The Sky Lakes Traverse is an enchainment of five(or seven) 7000 foot peaks that form a semi-cirque around the south side of the Seven Lakes Basin. Although it is quite mellow climbing, it is a long and exhausting day, involving lots of off trail travel and elevation gains and losses. Starting from the west side on the Seven Lakes Trail, the route gains over 3500 feet in elevation and is close to ten miles round trip.
The Seven Lakes Basin
To get there, take Highway 62 east from the city of Medford, Or., drive for about fourteen and a half miles, then turn right onto Butte Falls Highway for fifteen miles to the town Butte Falls, continue one mile past the town before turning left at a sign for Prospect. Drive nine miles to Prospect, where you will drive east on the Prospect-Butte Falls Highway, apparently also called Red Blanket Road. Drive east for close to four miles, then turn left onto Bessie Creek Road 37. Continue on FR 37 for approximately 13 miles, passing several bridges and the Imnaha CG along the way. Turn left onto FR 3780. Drive for a little over four more miles until you come to the TH on the right, which is clearly marked and has ample parking. There is also a trailhead on the east side, but it is generally a longer drive and hike, so I will not include it here. For more information, consult William Sullivan's book, 100 Hike In Southern Oregon, Navillus Press.
From the TH, follow the Seven Lakes Trail as it ascends in an eastern direction up a broad, forested ridge of mountain hemlock, fir and western white pine. Before a mile has gone, you will come to a fork in the trail. Bear right, and hike for another mile and a half or so until you come to Frog Lake, a pretty pool where the trail takes a short break from the ascent. Continue on, heading upwards again for close to another mile and a half where you reach another trail junction at a pass with the first views of Devils Peak. Bear right, and after a very short distance, ascend west through the trees.
Lucifer(left) and Jupiter (out of sight to the right)
Once you are at the base of the huge scree field, climb through it, picking the best way through the shifting plates. Ascend about five or six hundred feet and pass through a small band of trees. The summit is right above. From Venus, drop down to the west side of the mountain and skirt around a cliff on its southern ridge. Follow this ridge south, traversing around spires and smallish cliffbands until you once more have to ascend a scree field to reach the flat summit of Jupiter. Look, but do not disturb several Native American pits dug for(presumably) spiritual purposes. From there, you drop down to the northeast side of the mountain and descend the connecting ridge leading to Lucifer Peak, also skirting gendarmes and cliffs until you reach your third peak of the day. From there, the next ridge is quite short but a little steep, but soon you will reach the saddle where you connect with the PCT. From there, descend on the PCT for a very short distance until you take a left on the Devils Peak trail, which will lead you in five minutes to the summit. From there, return to the PCT and take another left, until you reach the saddle between Devils and Lee. Head east on the ridge, generally keeping on the south side of the ridge when difficulties present themselves. This is definitely the toughest of the five peaks, but is still a relatively easy scramble, though there is lots of loose rock. (There is also the potential to add two peaks to this marathon - Luther Peak (7,163') and Shale Butte (6900?), which I plan on doing next summer)
Luther Mountain, my next objective in the enchainment
Go light, taking lots of water and food. This is a long day in the mountains, but there is no technical difficulties to worry about. A camera is definitely a must.
One of the pinnacles below the summit of Jupiter
Sitting somewhat east of the Cascade Crest, the weather here is a bit drier and warmer, and so in summer it is often a great place to come, though it is certainly a large and high enough uplift that snow can occur anytime of the year. For weather information, check here: Prospect, Or.