Strawberry Mountain Wilderness

The Strawberry Mountain Wilderness is located east of John Day, Oregon, in the Malheur National Forest. The area includes approximately 68,700 acres and encompasses the headwaters of Pine, Indian, Strawberry, Canyon, Bear, Lake, Wall, Roberts, and Big Creek.

Feature: High & Wild in Eastern Oregon
Read up on adventuring in Eagle Cap and Strawberry Mountain Wildernesses.

The area is dominated by the Strawberry Mountain Range with the highest point being Strawberry Mountain. This area has extremely diverse ecological makeup. Five of the seven major life zones in North America can be found here. It also supports native population of Rocky Mountain Elk and other wildlife. The additions including the Canyon Creek Research Natural Area have improved both the quantity and the quality of the wilderness experience.

When you go to the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, be prepared for hiking in the high country. The land is rugged, and elevations range from 4,000 to the 9,038 foot summit of Strawberry Mountain. Over a hundred miles of trails cross the wilderness, offering vista after vista to the enterprising hiker. And be prepared for more wilderness to roam. In 1984, the Oregon wilderness Act more than doubled the original area of the Strawberry Mountain wilderness to its current total of 68,700 acres.

If you are patient, lucky, and observant, you may see many kinds of wildlife in the wilderness. The list includes: elk, mule deer, antelope, black bear, cougar, California bighorn sheep, ruffed and blue grouse, pileated woodpecker, sharp-shinned hawk, bald eagle, pine marten, mink, beaver, and many more birds, fur-bearing animals, and other creatures. In fact, 378 kinds of animals and 22 fish species can be found in the area.

Water from springs, lakes, ponds, and streams should have proper treatment before you drink it. No matter how pure it may look, surface water should be considered unsafe to drink until properly treated. The most common disease associated with surface water is giardiasis, caused by ingesting the microscopic parasite Giardia lamblia. To be safe, boil or treat the water before drinking. The recommended treatment is to bring water to a rolling boil for five minutes.

The complex geological story of this landscape began millions of years ago with the buckling of an ancient sea floor beneath the area where the western part of the Strawberry Range now rises. Much later, volcanic ash and lava formed the eastern part of the range. Most recently, the business-like knife of glacial ice carved its classic signature-U-shaped valleys-into the mountains. The ice also hollowed out the rock beds that today hold the seven alpine lakes of the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness-rare pleasures in the arid wilderness experience.

In a normal year, most people use the Wilderness between July and November. Snow may be encountered at higher elevations any time of the year. The climate from September is mostly mild, with clear skies. Summertime thunderstorms may occur, usually in cycles lasting several days. Daytime temperatures normally range between 30 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit; nights are cool. Freezing temperatures can occur any time of the year.

Native Plants
Many plants and vegetation are found in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness. Some of the more common plants you might see are: Buttercups, Mariposa Lily, Shooting Star, Paint Brush, Wild Onion, Yarrow, and Western Jacob's Ladder. Vegetation such as: Grouseberry, Thinleaf Huckleberry, Creeping Oregon Grape, Swamp Gooseberry, Thimble Berry, and Sitka Alder are abundant throughout the wilderness area.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 13 Sep 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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