Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, OR: Strawberry Lakes

Get big mountain scenery without the big mountain effort on this 6.9-mile out-and-back that visits two gorgeous alpine lakes, secluded campsites, and a 60-foot trailside waterfall.
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Get big mountain scenery without the big mountain effort on this 6.9-mile out-and-back that visits two gorgeous alpine lakes, secluded campsites, and a 60-foot trailside waterfall.

Twenty miles southeast of John Day, the Strawberry Wilderness—with sparkling alpine lakes and towering glaciated peaks—has more in common with the Canadian Rockies than Oregon’s high desert. The trail starts at the Strawberry Campground, at the end of FR 6001. Pick up the trailhead near the day-use parking area, register at the signboard, then start up through fir forest, keeping right at several junctions, to the landslide-choked outlet of Strawberry Lake.

Fork right (west) at the lake loop junction, and cross the dried up outlet to a small beach where the still water of early morning offers mirror-like reflections of the surrounding peaks. Continue around the west side of the lake, crossing several inlet streams and passing a couple of nice camp spots, one near a wide lakeside grassy meadow. At the head of the lake, after a couple more stream crossings, look for a signed trail branching off to the right, and start a steady climb to Strawberry Falls. The 60-foot falls comes into view around mile 3, and the cool spray is perfect relief on hot summer days. A long switchback leads to the bridge over the top of the falls and to the next junction; fork left (east) to Upper Strawberry Lake.

The trail follows Strawberry Creek a short ways, crosses, then runs east less than half a mile to Upper Strawberry Lake, a gorgeous alpine lake in an amphitheater of 1,500-foot glaciated volcanic rock, with a small meadow on one end and a large scree slope on the other. Lake access is limited, but several secluded campsites can be found in the area. Find a nice spot for lunch and enjoy the view, or pick your tent site for an overnight. On the return trip, retrace your route to the head of Strawberry Lake and turn right (east) to explore the other shoreline (you’ll find several more campsites and nice lake access) before returning to the trailhead.

-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 11.1

Waypoints

SBL001

Location: 44.319281, -118.674102

From the trailhead in Strawberry Lake Campground, the path climbs south into the lake basin.

SBL002

Location: 44.311038, -118.677243

Bear right toward Strawberry Lakes.

SBL003

Location: 44.309854, -118.680775

Bear right.

SBL004

Location: 44.309589, -118.681934

At the northern tip of Strawberry Lake, turn right on the loop trail.

SBL005

Location: 44.309854, -118.682319

Pass a large campsite with spectacular lake views.

SBL006

Location: 44.306587, -118.687583

Cross the first of several creek crossings on log bridges.

SBL007

Location: 44.306472, -118.687442

Creekside campsite near large meadow

SBL008

Location: 44.304463, -118.688381

This wooded campsite is located between small creeks.

SBL009

Location: 44.304363, -118.68641

Turn right at this 3-way junction onto the trail to Upper Strawberry Lake (called Little Strawberry Lake on USGS maps).

SBL010

Location: 44.304055, -118.68627

Turn right at the T-junction.

SBL011

Location: 44.29649, -118.69307

Strawberry Falls: This 60-foot, trailside waterfall is perfect for cooling off on hot summer days.

SBL012

Location: 44.295976, -118.692985

Cross bridge above Strawberry Falls.

SBL013

Location: 44.295829, -118.692969

Pass a small campsite above the falls with lake views.

SBL014

Location: 44.295918, -118.693317

Fork left to Upper Strawberry Lake. The trail on the right climbs to Strawberry Mountain.

SBL015

Location: 44.293924, -118.685912

Upper Strawberry Lake: You'll find several secluded campsites around the lakeshore. Next: Backtrack to SBL009 and turn right.

SBL016

Location: 44.306227, -118.683521

Bear left at fork.

SBL017

Location: 44.307099, -118.683538

Nice lakeside campsite

SBL018

Location: 44.308203, -118.68202

Pass a large lakeside campsite. Ahead, the trail reconnects with SBL004; turn right to return to the trailhead.

Strawberry Lake

Location: 44.309355, -118.68187

View up valley over Strawberry Lake.

Strawberry Wilderness

Location: 44.320041, -118.672686

Entering the Strawberry Wilderness to Strawberry and Slide Lakes.

Reflection

Location: 44.309985, -118.682921

Early morning reflection on Strawberry Lake's still water.

Lakeside Meadow

Location: 44.306107, -118.687717

Large lakeside meadow with stunning views; campsite nearby.

Upper Trail

Location: 44.304368, -118.686373

Watch for the trail that branches south to Upper Strawberry Lake.

Strawberry Falls

Location: 44.296494, -118.693011

Secret Camp

Location: 44.295838, -118.692904

Score this small campsite above the bridge with lake and valley views!

Trail Fork

Location: 44.29593, -118.693247

Left at this sign for the final stretch to Upper Strawberry Lake.

Big Meadow

Location: 44.293914, -118.685834

Trail ends at Upper Strawberry Lake and large meadow under big talus.

Upper Strawberry

Location: 44.29392, -118.685869

Look for the Rabbit Ears formation in the wall towering above Upper Strawberry Lake.

Strawberry Lake

Location: 44.305178, -118.684745

View down valley over Strawberry Lake.