Cherry Creek Trail – Sky Lakes Wilderness, Oregon

October 5, 2002

Basically the purpose was to reconnoiter the area for future trips for fishing, kids, hiking, camping and general playing. I was delighted to find an abundance of lakes, 20-25, within a few miles of each other, most looking like excellent fish habitat. Access is relatively easy with a 5-1/2 mile walk and a 1300 foot elevation gain to the first lake (Trapper). Most of that gain is in the last mile going up 1000 feet. Coming out I wanted to reconnoiter the feasibility of driving up the Cherry Peak Road (gaining almost 6,000) then traversing in to the lake basin, only 2 miles. I would check this out by doing it in reverse, thereby having the advantage of going downhill to Cherry Creek if the going got real rough. This route turned out not to be good. There are several rockslides, steep terrain and some thickets of snowbrush to cross on the butte west of Cherry Peak. Once beyond that butte, to the west, the going is not bad. Tree fall is light and brush is sparse. Going down from the Cherry Peak Road to the Cherry Creek Trail is gruesome. Very steep (900 foot drop in less than ½ mile and heavy thick snowbrush. This route is really out of the question.

7:45 am Left trail head 4700’
My route was straight up the cherry creek trail, which is a 10 minute drive on good gravel road from hwy 34. From there the trail goes 51/2 miles to trapper lake.

11:09 Arrived at Trapper lake. 5850’
The view of Trapper lake with Luther Mtn. In the background is quite striking. I threw a fly out, but had no strikes or interest from the fish.

Lake Margarette 6000’
From there i walk around the north side of Trapper Lake to Margarette Lake. Again I could not draw any interest from the fish. Luther Mtn. Was looking quite inviting so I decided to hike up Luther then, time permitting, hike over to Hoist Lake on the other side of the divide to see what the terrain and fishing was like.

Seeing a possible “shortcut”, I went around the north side of Margarette and up a steep draw about a 600’ in about ¼ mile. That took ½ hour and cut out 1-3/4 miles of trail. (it really was a shortcut this time) From there I scrambled up Luther Mtn. 7163 feet.

1:10 pm arrived at Luther Summit 7163’
The view is grand from Luther Ridge and from the summit. Looking from south to north one sees Mt. McLaughlin, Pelican Butte, Upper Klamath Lake and Mt. Scott. Mt. Shasta is not visible. Below there are 20-25 lakes scattered from north to south around the east side of Luther. Many not on my map. To the west is a different story. Accessing Hoist Lake would be a real march, especially with a heavy pack. The terrain is steep up and down along the divide trail for three miles from Margarette Lake with a 550 plunge through what I guess to be heavy brush in less than ½ mile to Hoist Lake. Maybe the fishing would be worth it, but not with a heavy pack.

1:40 pm Left summit.
Decided to check out the feasibility of driving up the Cherry Peak Road and bushwhacking in to the lake basin,hitting Wizzard or Land Lakes by doing the route in reverse. Going down the divide trail to No-See-Um lake I shot a field bearing to the north side of Land Lake. I overshot the lake to the south. I reset my declination from 20 to 171/2 degrees and decided to be more careful in my map bearing. (this was not a field bearing) From there I shot a visual field bearing along the north ridge of the butte just west of Cherry Peak, Which i will refer to as West Butte.

The going was easy and relatively flat while in the lake basin. I passed a couple of little lakes. One might have held fish. I could not take the time to check it out though, due to the late hour. I wanted to be back to the Yukon (truck) by 6:00pm.

When I got near West Butte the terrain became steeper, with a couple of large rockslides to cross and some patches of snowbrush and some fallen timber.

Finally at 4:20 I decided to bail, not having reached the road yet and only 1 hour and 40 minutes left to get back to the trailhead. I started down to Cherry Creek. Not having gone only 10 minutes I suddenly crossed the abandoned dirt road that i had been searching for. I followed it thinking it might possibly go down further than the map showed or there may be a trail not on the map that goes down to Cherry Creek. No such luck. The road quickly became overgrown with heavy high thickets of snowbrush making travel, even down hill, very difficult. I tripped in this area and fell hard, bruising my right upper ribs. (not again). This route is definitely out of the question. 4:20 pm

6:09 pm Arrived back at the truck.

Total length: 14 miles
Total time: 11 hrs 35 min.
Total elevation gain: 2463 feet

I definitely want to go back up again. Xc skiing in the winter looks very inviting and camping, hiking, fishing, and playing in the summer has me smiling just thinking about it.

Looking for partners to ski in this winter,

Bob Sandberg