High Lakes Trail
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The High Lakes Trail offers many opportunities, from a short hike along the Great Meadow to a 19 mile ‘out and back’ mountain bike ride across the Cascade Crest between Fish Lake and Lake of the Woods. The compacted gravel surface is attractive for the hikers and cyclists through out its length, while the Lake of the Woods/ Great Meadow section is level and accessible for person with disabilities.
On the trail you will experience the harsh, yet beautiful lava flows of Brown Mountain and view the symmetrical shape of Mount McLoughlin, the highest peak in the southern Oregon Cascades at 9495 feet above sea level. Bald eagle, Osprey, and a variety of other birds are common at both lakes. Botanical enthusiasts will especially like the wildflower display at the Great Meadow area in late spring and summer. Portions of the trail are located within a mixed conifer old growth forest.
Campers have a choice of four high quality campgrounds; Fish Lake and Doe Point at Fish Lake, and Aspen Point and Sunset at Lake of the Woods. Both lakes offer friendly resort services with cafes, cabins campgrounds and boat rentals, fishing tackle and other services. The trail offers interpretive signing at the four trailheads and at selected locations along the Great Meadow and Brown Mountain lava flows.
In the early 1900′s the eleven mile Cascade Canal was built to carry water from Fourmile Lake to Fish Lake and subsequently to Medford. At a point a half mile west of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCNST), the water from the canal disappears in to a lava tube and enters Fish Lake one mile away. Appearing as a small pond when the canal is flowing, the deposit of sediment has created a meadow at the edge of the lava when the canal is dry.
* Between Great Meadow and Brown Mountain trailheads the trail is generally flat with a few slight grades. The remainder of the trail has some moderate grades interspersed along the undulating route.
* If you choose to do the route one way with a car shuttle, it is easier to begin at one of the east trailheads as Lake of the Woods is more than 300 feet higher than Fish Lake. Conversely, if you choose the ‘out and back method’, you may want to begin at Fish Lake. This would allow you to finish the 19 mile trip with a descent of over 3 miles.
* Carry water. The lava flow areas can become very warm during the summer months. The Cascade Canal, if running may provide you with a cool spot, but the water is unsafe to drink. No other water sources exist between Fish Lake and Lake of the Woods.
Note for Horsemen and Cyclists : Pack and saddle stock are permitted on the trail between the PCNST and Fish Lake trail junctions. Stock users should take the Fish Lake trail to the tethering area provided on the east end of lake.
Cyclists are expected to reduce speed and ride courteously when encountering other trail users. Cyclists and hikers can also begin or end their trip at the western terminus of the Fish Lake trail across from North Fork campground on forest road 37 (3 additional trail miles). Cyclists are forbidden on the PCNST (2 miles east of Fish Lake).
Directions: From Ashland: Travel east on Highway 66 a half mile past the Ashland Ranger Station and turn left onto the Dead Indian Memorial Highway. Follow this highway for 22 miles to the junction with forest road 37. Turn left and proceed 8 miles to highway 140. Turn right and travel 2 miles to the Fish Lake turnoff. Turn right and proceed to the trailhead at the Fish Lake Boat Ramp Parking Lot. For Lake of the Woods trailheads proceed 6 miles east on Highway 140.
Seasonal Access: Normally Accessible: May-October
Facility Type: Trail
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