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. 🙄

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After the Deluge: Blue Grotto 27-Oct-2021

And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.

Well, the biblical-scale deluge seems to have targeted mainly California. We got what amounted to a passing glance. But still a very welcome glance given our drought and all. Enough wetness to maybe bring some of our smaller intermittent streams to life? Like the unnamed one that feeds the Blue Grotto on the shores of Lost Creek Lake? We try to visit the Grotto in the Spring when winter rains create the waterfall that is at its greenish-blue heart. Although we were there just this February, we thought: “Why not go see what the recent rains have done for it?” Even if it was still dry, the out-and-back hike to it on the North Shore Trail from the Lost Creek Trailhead is a very pleasant one and, at this time of year, one through Fall colors. 😊

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Lost Creek Lake (Southwest Oregon) 09-May-2021

Our friend Jennifer is a Southern Oregon native and her parents and brother still live in Medford. When she’s in town visiting them, and our schedules mesh, we try to do a hike with her. Today being Mother’s Day and all, there was just time for a short hike together in the morning. An out-and-back at Lost Creek Lake – between the Lewis Road Trailhead and the Blue Grotto – was deemed just the right length (4.5 miles / 7.2 km). The Grotto’s waterfall is now dry. This is, however, that fleeting moment in the annual water cycle when the reservoir is near full. For a couple of months, it will actually look like a lake, rather than like a mud-ringed bathtub (it’s now at 83% full and that may be as good as it gets this year). Plus there are some different wildflowers in bloom now. So we went out-and-back, enjoying views of the lake, catching-up on gossip, trying to identify odd wildflowers, and dodging (hopefully) the massive growths of poison oak bordering the trail. It was two hours well spent, with plenty of time remaining afterward for Mother’s Day festivities. 🙂

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Fawn Butte – Blue Grotto Loop (Southwest Oregon) 07-Feb-2021

The Blue Grotto is a geologic feature just above of the North Shore Trail on the north side of Lost Creek Lake. It’s where a seasonal stream has cut a 40-foot (12 m) waterfall through a greenish rhyolite formation that is ash from the eruption of Mount Mazama, the volcano that created the Crater Lake caldera. The Grotto is at its best in the late winter to early Spring when runoff brings the waterfall to life. We figured that rain and snow melt from a big storm a week ago had by now found its way to the Grotto’s waterfall, so we set off on our annual visit. In previous years, we’d simply hike out-and-back on the North Shore Trail from the Lost Creek Trailhead, which is a lovely hike. Then I discovered an old road that runs past Fawn Butte, above and parallel to the North Shore Trail. This makes it possible to form a loop that includes views from the hills, a visit to the Blue Grotto, and a walk along the lake.

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Fawn Butte Loop II (Southern Oregon) 14-Oct-2020

Back in February, when “normal” was still normal, I constructed a loop hike around Fawn Butte on the north side of Lost Creek Lake. It proved to be a good hike that traverses a variety of habitats, all on an easy to follow old road. The LovedOne was gardening then and passed on joining me. But I wanted to show it to her and today was the day for that. The only difference was that this time we’d explore to the end of the old road, rather than go cross-country down to the Blue Grotto (which is bone dry this time of year).

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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… 🙄

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Blue Grotto Redux (Lost Creek Lake) 07-Feb-2020

Lost Creek Trailhead to Blue Grotto, Lost Creek Lake, Oregon

It rained some. Then it snowed some. Then it did these things again (and again). The snow pack deepened. Creeks rose. Intermittent streams came alive. It was thus time for our near yearly pilgrimage to see the Blue Grotto in full flow. This is where, in a narrow canyon on the north shore of Lost Creek Lake, a seasonal stream falls some 40 feet over a pour-off composed of soft greenish rock, which is ash from Mt. Mazama (which exploded, some 7,000 years ago, to form Crater Lake). The walk to the Grotto from the Lost Creek Trailhead (7 miles out and back, with no appreciable elevation gain) is a pleasant stroll through oak and pine forests, across meadows, and over several side creeks, with views of the lake all along the way.

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Hiking Southern Oregon: 25 Hikes (February 2020)

To celebrate our 600th post on WordPress, we’re highlighting a select few of the many hikes we’ve enjoyed here in Southwest Oregon.

As we’ve perused lists of Oregon’s greatest hikes, we’ve come to notice that these lists are heavily skewed, with a few exceptions, toward hikes near Portland.  That metro area’s greater population helps if a list is based on some kind of vote.  And proximity to its major airport helps get votes from those who drop in for a brief Western adventure.  Even some of the classics, like the Wallowas in Eastern Oregon or the Three Sisters in Central Oregon, often don’t make these lists because they are too far away.  So a lot of “great” hikes get done near Portland – the state’s most populated town. And then the complaints roll in about how there’s no parking, the trails are too crowded, you need a permit or must pay a fee, it’s raining, etc.

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Blue Grotto (Lost Creek Lake, Oregon) 04-Mar-2019

Lost Creek Lake is a very large reservoir on the main stem of the Rouge River approximately half way between Crater Lake National Park and Medford, Oregon. In a narrow canyon toward the lake’s north end is the Blue Grotto. Here a seasonal stream falls some 40 feet over a cliff composed of bluish-greenish ash from the eruption of Mount Mazama – the massive volcano that blew-up some 7,000 years ago to form Crater Lake. The Grotto is open all year but your best chance to see this ephemeral water feature is between March and May when runoff (from rain or snow melt or both) is highest. It’s a great winter destination when we don’t want to engage with snow in the high country.

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Blue Grotto (Lost Creek Lake, Oregon) 02-Feb-2018

Blue Grotto Lost Creek Lake Oregon

Lost Creek Lake is a very large reservoir situated on the main stem of the Rouge River in a scenic valley approximately half way between Crater Lake National Park and Medford, Oregon. Two trails – the North Shore and the South Shore – circle the lake. Situated at about 2,500 feet elevation, these trails are open year-round, even when snow (ha!) closes those further up in the Cascades.  Thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers (the folks who actually operate the dam and this lake), both trails are well-built and well-maintained, and very easy to hike or bike.  The LovedOne was still catching-up on her library stuff, so it was up to me to take advantage of today’s outstanding Spring-like weather (the snowshoes are back in storage – sigh) by hiking to the Blue Grotto, where a seasonal stream falls some 40 feet over a greenish rhyolite cliff.  The green rock is actually ash from the eruption of Mount Mazama, the volcano that created the caldera now known as Crater Lake. 

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North Shore Trail (Lost Creek Lake) 13-May-2016

Upper Rogue River Trail Oregon

Lost Creek Lake is a 3,340 acre (when full) reservoir situated on the main stem of the Rouge River in a scenic valley basin approximately half way between Crater Lake National Park and Medford, Oregon.  It was created in 1977, mainly for flood control and power generation purposes, with the completion of the William L. Jess Dam.  Since then it has become a major local recreation area, with boating, fishing, beaches, and miles of lake shore trail (for hikers, runners, equestrians, and mountain bikers).  Situated at about 2,500 feet elevation, the trails are open year-round, even when snow closes those further up in the Cascades.  But, like most of the water management reservoirs in our area, the level of this lake rises and falls some 60 feet with the seasons – going from a mud-rimmed bathtub in winter to a “real” lake during the summer.

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