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Pets allowed
Yes
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Loop
Distance
20.20 mi (32.51 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

With so many incredible trails and destinations to visit in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, one of the best ways to experience it is with a multi-day loop that tours the wilderness area's highlights. Starting from below Strawberry Lake, a loop trail will take you by Strawberry Falls, High Lake, and Slide Lake. Short spur trails also lead to Little Strawberry Lake and to Strawberry Mountain's summit at 9,033 feet, two destinations not to be missed if you want to get a full appreciation of this remarkable area.

One of the most remarkable features of the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness is its isolation. Although the major access is only 11 miles outside of Prairie City, the nearest true population center is well over 100 miles away. The area comprises over 69,000 acres and has over 100 miles of hiking trails. Mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, deer, black bears and mountain lions are just a sampling of large mammals that make a home in the area.

The trail wanders through pine, fir, and larch, and it gets more exposed at higher elevations. Parts of the southern portion of the loop pass through areas where forest fires have left skeleton-like trees, which means there is plenty of sun exposure. Luckily, these areas only make up a short part of the trail. The shores of Little Strawberry Lake, Little Slide Lake, and High Lake sit at the base of high cliffs and scree fields, where you'll have a good chance of seeing mountain goats combing the rock slopes above.

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.

The loop can be started from below Strawberry Lake or from the other side near High Lake. Starting from Strawberry Lake is highly recommended. The access road to the trailhead is much easier to travel, and you'll get the majority of the elevation gain out of the way on the first day as opposed to leaving a major hill to climb for the last day. Parking is free at both trailheads. Come prepared for variable weather, even if you are visiting in the summer. Campsites at High Lake are over 7,000 feet in elevation, and it will get very cool at night, even on hot summer days.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Solitude. Great views. Wildlife encounters.

Cons

May encounter a few hunters during hunting season.

Trailhead Elevation

5,748.00 ft (1,751.99 m)

Net Elevation Gain

3,285.00 ft (1,001.27 m)

Address

NF-6001
Prairie City, OR 97869
United States

Features

Backcountry camping
Waterfalls
Big Game Watching
Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Fishing
Big Game Watching

Suitable for

Horseback

Location

Field Guide + Map

Comments

07/27/2018
Did this loop over 3 days. Started at Strawberry Basin TH and hiked toward Strawberry Lake. You also have the option of doing the loop going east towards Slide Lake; trail signage is better in this direction, for some reason. Took a quick look at Big and Little Strawberry Lakes (worth a visit) and headed for camp at a beautiful spring near the turnoff for Strawberry Mtn summit hike. Spent the night surrounded by wildflowers and a full moon.
Next day dropped pack and hiked up to the summit. Poles were handy for balance over softball-sized rocks. Great views at the top! Then headed down the trail towards High Lake. Views were amazing and wildflowers were impressive for most of the trail. After coming to a dirt road and Roads End TH, walk up the road to High Lake TH and prepare for a long, steep downhill hike to a forest lake that burned around 2002. There are 3 nice campsites and 3 subpar ones; all were full the Saturday night I was there. Water was warm and fish were jumping. Mosquitoes weren't bad. Saw 5 mountain goats early morning on the cliffs above the lake, a young buck sleeping in the forest, many woodpeckers and listened to coyotes at night.
Next day was a long climb out and over a ridge towards Slide Lake. I lost the trail in a rock slide amid downed trees and ended up following someone else's make-shift attempt down a forested slope until I thankfully ran into the correct trail. Watch carefully for the unsigned trail to Slide on the right. Slide Lake was empty Sunday afternoon; I noticed a few nice campsites around the lake and spring. A fellow hiker recommended checking out Little Slide Lake but I opted not to.
On the way back to Strawberry TH you are presented with an unsigned (from this direction) fork into 2 trails. I took the higher one, which turned out to be the hiker trail. The other goes low and is a horse trail. I wish I had chosen the lower trail because the hiker trail was sketchy; loose scree that is very narrow in places with a steep slope down one side and eroded hillside stream beds that made for harrowing crossing for someone with a shorter step length. I was glad when that section was over! The remainder of the hike had some views of Eastern Oregon and the forested canyon nearby before the trail drops into a forest to the TH. Beautiful country.
07/07/2018
Fabulous trip. My daughter and I did the loop, expecting the best scenery to be around Strawberry Lake and the falls. Not so. Hoofing it up the grinding ridge climbs invariably leads to spectacular panoramic views. Beautiful valleys headed by placid lakes plunked into scenic bowls. Not a ton of wildlife, at least that we saw, though we did spy mountain goats scampering the rock walls, and even a pair browsing the apex of Strawberry Mountain. While not hidden from the masses, the crowds thin at the extremes of the loop. Well worth a trip for a couple of relaxing nights in the backcountry.
08/17/2017
Do not hike past Wild cat basin east. No trail. No reliable water sources. The Strawberry loop is very surreal. 10/10 hike. Don't follow google maps though as previously mentioned. 8/18/17 No mosquitoes which was nice!
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