Route: Mountain Lakes Loop Trail (OR)

Submitted by Aria Zoner on Tue, 09/01/2020 - 07:48pm
Oregon, US
8 mi
Vertical Gain
1,763 ft

The Mountain Lakes Loop Trail is approximately 8 miles long and travels entirely within Mountain Lakes Wilderness. This trail directly visits 5 alpine lakes, each offering drinking water, a swim to cool down, and trailside campsites for alternative starting points. According to the Fremont-Winema National Forest, the Mountain Lakes Loop Trail starts and ends at the Varney Creek Trail junction. This access trail descends 4.3 miles to the Varney Creek Trailhead, where camping is allowed. Unfortunately, there are no facilities. The same goes for this loop's 2 other access trails - Clover Creek Trail and Mountain Lakes Trail. All junctions are signed. No permits are required (at this time).

The Mountain Lakes Wilderness area is located in southern Oregon and is part of the Cascade Range. According to Wikipedia, "it is unique among United States wilderness areas, in that it is the only one whose borders form a square, occupying the 36-square-mile (93 km2) area of a single survey township."

The Mountain Lakes Loop Trail travels along the rim of a glaciated caldera that holds more than 20 lakes. 8 distinct peaks are passed near. Views extend to Upper Klamath Lake and Mt McLoughlin.


Very late notice, but I’m going to attempt an unsupported FKT on this one later today with a goal of 2 hrs. Scouted it out last week; pretty rocky and steep but beautiful!