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Mountain lakes

One of the best parts of summer is diving into a swimming hole on a hot, sunny day, and Southern Oregon offers lots of options.

We don't have room to list every mountain lake we know about, but here's a starter list to get you going:

Howard Prairie Lake, about 25 miles east of Ashland off Hyatt-Prairie Road, has a large swimming area adjacent to the day-use area at the resort. For information, call 541-482-1979 or see www.howardprairieresort.com.

Hyatt Lake offers a sandy beach, plenty of picnic tables and parking spaces. The lake is about 25 miles east of Ashland off Hyatt-Prairie Road. For information, call 541-618-2200 or see http://tinyurl.com/hyattL.

Emigrant Lake just outside Ashland is a popular water hole. Local masters swimmers have long used the lake for long, early-morning swims. For information, call 541-774-6324 or see www.jacksoncountyparks.com/emigrant_lake.html.

Lithia Park swimming reservoir is in the southern tip of Lithia Park, near the intersection of Granite Street and Glenview Drive. For information, call the city at 541-488-5340.

Lost Creek Lake has a large swim area at Joseph H. Stewart State Recreation Area. The lake is about 35 miles northeast of Medford on Highway 62. Call 541-560-3334.

Applegate Lake offers many miles of secluded or bustling shoreline. The lake has a large designated swimming area, but several coves around the lake, such as where Manzanita Creek enters the reservoir, are popular for swimming. Applegate Lake is about 30 miles southwest of Medford. Call 541-899-9220.

Big Squaw Lake, at 50 acres, and Little Squaw Lake, at 12 acres, both offer a calm, quaint setting. The hike-in reservoirs are located off Forest Service Road 1075 about nine miles east of Applegate Lake. To get there, cross Applegate Dam on French Gulch Road and take a right about 1.5 miles from the dam. Call 541-899-9220 or see www.applegatelake.com/campgrounds_squaw_lakes.html.

Sky Lakes Wilderness contains more than 200 natural pools and lakes. Depending on which lake basin you choose and the trailhead you start from, you'll have a lengthy walk, so pack a map. Some of the best for swimming are Blue Lake, Wizard Lake, Isherwood Lake, Lake Elizabeth, Lake Notasha, Dee Lake and Badger Lake.

The swimming area at Emigrant Lake is a good place to beat the summer heat. Mail Tribune file photo