“A trail used to access several lakes and the north end of Waldo Lake.”
— Bruce Hope
Lake · Swimming · Wildflowers
This trail is enters the Waldo Lake Wilderness and the usual federal wilderness area regulations and restrictions apply here. 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 often closed by snow between November and May. This area was burned in 1996 and dead trees still fall on the trail. It would be prudent to check with the district ranger before using this trail.
This trail starts at the Erma Bell Trailhead (a $5 per day fee trailhead) between the Three Sisters Wilderness to the north and the Waldo Lake Wilderness to the south. About 0.3 miles from the trailhead, you'll pass a junction with the Eastern Brook Lake Trail #3552. At 0.6 miles, you'll pass Emma Lake, and at roughly one mile, you'll enter the burn zone of the 1996 Charlton Fire. The area has been very slow to recover and dead, bare trees still stand. Trail maintenance is done periodically to keep the trail open, but do not be surprised if you have to scramble over, under, or around fallen trees.
At 1.4 miles from the trailhead, you'll reach a junction with the Whig & Torrey Way Trail #3581 and Wahanna Lake. Just past Wahanna Lake is a short (0.3 mile), steep side-trail down to Harvey Lake. At mile three, you reach Lake Kiwa and a junction with the Rigdon Lakes Trail #3555. Continuing south, you pass Rigdon Butte to the west, and, at six miles, you cross the outlet of Waldo Lake, the headwaters of the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. This is also where you leave the burn zone and re-enter the forest.
Continuing southwest, the Whana Trail #3583 overlaps the Jim Weaver Loop Trail (Waldo Lake Trail) #3590
for less than 0.25 miles beyond the outlet, then it veers west to pass Lake Chetlo and end at the Salmon Lakes Trail #3585