Blue Canyon Basin

I love a hike that lets you see five (or more) lakes on one trail. Sky Lakes Wilderness is a place I usually avoid in the warmer months just because it gets so damn buggy. Plus, there are usually a lot of people and we know about my aversion to people. But, seeing as it’s mid-October and the first snows have started to fall in the mountains, I wanted to check out the Blue Canyon trail before it became impassable.

When I got to the trailhead, there was a group of 6 or so about to start hiking. The ice and snow in the trees was warming up and ice chunks were hitting their cars hard, which I don’t think they realized. I backed up my car enough that it wouldn’t be affected as badly and took off down the trail with the dogs.

About 1 mile in, Round Lake appears on the left side of the trail. The sun was starting to melt and evaporate some of the snow and the surface of the lake was cold enough that it made for some really pretty fog.

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Enough snow to make it more difficult to hike, but not so much that it required snowshoes

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First view of Round Lake

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Fog rolls over the lake

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More fog

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After another mile, around 2.10 miles in total, I reached Blue Lake. Although there are clearly signs prohibiting camping, there were tons of campsites everywhere. The group of six was yelling across the lake as they searched for the perfect spot to camp.

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Blue Lake

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The trail follows the shore of Blue Lake for a while, then there’s a fork. The left goes to Mud and Beal Lakes, whereas the right goes between Blue and Meadow Lakes, heading for Horseshoe and Pear Lakes (I know, so many freaking lakes!). I decided to go right.

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Meadow Lake, obviously in a meadow

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More pretty fog

Before long, Horseshoe Lake came into view. Whenever I go to a Horseshoe Lake, I have to go to the middle of the U. I don’t know why, it’s just a thing. So, I found a somewhat trail that led to a flooded camp in the middle of the U, then came back to get some last pictures of Horseshoe Lake and go home.

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Horseshoe Lake as I headed for the middle of the U

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More Horseshoe Lake

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At this point, I had to decide whether or not I was going to go the extra .6 miles to get to Pear Lake. The sun was getting lower in the sky and that extra mile meant I could be pushing dusk by the time I got to the car, especially if I had any issues. Yet, I couldn’t pass up seeing one last lake. Plus, I was looking at the map and it looked like I would get a good view of the full length of the skinny lake, so I went the extra bit to see Pear Lake.

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Looking down the length of Pear Lake. Look how there are two suns in the water!

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In 4 short miles, I saw 5 new lakes and I could’ve seen more if I’d hiked a bit further. Heading back home, I started getting into the golden hour and the light was amazing. What a wonderful hike in the snow!

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One more shot of Horseshoe Lake

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Mt. McLoughlin ❤

If you’re curious, here’s the map and elevation profile for my hike:

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7.49 miles, 922 ft elevation gain, 3 hrs 19 mins. That’s Four Mile Lake at the bottom and Island Lake at the right.

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