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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
- Distance: 11.1
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From the trailhead in Strawberry Lake Campground, the path climbs south into the lake basin.
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Bear right toward Strawberry Lakes.
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At the northern tip of Strawberry Lake, turn right on the loop trail.
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Pass a large campsite with spectacular lake views.
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Cross the first of several creek crossings on log bridges.
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Creekside campsite near large meadow
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This wooded campsite is located between small creeks.
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Turn right at this 3-way junction onto the trail to Upper Strawberry Lake (called Little Strawberry Lake on USGS maps).
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Turn right at the T-junction.
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Strawberry Falls: This 60-foot, trailside waterfall is perfect for cooling off on hot summer days.
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Cross bridge above Strawberry Falls.
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Pass a small campsite above the falls with lake views.
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Fork left to Upper Strawberry Lake. The trail on the right climbs to Strawberry Mountain.
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Upper Strawberry Lake: You’ll find several secluded campsites around the lakeshore. Next: Backtrack to SBL009 and turn right.
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Bear left at fork.
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Nice lakeside campsite
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Pass a large lakeside campsite. Ahead, the trail reconnects with SBL004; turn right to return to the trailhead.
Location: 44.309355, -118.68187
View up valley over Strawberry Lake.
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Entering the Strawberry Wilderness to Strawberry and Slide Lakes.
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Early morning reflection on Strawberry Lake’s still water.
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Large lakeside meadow with stunning views; campsite nearby.
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Watch for the trail that branches south to Upper Strawberry Lake.
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Score this small campsite above the bridge with lake and valley views!
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Left at this sign for the final stretch to Upper Strawberry Lake.
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Trail ends at Upper Strawberry Lake and large meadow under big talus.
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Look for the Rabbit Ears formation in the wall towering above Upper Strawberry Lake.
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View down valley over Strawberry Lake.