The Strawberry Mountain Range is located in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness within the Malheur National Forest. The Strawberry Mountain Wilderness is an extremely diverse area with five of North America’s seven major life zones encompassed within its bounds. Camping and hiking in this area will yield plenty of stunning vistas, excellent wildlife viewing, and ample opportunities to explore.
There are over 125 miles of trails in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness. You can easily backpack for a week or longer in this area, coming across new and intriguing sights every day as you traverse the ecological diversity of the wilderness. Elevations here range from 4,000 feet to 9,038 feet at the peak of Strawberry Mountain.
If you want to reach the summit of Strawberry Mountain, you can choose from three distinct paths. The shortest hike to this point begins at Road 1640 and travels 3.6 miles up to the peak. Onion Creek Trail spans 4.9 miles on the way up the mountain. For the most comprehensive view of the area, however, you can take the 6.5-mile trek that starts at Strawberry Campground. This will take you past Strawberry Lake and Strawberry Creek Falls on the way up the mountain.
If you’re interested in solitude on your hike, the Big Creek Trail takes you along the south side of Strawberry Mountain where fewer visitors travel. You can camp all along the trail, but water is scarce so be sure you’re well-prepared for this journey. Mud Lake Trail is another hike that offers quiet and solitude in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness Area.
For stunning vistas, be sure to explore Roads End Trail #201A. This trail offers views of the John Day Valley and Bear Valley. Where the trail meets the Onion Creek Trail and Pine Creek Trail, you’ll have views of the Indian Creek Basin.
The Strawberry Campground offers a wonderful starting point for hikers in the Strawberry Mountains. This campsite is open from late May through October. There are just 10 campsites here. Reservations are not accepted so it’s first come, first serve. This campground provides both clean drinking water and restrooms.
Strawberry Campground is located just a short hike from Strawberry Lake which is a prime fishing spot for brook trout and rainbow trout. Creek fishing is available nearby as well. Hunting for Rocky Mountain elk and mule deer is permitted in season.
If you’re backpacking through the Strawberry Mountain you’ll find many scattered sites available for camping. You should note that all water in this area must be properly purified before drinking. The easiest method for doing this is to bring your drinking water to a roiling boil for at least 5 minutes.
There are many different types of wildlife that you may encounter in the Strawberry Mountains. Animals you should be prepared to come across include:
- Black bears
- Mule deer
- California bighorn sheep
The best time to visit Strawberry Mountain is between July and November. True to its name, this area is filled with ripe wild strawberries in July. Over the summer months, you may experience occasional thunderstorms. September is typically mild and clear. At the highest elevations, you can encounter snow and freezing any time of the year, so come prepared for all elements.
Here’s a topo map of the range that stretches East from John Day, Oregon