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
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 Wilderness areas.
but true: Like Crater
Lake and East Lake
Lake to the north,
the mountain lakes basin is another snuffed-out volcano! Actually,
it was four overlapping shield volcanos, which got very glaciated
during the Ice Age(s).... In the case of Crater Lake, a violent
collapse formed one huge lake; when Mt Newberry collapsed, it
left East and Paulina lakes; and when the Mountain Lake's four
volcanos got glaciated, the result was 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 01/19/2021