A Goose Too Far (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 06-Aug-2020

Stretching south from Crater Lake, into the Sky Lakes Wilderness, are a line of small peaks. They were generated by the same volcanic forces that eventually exploded ancient Mount Mazama to create Crater Lake. A couple of years ago, I got to the summit of one of them – Mount Maude – from the south via the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The tallest one – Goose Nest (not to be confused with the Goosenest near Mount Shasta) – sits just east of the Cascade Crest near the wilderness / park boundary. The shortest approach to Goose Nest is from the east on old logging roads. But I had always wanted to see if it could be reached from the west via the PCT, as had Maude. Map gazing and trip planning ensued…

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Stuart Falls (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 11-Jul-2017

Stuart Falls Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

UPDATE: In August of 2017, this whole area sustained substantial damage from the Blanket Creek Fire, part of the High Cascades Complex Fire.  Current trail and forest conditions are unlikely to match those seen here.

Stuart Falls is a gorgeous 40-foot or so cascade of silver water nestled in a spectacular forest in the Sky Lakes Wilderness, near the extreme southwest corner of Crater Lake National Park. It has some wonderful campsites at its base and used to be readily accessible via the Red Blanket Trail (USFS #1090) from a trailhead on Forest Road (FR) 6205 to the west. But then this area was touched by the 2008 Lonesome Complex Middle Fork fire, which removed a lot of the understory and ground cover. This was followed by two years of minimal snow cover, punctuated by short, but intense, bursts of rain. No longer slowed by an understory, this water tore down gullies and completely obliterated the #1090 in several places (and also closed FR 6205 2.5 miles from the trailhead). Using my 4×4 to reach the trailhead, I did this hike in 2015 and found the journey to the falls to be difficult at best and possibly even dangerous. A return visit seemed unlikely until I realized there was a safe (but slightly longer) way in from the east via the Pumice Flat Trail. So, leaving the LovedOne immersed in some sort of intricate fabric project, I headed out to return to the falls.

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