Blue Lake Basin

Blue Lake

  • Easy (to Blue Lake)
  • 4.6 miles round-trip
  • 640 feet elevation loss
  • Open early July through October Use: hikers, horses

  • Moderate (to Horseshoe Lake)
  • 6.2 miles round-trip
  • 700 feet elevation gain

  • Difficult (to Island Lake)
  • 11 miles round-trip
  • 1300 feet elevation gain

The high lakes in this corner of the Sky Lakes Wilderness have been popular destinations since at least 1888. That’s the year Judge John Waldo of Salem led a party of five horsemen from Willamette Pass to Mt. Shasta, becoming the first to trace the route of the present-day Pacific Crest Trail through Southern Oregon. While camped at Island Lake, Waldo’s group carved their names in a large Shasta red fir. Today hikers who trek 5.5 miles along the Blue Canyon Trail can still read the inscription. But it’s tempting to turn back at one of the smaller, prettier lakes along the way.

The area’s popularity has brought a few rules. Maximum group size is eight people and 12 animals. Backpackers must tent at least 100 feet from lakeshores. Equestrians are required to use designated horse camps. Horses are not allowed within 200 feet of lakeshores or 50 feet of streams (except on trails or at designated watering spots) and grazing is usually banned. Also remember that mosquitoes are a problem from mid-July to mid-August.

To find the Blue Canyon Trail, drive …

Hikers with children may want to turn back here. To continue, however, turn right at …

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon.