Blue Canyon Basin (Sky Lakes Wild.)

Rating (Out of 5): 4.0

Location: Near Butte Falls, Ore.

Distance: Various distances; 5 miles round-trip to Blue Lake

Difficulty: easy/moderate

Camping: Yes, 100 feet from lakeshores

Quick hit: This collection of lakes in the Sky Lakes Wilderness is among the most beautiful, and most popular, in Southern Oregon. The Blue Canyon Trail takes hikers through a collection of scenic lakes. The crown jewel is Blue Lake, which is surrounded by meadows and backed by the large cliff.

After Blue Lake the trail swings right, and stops at two more lakes -- Horseshoe and Pear Lakes, both of which are quite nice and have camping spots. After 5.3 miles, you'll reach Island Lake, the largest of the group.

Perhaps the best loop hike begins at the Blue Canyon Trailhead and runs past Blue Lake. In between Blue Lake and Horseshoe Lake is a sign marked "Cat Hill Way." This heads uphill and eventually goes right, and heads back to the Blue Canyon Trailhead. The view of Mount McLoughlin on Cat Hill Way are outstanding.

During the height of summer the area’s mosquitos are so large and aggressive they’ve been known to lift backpackers up in the air and drop them in the closest lakes. (That is not actually true, but can seem plausible.) Because of these bugs and the high volume of people, the best time to visit is autumn.

Directions: From Butte Falls, turn left onto Butte Falls-Prospect road and follow it for nine miles. Then turn right onto Lodgepole Road 34 for 8.5 miles. Turn right at Road 37 for 7.4 miles as it becomes gravel. Turn right on Road 3770 for 5.3 miles to large parking area.

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