The Varney Creek Trail winds through a thick mixed conifer forest in the Mountain Lakes Wilderness, home to a collapsed caldera studded with glacial lakes and tarns. Start this 14.9-mile loop from the Varney Creek trailhead at 5,500 feet and hike south, passing the wilderness boundary after the first mile and continuing through meadows dotted with alpine wildflowers. In 4.5 miles, you’ll reach its junction with the Mountain Lakes Loop Trail 3727. Turn left and hike 2.2 miles to Lake Harriette’s north shore, a good place to set up camp. Return to the loop by following the Mountain Lakes Loop another 3.7 miles to the junction with the Varney Creek Trail and follow it south to the trailhead.
Note: After snowmelt, there may be many mosquitoes; be prepared.
Info: Fremont-Winema NF: www.fs.fed.us/r6/frewin
-Hike provided by Barbara I. Bond, author of 75 Scrambles In Oregon (The Mountaineers Books)
TO TRAILHEAD: From Medford, 62 N to 140 E. Go .4 mi. past milepost 47; R onto Odessa Creek Rd 3637. Go 2 mi.; L onto FR 3664. Trailhead is on R at end of road.