Fawn Butte Loop (Lost Creek Lake) 26-Feb-2020

We’re having a run of unusually good hiking weather for February. So good, in fact, that we’re now officially classified as abnormally dry (which differs from being classified as abnormal – but I digress). Anyway, if this condition isn’t remedied by some late winter / early Spring storms, we could be in for a long, hot, dry summer. 😦 Suffice to say that the climate that was (and which we all got used to) is not the climate that’s going to be (and to which we’ll all have to adapt). In the moment, however, cool air and warm sun confronted us. I decided to take advantage of it for a hike. The LovedOne used it to get a start on this year’s gardening. We should note that February is, even for southern Oregon, suspiciously early for gardening. Let’s just say we’re adapting… 🙄

Three weeks ago we did our sorta annual hike out to the Blue Grotto on Lost Creek Lake. While downloading the track for that hike, I looked at the map and saw an old trail running from near the Lost Creek Trailhead north above Fawn Butte to Blue Gulch. If that trail were still extant, it could be used to make a loop around Fawn Butte past the Blue Grotto. So today’s hike was an exploration to see if this loop would go.

From the Lost Creek Trailhead, I went a short ways northeast on Lost Creek Road and then veered right on to an unnumbered forest road. This road is now closed and blocked to vehicles with a deep trench and high berm. Otherwise it’s completely intact and very walkable. After crossing Lost Creek,

The old road crosses Lost Creek

the road climbs up to just north of Fawn Butte. From there it was a short, but steep, walk to the top of the butte.

Climbing toward Fawn Butte through a logged area

The view from the butte is biggest to the south. Although the sun angle and overcast weren’t cooperating, I could, with some squinting, see Mount Ashland on the far horizon.

Lost Creek Lake and Tatouche Peak from Fawn Butte
Looking south from Fawn Butte
Fawn Butte from the old road

The map indicated that the old road continued on past the butte to some powerlines where it became a trail. Ah, no. I passed under the lines and the old road just continued as an old road. Very easy walking.

The powerlines are reached…
But the old road continues
Along the old road
Flounce Rock (arrow) from the old road
Crossing the upper reaches of “Blue Grotto” Creek on the old road

I stayed with the old road until it crossed the drainage that feeds the Blue Grotto, went a little farther, and then turned south for the bit of cross-country needed to connect the loop. This was mostly through an almost park-like forest with minimal undergrowth. About half way to the Blue Grotto Trail, I passed through a huge meadow that will probably be filled with wildflowers in two months or so.

Looking east across the huge meadow
A little water was still running through the meadow
Looking north up the meadow

It was a surprisingly short walk from the end of the meadow to the trail leading to the Blue Grotto. When we were at the grotto just three weeks ago there was enough water to fuel a small but respectable waterfall. With no rain since then, the waterfall has been reduced to a sad vertical drizzle.

The Blue Grotto’s waterfall is now just a wet spot

From the grotto I took the North Shore Trail back to the trailhead to complete the loop (7.9 miles; 1,000 feet of gain).

Lost Creek Lake
Along the North Shore Trail with Flounce Rock in the distance

Yes, the old road is a road but it gave me easy access to the country north of the lake. This included a grove of western red cedars, some big meadows, and a flock of actual wild (as opposed to urban) turkeys. The cross-country travel needed to complete the loop didn’t require much effort owing to the open terrain. I navigated just a little to arrive near the Blue Grotto but if you just go straight south from the old road you can’t miss crossing the North Shore Trail (or wading into the lake 😉 ). Overall, not a bad way to visit the grotto from the Lost Creek Trailhead without doing an out-and-back. 🙂

The Fawn Butte Loop
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6 comments

    1. The East and South seem to have gotten more than their fair share of cold and snow this season. We don’t mind the warmth here except that it comes with almost no moisture from the sky. We’re hoping for a little rain this weekend (or next). o_O

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  1. I think you should have them signage this loop and construct an actual maintained trail….sounds like a nice option…..tick country or does the road not have grass issues being non-maintained?

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    1. The road is largely free of grass and other vegetation. You’d probably encounter ticks on the cross country piece – I just sprayed my pants legs with permethrin for that.

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