Island Lake (Siskiyou Wilderness)

Rating (Out of 5): 4.0

Location: Between Grants Pass, Ore. and Crescent City, Calif.

Distance: 13 miles round-trip

Difficulty: difficult/very difficult

Camping: Yes around Island Lake

Quick hit: Island Lake is a pretty little slice of blue in the Siskiyou Wilderness, surrounded by mountains, but requires a very tough hike to reach. The first three miles of the trail are an old road and go mostly downhill, until you reach the South Fork of the Smith River. There's signs that point to the trail on the opposite side of the river, which you can wade across or cross using some trees that have fallen across the river. On the other side is a true trail, which shoots uphill for 3.5 miles and gains a whopping 3,000 feet. The trail hits the top of a ridgeline, which has some very nice views, then crosses through a creepy burned forest before dropping down to the lake. There are campsites all around the lake, including one on the island.

Directions: From Grants Pass, Ore. drive Redwood Highway 199 south past the Siskiyou Summit tunnel for 53 miles. Once you pass the tunnel, turn left on Little Jones Creek Road. Stay on paved road 10 miles. Turn left at gravel Road 16N02 and follow it toward Doe Flat Trailhead. Before you reach Doe Flat, there will be a sign on the right side of the road that says "Island Lake." Turn right to the trailhead, which has a small parking lot. The trail isn't exactly marked, but begins at a gate across the old road.

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