High Lakes Trail #6200

The High Lakes Trail offers many opportunities, from a short hike along the Great Meadow to a 19 mile "out and back" mountain bike ride across the Cascade Crest between Fish Lake and Lake of the Woods. The compacted gravel surface is attractive for the hikers and cyclists through out its length, while the Lake of the Woods / Great Meadow section is level and accessible for person with disabilities.

On the trail you will experience the harsh, yet beautiful lava flows of Brown Mountain and view the symmetrical shape of Mt. McLoughlin, the highest peak in the southern Oregon Cascades at 9,495 feet above sea level. Bald Eagle, Osprey, and a variety of other birds are common at both lakes. Botanical enthusiasts will especially like the wildflower display at the Great Meadow area in late spring and summer. Portions of the trail are located within a mixed conifer old growth forest.

The trail offers interpretive signing at the four trailheads and at selected locations along the Great Meadow and Brown Mountain lava flows.

In the early 1900s the 11 mile Cascade Canal was built to carry water from Fourmile Lake to Fish Lake and subsequently to Medford, OR. At a point 0.5 mile west of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail the water from the canal disappears in to a lava tube and enters Fish Lake one mile away. Appearing as a small pond when the canal is flowing, the deposit of sediment has created a meadow at the edge of the lava when the canal is dry.

Considerations: Between Great Meadow and Brown Mountain trailheads the trail is generally flat with a few slight grades. The remainder of the trail has some moderate grades interspersed along the route.

If you choose to do the route one way with a car shuttle, it is easier to begin at one of the east trailheads as Lake of the Woods is more than 300 feet higher than Fish Lake. Conversely, if you choose the "out and back" method, you may want to begin at Fish Lake. This would allow you to finish the 19 mile trip with a descent of over 3 miles.

Carry water. The lava flow areas can become very warm during the summer months. The Cascade Canal, if running may provide you with a cool spot, but the water is unsafe to drink. No other water sources exist between Fish Lake and Lake of the Woods.

Multi User Information: NOTE for Horsemen and Cyclists: Pack and saddle stock are permitted on the trail between the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail and Fish Lake trail junctions. Stock users should take the Fish Lake trail to the tethering area provided on the east end of lake.

Cyclists are expected to reduce speed and ride courteously when encountering other trail users. Cyclists and hikers can also begin or end their trip at the western end of the Fish Lake trail across from North Fork Campground on Forest Road 37 (3 additional trail miles). Cyclists are forbidden on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (2 miles east of Fish Lake).

At a Glance

Fees: No
Open Season: May - October
Usage: Heavy
Closest Towns:
  • White City, OR
Water: Not available. Surface water should be treated.
Information Center: High Cascades Ranger District

General Information

General Notes:

Use High Lakes Trailhead


Mountain Biking

Difficulty Level: Easy to More Difficult

Day Hiking

Difficulty Level: Easy to More Difficult

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
9.3 miles

  Elevation : 
4,634 feet - 5,220 feet range