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Wilderness in our backyard

Soda Mountain Wilderness is the newest area. Protected by the Bureau of Land Management since 2009, it is a 24,700-acre mosaic of biological diversity about 20 miles from Ashland. The heart of the wilderness is 5,720-foot Boccard Point at the junction of the Klamath, Siskiyou and Cascade mountains.

Before you go, check in with BLM’s Medford office, 3040 Biddle Road, 541-618-2200, www.blm.gov/or/wilderness/sodamountain/visit.php

Kalmiopsis Wilderness, southwest of Grants Pass, encompasses 180,095 acres of the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest and includes the headwater basin of the Chetco and North Fork Smith rivers and a portion of the Illinois River canyon. Elevations range from 500 feet at the bottom of the canyons to the rocky ridge of 5,098-foot Pearsoll Peak. The diverse topography and geology has created a wide variety of botanical species found nowhere else.

Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, 3040 Biddle Road, 541-618-2200.

Sky Lakes Wilderness includes three major lake basins: Seven Lakes, Sky Lakes and Blue Canyon. The 113,849-acre wilderness stretches from the border of Crater Lake National Park to Highway 140. In summer, mosquitoes are horrendous, so pack lots of repellent.

Contact Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, 3040 Biddle Road, 541-618-2200; see www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/rogue-siskiyou/recreation/recarea/?recid=77586

Mountain Lakes Wilderness, also in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, is a hiker’s paradise. The 8.2-mile Mountain Lakes Loop Trail winds along a volcanic caldera and connects the Clover Creek Trail (4 miles) from the south, the Mountain Lakes Trail (6.5 miles) from the west, and the Varney Creek Trail (4.5 miles) from the north.

Contact Klamath Ranger District, 2819 Dahlia St., Klamath Falls, 541-883-6714. See www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/fremont-winema/recreation/recarea/?recid=60185

The Sky Lakes Basin, part of the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area, can be reached off the Cold Springs Trail and provides numerous camping and hiking opportunities for beginning backpackers.