Benched at Lost Creek Lake (Oregon) 09-Jan-2022

The William L. Jess Dam impounds the Rogue River about 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Shady Cove, Oregon. The resulting reservoir is called Lost Creek Lake – one whose waters rise and fall with the seasons. This is the low season and the waters are now surrounded by a magnificent ring of mud. A good trail circles the lake – part of which we’ve used repeatedly to visit the Blue Grotto on the lake’s north shore. But we’d never repeated our first hike at the lake – from Takelma Park to the Blue Grotto in 2016. Possibly because, due to a tiny navigation error on my part, it’s remembered as an epic 15 mile (24 km) slog, the mention of which still induces eye-rolls in The LovedOne. πŸ™„

So it was with some trepidation that I suggested we reprise part of this hike – from Takelma Park to the bench beneath Fawn Butte – to celebrate a sunny break in the atmospheric river. I stressed that miles wouldn’t again get confused with kilometers (hey, it happens to the best), that we’d only go as far as the bench, and that our route had been peer reviewed, etc. Either contrition or time must heal all wounds because The LovedOne said “Sure, sounds good.” And so we found ourselves heading north over the turtle pond causeway from the day use parking lot on a cold (30℉ / -1℃), but brilliantly sunny, morning. 😎

This is a trail near the Rogue River – but it’s not THE Rogue River Trail
The turtle causeway was slippery with frost
On the trail
Flounce Rock
On the trail
Mushrooms are still with us

About 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the parking lot, we passed through Four Corners Camp. This is a tent campground (but with a pit toilet πŸ™‚) that is accessible as a walk-in from Takelma Drive or from the lake (during the summer when it’s closer to full).

Sunshine at Four Corners Camp
A decaying Oregon Grape provides a burst of color
On the trail with Flounce Rock in the distance
On the trail in the cold shade
Cold I
Cold II

After rounding the point north of Four Corners Camp, the trail briefly follows Takelma Drive, then resumes as a single-track to the Lost Creek Trailhead (and another pit toilet). This is the trailhead we’ve used several times for out-and-back hikes to the Blue Grotto. Our only meaningful climb (and a small one at that) of the day occurred between here and the bench below Fawn Butte.

On the way to the Lost Creek Trailhead
One of the many unnamed creeks that are gushing thanks to the recent rains
Tree fungus
Climbing toward the bench
The brave hiker smile appears at the bench…
Protected by the bench ninja…

We reached the bench 5 miles (8 km) from the trailhead – just as planned. The brave hiker smile burst forth and all was well! Ah, sweet redemption. πŸ˜… So we had a sit and a snack, soaked-up a few rays, and started back the way we’d come.

Going back
Looking across the lake at the bench
On the trail back
Lost Creek Lake with Flounce Rock on the left
Past Four Corners Camp
Happily moist and lush moss festooned the trees
Approaching the boat ramp
And back across the Western Pond Turtle causeway

All told, we did 10 miles (16 km) out-and-back, with a cumulative elevation gain of about 1,000 feet (305 m) – the trail undulates a lot and all those little ups and downs add up. The LovedOne was pleased with this hike and I was pleased that she was pleased. 😍 We encountered a few hikers and runners as far as Four Corners Camp but none thereafter. It was sunny and warm enough for there to be picnics at the day use area and the boat ramp was busy. So – apparently – a good day in the outside was had by all! 😁

Our out-and-back route: Four Corners Camp (4), Lost Creek Trailhead (L), the bench (B)
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