Babyfoot Lake before the 2002 Fire
- Easy (to Babyfoot Lake)
- 2.4 miles round-trip
- 360 feet elevation loss
- Open May to mid-December
- Use: hikers, horses
- Moderate (also to viewpoint)
- 4.2-miles round-trip
- 760 feet elevation gain
A sprawling land of rugged canyons, rare plants, and ancient gold mines, the remote Kalmiopsis Wilderness was overswept in 2002 by one of the largest wildfires in Oregon’s history. In most places the fire merely burned away the brush, poison oak, and small trees, leaving the forest healthier and tidier than before. Some valleys were skipped by the flames altogether.
Here on the Wilderness’ eastern rim the fire roared up the ridgecrests, killing virtually every tree. The short trail to Babyfoot Lake starts at a sad clearcut, where poorly supervised “salvage” loggers mistakenly cut 17 acres of this protected botanical area in 2005. Then the path traverses a much healthier, naturally recovering forest of silver snags and young seedlings. The lake itself is a green oasis, where a pocket of cool, damp air saved a narrow circle of ancient cedars. For a broader view, climb to a clifftop above the lake, where you can see the patchwork of trees left by the fire.
To start, drive Highway …
If you’d like a longer hike to a higher viewpoint, walk …
Adventurers with routefinding skills …
This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon.