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.  That 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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Lake Ivern Loop (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 01-Sep-2019

Lake Ivern sits by itself at the north end of the Seven Lakes Basin in Oregon’s Sky Lakes Wilderness. While South, Cliff, and Middle Lakes get a lot of visits (particularly from hikers on the nearby Pacific Crest Trail), Ivern’s location two miles down a one-way trail leaves it kind of isolated. I wanted to visit it but was put off by the long out-and-back which that would entail.

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Devils Peak (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 17-Oct-2017

Devils Peak Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

Humans plan; the gods laugh.  I had several new hikes planned in Southern Oregon’s Sky Lakes Wilderness to enjoy it during the usually glorious (and bug-free) Fall weather.  But lightning strikes (thank you, Zeus!) ignited the Spruce Lake, Blanket Creek, and North Pelican fires, and these closed this wilderness (and parts of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)) until a week ago.  Then we got our first snow (thank Chione for that!), with more coming soon.  So, with my Sky Lakes hiking needs unmet, and the weather window about to snap shut, I consulted the auguries and soon visualized Devils Peak.  Devils isn’t the highest peak in this wilderness (that would be Mount McLoughlin), but it is the presiding monarch of the Seven Lakes Basin and a summit which, based on previous trips, I knew had one heck (metaphorically speaking) of a great view.

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King Spruce Loop (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 19-Aug-2015

King Spruce Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

This is a short hike to a neat lake and a big tree – but not one with much in the way of views. Hence it had fallen down on the to do list. But smoke coming from large wildfires to the north (near Canyonville, Oregon) and the south (in California) was severely limiting visibility. So a lake and a tree seemed like a fair trade for views. The Seven Lakes Trail (USFS #981) is probably the most popular and most used western approach into the Seven Lakes Basin of the Sky Lakes Wilderness. It’s a little rocky but has recently received maintenance that removed this year’s crop of fallen trees, making it an easy cruise.

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Devils Peak Loop (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 10-Jun-2015

Devils Peak Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

Three weeks ago, I attempted to hike to Devils Peak in the northern Sky Lakes Wilderness. This is the wilderness immediately south of Crater Lake National Park and not to be confused with the Mountain Lakes Wilderness further south. At that time, conditions were less than optimal as the trail going out to Devils Peak was still covered in snow. I had to settle for a snowy scramble up nearby Lucifer. Family visiting from the East gave me the chance to reprise this hike under ideal conditions – cool, clear, sunny weather, with no bugs to speak of once we were away from the trailhead. Surprisingly, all the snow clogging the trails had melted completely away in just three weeks!

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