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Mountain Lakes Peaks, Oregon

Mount Carmine and Aspen Butte from Mount Harriman
Mt Carmine & Aspen Butte f. Mt Harriman
Mts Harriman & Carmine f. Aspen Butte
Mount Harriman from Mount Carmine

Fremont-Winema National Forest
Summitpost (Aspen Butte)
Summitpost (Mount Carmine)
Summitpost (Mount Harriman)

The Mountain Lakes Wilderness lies immediately east of Lake of the Woods in the Southern Oregon Cascades. The terrain was reportedly formed as a 12000 foot volcano that has since been eroded, leaving reminant summits and glacier-carved cirques and lakes.

Aspen Butte (8208 ft) and Mount Carmine (7882 ft)

From Lake of the Woods follow Dead Indian Memorial Road south. About 8.3 miles south of OR Highway 140 turn left (east) onto Clover Creek Road. Follow Clover Creek Road east for 5.9 miles, then turn left (north) onto FSR 3852, signed "Clover Creek Trailhead". Follow FSR 3852, a good gravel road, bearing left at 1.9 miles and reaching the Clover Creek Trailhead at 3.2 miles. The road forms a loop at the trailhead and there is parking for several vehicles. (5800 feet).

Aspen Butte from Mountain Lakes Loop Trail

Follow the Clover Creek Trail north past Clover Lake to reach the Mountain Lakes Loop Trail at 3.3 miles (7000 feet). Turn right and follow the trail to a saddle at 5.1 miles (7500 feet) with a view of Mount Carmine where the trail continues downward into the Mountain Lakes Basin. At the saddle a climbers trail continues east up the ridge. Follow the climbers trail up the ridge to the summit of Aspen Butte at 6.3 miles.

Mount Carmine from Mountain Lakes Loop Trail

Descend the ridge the same way to return to the Mountain Lakes Loop Trail. Turn right and traverse down into the Mountain Lakes Basin to reach the junction with the South Lakes Pass Trail at a saddle SW of Mount Carmine (7300 feet). From this junction leave the trail and hike through open forest NE to reach the SW ridge of Mount Carmine. Ascend this ridge, staying near the ridge crest, to the summit of Mount Carmine. It may be easier to pass the first gendarme along this ridge on the left and the second on the right. Descend the ridge the same way to return to the Mountain Lakes Loop Trail and retrace your route back to the Clover Creek Trailhead.

Mount Harriman (7979 ft), North Ridge

From Lake of the Woods follow OR Highway 140 east. About 0.8 mile beyond milepost 47 turn left onto FSR 3637 signed "Varney Creek Trailhead". Follow FSR west and turn left at 1.7 miles onto FSR 3664, also signed "Varney Creek Trailhead". Continue straight on FSR 3664 at 2.1 miles and park at the large parking area at the end of the road just beyond the Varney Creek Trailhead at 3.7 miles (5500 feet).

Mount Harriman North Ridge Route

Follow the Varney Creek Trail about 0.3 mile, then turn left off the trail at about 5800 feet and begin climbing the north ridge of Mount Harriman through forest, downed timber, and brush. Carry a compass and take a bearing up the ridge slope you are climbing. Above 7000 feet you may find rockpiles you can climb to avoid some brush and to establish landmarks as you climb. The slope lessens near the summit and you break out of the forest on the summit, with views of the Mountain Lakes Wilderness, Aspen Butte, Mount McLoughlin, Pelican Butte, and Upper Klamath Lake.

Descend the same route. I used GPS tracking and compass bearings on the descent to help keep on route. Near 5800 feet turn westward and drop downslope to find the Varney Creek Trail and follow it back to the trailhead. Total distance is about 5.3 miles.


  1. Bond, Barbara I., 75 Scrambles in Oregon, The Mountaineers Books, 2005.
  2. Summitpost website (link above).
  3. Mountain Lakes Wilderness map (1993)