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Slide Lake, Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, Oregon

Trail Name:  Slide Lake

Trail NumberSkyline Trail #385


General Location:  Strawberry Mountain Wilderness

 East Central
 Nearest city: 
 John Day
 Nearest amenities: 
 John Day, Full service community, population
 Managing agency: 
 USDA Forest Service
Type of Environment: 
 Forest, Alpine, Burned over forest
Area Map: 

 Forest Service Topographic: 441511837: Strawberry Mountain
 Forest Service Planographic (hardcopy recreation map series):  Southern Blue Mountains
Information Links: 

  Forest Service Images of High Lake.
  Strawberry Mountain Wilderness
Books and Trail Guides: 












Access: From the south and High Lake Rim Trailhead

          Forest Road 16 (paved), Forest Road 1640 (gravel)

 Type of road: 
 Road condition: 
 1/2 to 2 lanes, high quality, often badly washboarded by late season, steep. 
 Permits required: 
Where can permits be obtained:  NA
 Wilderness regulations apply
Season of Use: 
  Restricted by snowpack, the trail is usually clear from July through mid-September


 Trailhead Condition:  Good

[ ]  Room to turn/ park a trailer      [   ]  Restrooms
[   ]  Corrals/ tie rails        [   ]  Picnic tables
[   ]  Stock water available     [   ]  Firewood available/ allowed
[   ]  Human water available     [   ]  Camp sites


Trail Condition:  Good

Trail mileage: 
 Approximately 4.5 miles

 500 foot drop to High Lake, 600 foot climb and 900 foot drop to Slide Lake.
 Relatively gentle due to switchbacks 
Other Trails: 

 The Skyline trail runs the spine of the Strawberry Mountains for 17.8 miles
  and connects with most other trails in the area. 
 Loop Trails: 
 Yes, trails connect Slide, Strawberry, and High Lakes in a very popular loop
of about 17 miles
 Good Camping Spots: 
 Few and heavily used
 Distance to camping spots: 

 Lakeside at both Little Slide Lake and Slide Lake, but the best area for llamas
 in the meadow below the lakes.

 High for this area, but light compared to typical scenic destinations.
 Expect to see a few people

 Three, fords for llamas, maximum distance = 15 feet, two are lake outlets
 1 foot or less deep by late July
   Type:   log
   Maintained:  No














 Trail Hazards:

               [ X ]    Windfalls      [ X ]  Stream crossings                                         
  [ X ]    Dogs        ? ]  Poisonous Plants  
  ? ]    Horses     [   ] Rattlesnakes  
  [   ]  


    [ X ] Other: Lightening, Changeable  weather,
Cliffs and talus slopes






Recommended Llama Skill Level:  Master


General Description:

High Lake Rim Trailhead lies at 8000 feet and can be cold and windy even when conditions are pleasant elsewhere. There are no amenities, and often, no cell phone signal. There is adequate space for turning trailers if there are not many other visitors. On weekends in fair weather it can be tight.

Leaving from High Lake Rim Trailhead, you will find High Lake about one and a half miles on. It is set in a glacial cirque enclosed by steep cliffs making it particularly spectacular. Forest cloaks three sides of the lake, protecting two heavily used campsites. Fishing is available and encouraged as efforts are underway to control invasive non-native bull trout. The local mountain goat herd is often present on the cliffs above the lake in the evenings. A wildfire in 2013 burned much of the area between High Lake Rim Trailhead and the lake so windfalls are common. The trail then climbs to the equally high rim on the other side of the lake to leave the basin. It crosses an exposed alpine ridge before swinging across a half mile long talus slope as it drops into the Slide Lake Basin. This slope can hold snow late in the season. This route is not for people with a fear of heights or poorly trained llamas since there are trail side cliffs with shear drops.

Slide Lake is set in a glacial basin with sheer cliffs rising directly above Little Slide Lake. The lakes are mostly surrounded by a thicket of lodgepole pines. In the last ten years users have created campsites at Little Slide Lake where there previously were none. These and the sites at Slide Lake are not particularly good for llamas and are generally well trampled. A better choice is to camp at the sedge meadow below the lakes. This area is marked with a spring symbol on the topo maps. There are one or two good campsites here with room to picket llamas. The site is occasionally used by equestrians.

Slide Lake can also be reach from the north via Strawberry Basin Trail #375 and Slide Basin Trail # 375. This three and a half mile route begins at 5700 feet and climbs through forest to reach the lake after a 2300 foot climb. A side trip of less than a quarter mile to Strawberry Lake provides an added attraction.


Other Nearby Attractions:  Away from the lakes, the Strawberry Wilderness sees few visitors. The extensive trail network provide lots of options for exploration. The famous and beautiful Strawberry Lake draws most of the visitors in the area. Monument Rock Wilderness, a very short distance away sees very few visitors.


Reporter's Personal Take on This Trail:

his route, because of the cliffs and exposure is not for everyone. In some of the exposed places, if something goes wrong or the llamas don't behave themselves you can get into a pickle real fast. I have used a string of six llamas on the trail without a problem, yet I would recommend this only for experienced animals and wranglers. This is the most heavily used route in the Strawberry Mountains. In good weather, in the middle of summer, on a weekend you are likely to see other people. Because High Lake is so close to the trailhead, it attracts people with limited wilderness skills and ethics, so between the trailhead and High Lake, unrestrained dogs are common and can be a real nuisance. 

Submitted by:
Lisa Wolf

Burns, Oregon March 2015