“The Pacific Crest Trail through Oregon's Sky Lakes Wilderness and Crater Lake National Park.”
— Bruce Hope
Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views
The usual federal wilderness area regulations and restrictions apply here. There may also be additional wilderness-specific restrictions in force; check with the district office if in doubt. Practice Leave No Trace (LNT) backcountry skills and ethics. Camp 100 feet from fragile areas; bury human waste at least 200 feet from water, trails, and campsites. This trail is usually closed by snow from November to June.
The Sky Lakes Wilderness is a long, skinny expanse of 113,590 acres, stretching along the crest of the Cascades from Crater Lake on the north nearly to Highway 140 on the south, the highway that runs between Medford and Klamath Falls. The west side of the wilderness is in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, the east side in the Fremont-Winema National Forest. It's pretty much everyone's favorite wild place in the Southern Oregon Cascades.
This section of the Pacific Crest Trail runs north to south through the Sky Lakes, starting at Highway 140 in the south, crosses a number of trails along the way that allow access to various lakes or can be used to form running or backpacking loops, then crosses Crater Lake National Park, and ends at Highway 138 in the north. The biggest downside to the Sky Lakes are the thirsty hoards of mosquitos that infest the area from late-June to early-September.
Note that the main PCT through the Park does not come close to Crater Lake—it's basically a path through a forest. This is fine if you're a thru hiker needing to make miles but, if you want to see the lake, then use the PCT Alternate South and PCT Alternate North trails to get a wonderful big view of the lake from the West Rim.