Best Hikes in Fremont-Winema National Forest (OR)

Fremont-Winema National Forest Overview

The Fremont and Winema National Forests were administratively combined in 2002 and cover 2.3 million acres to form the Fremont-Winema National Forest. The heavily-timbered forests extend to the west and border Crater Lake National Park and the Cascade Range. To the east is the semi-arid highland belt which is commonly known as “Oregon’s Outback” and includes part of the Warner Mountain Range.  The Oregon-California border marks the Forest’s southern border. Whether seeking solitude or a family get away, the forest offers a wide array of activities, with the best hikes in Fremont-Winema National Forest listed below. Fishing, hunting, backpacking, hiking, camping, boating, and leisure driving opportunities abound. In the winter, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing are popular activities. The Forests’ diverse habitats also support a variety of species, making wildlife viewing a unique recreation experience.

Nearest Metro AreaKlamath Falls, OR
Area Size2,252,587 acres
EstablishedSeptember 17, 1906
Hiking Trails436 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Fremont-Winema National Forest

(*** = best hikes in Fremont-Winema National Forest)

Cold Springs Loop #3710*** – 6.1 mile loop
Sky Lakes Wilderness, Oregon
Sky Lakes Wilderness, Oregon, Photo by Michael McCollough

One of the most direct routes into the Sky Lakes Wilderness. The trail heads northwest to meet Sky Lakes Trail #3762 which heads west to meet Pacific Crest Trail #2000 (PCT) and northeast towards Sky Lakes Area and Isherwood Trail #3729. There is a loop option back to the trailhead on South Rock Creek Trail #3709.

Gearhart Mountain Trail #100*** – 13.5 miles one-way
Hills around Gearhart Mountain-Fremont Winema
Hills around Gearhart Mountain, Photo by U.S. Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region

Heading north from the Lookout Rock Trailhead, after 3/4 miles hikers will arrive to the Palisades, an area of about 10 acres full of convoluted rock outcrops, balancing rocks, and deeply incised rock walled mazes carved by nature. A couple miles further hikers will get a great view of the Dome, a 300 ft. high bare rock monolith perched on the hillside like a giant gumdrop. Trail users can continue on this trail to the Notch (pictured below), a large cleft in the northern face of Gearhart Mountain itself. You can return to the Lookout Rock Trailhead at any time or complete the trail finishing at the North Fork of the Sprague River Trailhead.

Mountain Lakes Loop #3727 – 8.2 mile loop
Mountain Lakes Wilderness hike
Mountain Lakes Wilderness Hike, Photo by Loren Kerns

The trail provides a loop around the center of the Mountain Lakes Wilderness to access multiple lakes and a few peaks. 

Mt. McLoughlin Trail*** – 10.2 miles out and back
Mt. McLoughlin.jpg
Mt. McLoughlin, Photo by David Wood

Very arduous 5-mile long trail to the summit of Mt. McLoughlin winds through rocky terrain, and in many places, it is difficult to see and follow. After the trail leaves the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail behind (approximately a mile from the parking lot trailhead), the trail ascends through a boulder-strewn forest. Watch for blazed trees that function as trail markers! Above the timberline, piled-up rock cairns mark the route to the ridgetop summit route. Along the ridge, the trail is marked by the old Forest Service telephone poles which lead to the top. Best completed for hikers in the summer months once the snow has melted.

Yamsay Mountain Trail #3799 – 7.0 miles out and back
View from Yamsay Mountain, Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture

Not a great journey as you follow an old decommissioned road but the views from the summit of Yamsay Mountain make it worth it. On a clear day, hikers will be able to see the Three Sisters and even Mount Shasta.

Featured Image: Sunrise at Lake of the Woods, Oregon, Photo by Bonnie Moreland

Don’t forget to stock up on the essentials before you plan your next hiking or camping trip! We have recommendations on: