The Fremont-Winema National Forest is a 2.3-million-acre forest that borders Crater Lake National Park and spills into the Klamath Basin. The diverse terrain has marshes, meadows, volcanic areas, and areas of the Oregon Outback. There are four designated Wilderness areas to explore: Gearhart Mountain Wilderness, Mountain Lakes Wilderness, Mount Thielsen Wilderness, and Sky Lakes Wilderness. The forest offers opportunities for fishing, hiking, boating, hunting, and horseback riding. In the winter, you can enjoy skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing. There is also a 50-mile recreation trail running through the forest between Government Harvey Pass and Cox Pass.
Lake of the Woods Trail is near Klamath Falls and best used from April until October. The trail takes you through dense woods with lots of wildflowers and a lake for swimming. Three miles in, there is a steep incline where you will see a volcanic lava rock area. During the winter, this is a good trail for snowshoeing, and parts of the lake are frozen.
Length: 6.5 miles
Mount McLoughlin Trail is a steep trail near Butte Falls. Experienced hikers will find the pinnacles on the East ridge worth the climb. The terrain is rocky with lots of rock walls and rock cairns. The best time to hike this trail is during the summer months.
Length: 9.5 miles
Yamsay Mountain Trail offers panoramic views of Three Sisters, Fort Rock Basin, and even Mount Shasta. This hike is most enjoyable when the day is clear so that you can have the best view of the snow-covered peaks of the Cascade Range.
Length: 3.5 miles
Gearhart Mountain Trail offers access to the Palisades full of rock outcrops, balancing rocks, and rock mazes. You can still see silhouettes of ancient rock carvings. Continue hiking to catch sight of the Dome, a monolith that is 300 feet high. You can choose to continue to the North Fork of the Sprague River Trailhead or turn around and head back to the start.
Intensity: Moderate to Difficult
The Cherry Creek Trail accesses the east side of Sky Lakes Wilderness with several high mountain lakes. The trail crosses the creek more than once and intersects with Sky Lakes Trail & Trapper Lake. Huckleberries are usually plentiful, and you may see squirrels, deer, or bears.
Length: 6.1 miles
Brown Mountain Trail is located near Butte Falls and is best used from April until October. The trail leads through the forest and flows to Fish Lake, with a splendid view of Mount McLoughlin.
Length: 5.6 miles
Cold Springs Loop is near Klamath Falls, and it offers a one-way or loop option. This trail leads directly to the Sky Lakes Wilderness, crossing Sky Lakes Trail and moving towards the Sky Lakes Area.
Length: 2.7 miles
If fishing is your pastime of choice, try one of the high-elevation lakes like Campbell Lake, Deadhorse Lake, or Cottonwood Meadows Lake for trout. Heart Lake offers trout as well, along with salmon, catfish, and steelhead. If you are lucky, you may catch bull trout. Warmer lakes offer large-mouthed bass.
If you enjoy the challenge of geocaching, you won’t be disappointed with those available in the forest. Klamath is a trailblazer for geocaching in Oregon.
The wilderness areas of the forest are the best places to view wildlife. Elk, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope are commonly seen among the trees, along with raccoons, squirrels, and voles. Predators also call the forest home and include black bears, bobcats, cougars, and mountain lions. If you are patient, you may catch a rare glimpse of the protected Canada Lynx or the Oregon Spotted Frog. If you prefer bird-watching, grab your binoculars, and you may spot falcons, American kestrels, bald eagles, or golden eagles. Other birds to see are loons, sandpipers, swans, pelicans, flycatchers, jays, thrushes, or starlings.
The best place for stargazing is the remote Hager Mountain Lookout. With an elevation of 7,195 feet, it takes a bit of planning to reach. In winter, the lookout can only be reached on foot with snowshoes or cross-country skis. During the summer, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is needed to drive to the lookout. The beauty of the constellations on a clear night is worth the effort to reach the lookout.
Address: 1301 South G Street, Lakeview, OR 97630
Fee: Entry fee $0
The Fremont-Winema National Forest is a trove of never-ending adventure whether you are looking for a wilderness to explore, want to hike, or relax and fish. The beauty of the mountains and the abundance of nature and water take you away from civilization, if only for a brief time. An RV makes it easy to travel to different areas of the vast forest.