Getting to the Point (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 11-Jul-2020

Southern Oregon’s Mountain Lakes Wilderness (the U.S.’s only wilderness with a perfectly square boundary) was once believed to be the caldera of one huge collapsed volcano (like Crater Lake to the north). But more recent research suggests it was created from calderas of four overlapping shield volcanoes. Eight prominent peaks – and several lesser ones – remain on the rim of these calderas. Aspen Butte (8,208 ft / 2,501 m) is the highest point in the wilderness but there are several other rocky summits that offer spectacular views of the surrounding area and as far south as Mount Shasta. Today we decided to take advantage of some excellent weather to take in the views from Point 7703 located between Whiteface Peak and Greylock Mountain.

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Whiteface Peak (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 21-Jul-2018

Whiteface Peak Mountain Lakes Wilderness Oregon

FIRE! SMOKE! FIRE! SMOKE! And so wildfire season begins in earnest… A week ago, huge thunderstorms rolled through our area, igniting a crescent of wildfires to our west and north. Many of these fires are still burning and smoke from them is filling the Rogue Valley with a choking miasma sadly reminiscent of old campfire. Last year, during the worst of the smoke from the Chetco Bar Fire, I sought (and found) clean (or at least cleaner) air atop various peaks in our area (The LovedOne opted for the A/C at the library). One of these peaks was Aspen Butte in the nearby Mountain Lakes Wilderness, which is now one of the few forested areas around here not hosting its own wildfire. Whiteface Peak, at the end of the Mountain Lakes Trail (USFS #3721), seemed like it might be high enough (at 7,684 feet) to afford a breathe of fresh air, so I got an early, but smoky, start for it (The LovedOne again sought refuge in the library’s cellulose-laden air).

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Lake Waban (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 15-Aug-2015

Mountain Lakes Wilderness Oregon

The Mountain Lakes Trail (USFS #3721) to the Mountain Lakes Loop Trail in the Mountain Lakes Wilderness (How many times can you say “mountain lakes?”) was the last of the three major trails into this wilderness that we had yet to explore. It was on the to do list but not a priority until heavy smoke from various wildfires in Oregon and California started blanketing our area. Being somewhat south and east of these fires, the Mountain Lakes Wilderness was being spared most of this smoke yesterday. So the opportunity to explore a “new” trail and not breathe smoke for awhile is what finally got us going on this one.

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