that a hike through mosquitos in hotter than usual temperatures would somehow be FUN, I was left to face the wilderness alone (sigh).

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Cherry Creek (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 13-Sep-2015

Cherry Creek Trail Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

Thanks to the drought 😦 , the mosquitos that usually make the Sky Lakes Wilderness a forbidding place in July and August didn’t materialize this year in their usual great numbers. 🙂 We’ve been taking advantage of their absence to explore most of the trailheads that allow one to access different parts of this long, linear wilderness – which stretches along the Cascade Crest from Crater Lake National Park to Mount. McLoughlin. Today we we checked out the Cherry Creek Trail (USFS #3708), which is the one just south of the Nannie Creek Trail. This one is lower (about 4,800 feet) and the hike in to the lakes is longer (about 6 miles) than via Nannie Creek, so it was not surprising to find it much less used. Because of erosion damage, it’s currently closed to stock, which only adds to its less used aspect. It is also entirely in the forest, with no real views until you reach the lakes. This is Hike #139 in Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon (3rd Edition). Continue reading “Cherry Creek (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 13-Sep-2015”

Nannie Creek (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 13-Aug-2015

Nannie Creek Trail Puck Lakes Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

Thanks to the drought 😦 , the mosquitos that usually make the Sky Lakes Wilderness a forbidding place in July and August didn’t materialize 🙂 this year in their usual great numbers. We’ve been taking advantage of their absence to explore most of the trailheads that allow one to access different parts of this long, linear wilderness – which stretches along the Cascade Crest from Crater Lake National Park to Mount. McLoughlin. Today we explored the Nannie Creek Trail (USFS #3707), which provides access to the lakes on the east side of Luther Mountain . This trail is popular because it starts higher (about 6,000 feet), is well maintained, and has views. But it comes in above the lakes, so there’s a 400 foot climb on your return. This is Hike #50 in Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon (3rd Edition). Continue reading “Nannie Creek (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 13-Aug-2015”