If you are looking for a wilderness experience that offers true solitude, you’ll want to check out the north end of the beautiful Sky Lakes Wilderness. The rugged trails in this area are not for novices, but the savvy rider will enjoy meadows, mountain views, waterfalls, and plenty of peace and quiet. And Bessie Shelter offers a nice dispersed campsite for riders.
- Challenging trails
- 20+ miles of trails
- Elevation 4,700 feet
From Bessie Shelter, you can ride a 12.5-mile loop on the Tom and Jerry and Mudjekewis Trails. The trails run through beautiful hemlock and fir forest, through the fire scar for the 2008 Middle Fork Fire, along lush meadows with seasonal wildflowers, and past gigantic views of the Middle Fork Canyon (nearly 3,000 feet deep), the Rogue Valley, Mt. McLoughlin, and Mt. Shasta.
A short trailer drive away, the Red Blanket Loop has, unfortunately, been closed for several years because of severe winter storm damage. The Forest Service hopes to restore the trail, which runs through a canyon near the southern boundary of Crater Lake National Park. The trail provides access to Red Blanket Falls, Stuart Falls, and several other waterfalls
The best camping at the north end of the Sky Lakes Wilderness is at Bessie Shelter, a dispersed site in a lush meadow. The shelter itself is in good condition, but the corrals are falling down, and you won’t find a toilet or picnic tables. You will find stock water from nearby Bessie Creek, parking for many trailers, and trees for highlining.
You’ll find more information about the riding at the northern end of the Sky Lakes Wilderness in Riding Southern Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, available at www.NWHorseTrails.com.