If you only have part of day to visit the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, this hike to Little Strawberry Lake is a veritable highlight reel for this amazing area. Starting at Strawberry Campground, the short there-and-back hike quickly arrives at Strawberry Lake. The trail wanders through pine, fir, and larch before opening up to a dramatic view of the lake and surrounding mountains.
From Strawberry Lake, it's only another mile of hiking to Strawberry Falls, where Strawberry Creek drops over nearly 100 feet of moss-covered basalt boulders. Continue heading up the trail, and the cutoff to Little Strawberry Lake is around a few bends.
Little Strawberry Lake sits at the base of a rock-strewn cliff. The tree-lined sides of the lake give way to boulders and colorful bands of basalt. Brook trout are plentiful here, and if you're lucky, you'll have the high alpine lake to yourself for some fishing or just to take in the incredible views. Mountain goats are regular visitors of these steep escarpments, along with elk, deer and other wildlife.
Visiting Strawberry Mountain Wilderness is best in late September to early October. You'll want to avoid the last traces of snowfall that can last into August and the mosquitoes that are inevitable at higher elevations, especially one with seven alpine lakes. You can fish in each of the lakes, camp at backcountry sites found readily along the way, and if you're lucky, get a few places to camp all to yourself. If you want to turn your visit into a longer trip, a day hike to Strawberry Mountain's summit or to Slide Lake is achievable, or you can also make it a multi-day loop of the larger Strawberry Mountain Wilderness.