FKT: Jason Wheat - Little Wildhorse Lakes Loop (OR) - 2020-07-24

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
3h 18m 2s
GPS track(s)

I completed this route solo unsupported beginning at Wildhorse Lake TH at the parking area below Steens Peak. I went Clockwise, descending to the lake first on the trail. Past the lake, is a choose-your-own path following the creek down the wide canyon. I wore pants for this section. There are some green prickly bushes that can bloody you up. The vegetation is pretty dense at foot but generally only knee high. I found a cowpath near the bottom that eased my way through the denser trees at the lower end. Turning back to the west you'll pass a nice waterfall, that could be a good waterfill if you underestimated your needs. I carried 1.5L and it was more than enough for 3 hours. The ascent up the next canyon can be followed on the rockier creek bed or in the low bushes that are only 1-2 ft tall. Midway through the northward ascent you'll climb steeply up to Little Wildhorse Lake. You'll need shoes with good traction/deep lugs for the climbs. The gravely rock is loose and soft on the climb up. The small lake is shallow with a mushy bottom and is a great little swim or cool off. Another short ascent up to the saddle where you'll catch the ridge traverse leading back to the parking area. Pay attention to topo and landmarks or your gps route in watch. I went about 5 min along the wrong ridge before catching my error. On the ridge traverse, stay high and you will find a well worn path through the rocks leading to a runable trail to finish up the last mile. 

Steens is a wonderful area with expansive canyon views to the west and the flat desert to the east. It is great for star watching and I had some perfect views of Comet Neowise, Saturn/Jupiter conjunction, Perseids meteor shower. This area has excellent dark sky and clarity at 9300 ft.