one of the three original Primitive Areas of Oregon/Washington
that this classic tent is your home for an entire summer. For
a story about three adolescents' wilderness sojourn at a mountain
lake in Southern Oregon, click here.
your morning coffee brewing as the Sun paints reflections in the
Lakes Wilderness Commentary
Situated on the
drier eastern fringe of the Southern Oregon Cascades, this small
"pocket" wilderness was one of the Forest Service's original three
"Primitive Areas" in Oregon and Washington, the brainchild and a
pet project of Fred Cleator of the USFS, a man often named as
the Father of the PCT... Mountain Lakes Primitive Area was established
in 1930. It became a "Wild Area" in 1940, and the passage
of the Wilderness Act in 1964 brought it on board as one of Oregon's
first modern designated Wilderness Areas. It covers exactly one
township, and is
the only square-shaped wilderness within the United States' National
Wilderness Preservation system. At 23,071 acres, it is one of Oregon's smallest
but true: Like Crater
East Lake and Paulina
the north, the mountain lakes basin is another snuffed-out volcano!
Geologically, it is a collapse caldera, left over after the collapse
of a mountain taller than Mt. Hood! In the case of Crater Lake, the collapse
formed one huge lake; when Mt Newberry collapsed, it left East
and Paulina lakes; and when the Mountain Lake's predecessor collapsed,
it left a basin that filled with literally hundreds of ponds,
pools, lakelets and a few larger Lakes.
This tiny area
is just stuffed with wildflowers, great creeks, ponds and lakes.
With all this water, aquatic wildlife like Bullfrogs are a delight!
The image pictures a bullfrog that is has just recently lost its
Wilderness is also blessed with a wonderfully variegated forest
cover. One of my favorite trees can be found on drier, sunnier
mid-elevation sites. This is the Oregon Sugar Pine, with its enormous, trophy-size
cones and ponderosa-like bark.
My favorite trail
is the Varney Creek Trail, which sneaks into the wilderness from
the south side, far away from the hustle and bustle of Lake of
the Woods and the cars and truck traffic of Highway 140.
Last Revised 6/22/2017