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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Along Elk Creek (Southwest Oregon) 10-Apr-2020

Elk Creek is a tributary of the Rogue River and one that was planned to be turned into a reservoir to accompany the one that is nearby Lost Creek Lake. Fierce opposition prevented the dam from being finished (it was eventually breached to allow fish passage) and the land that was supposed to be at the bottom of a reservoir became a recreation area. The old road along Elk Creek now serves as a hiking, biking, and equestrian pathway.

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Viewpoint Mike (Southwest Oregon) 02-Apr-2020

We’re into week two of our shelter-in-place and hiking is still allowed. Provided, of course, you stay 6 feet (2 m) – or more – away from other people. This admonition to maintain a social distance of 6+ feet apparently confused a lot of people, who then gathered in large groups at beaches, in parks, and at trailheads to discuss what it means. 🙄 The powers that be were not amused by this failure to grasp the obvious and reacted by closing our state parks, our one national park (Crater Lake), and a bunch of national forests (mostly the developed parts but some trailheads too). The Bureau of Land Management chimed in with a few closures of particularly popular hikes under their jurisdiction. Sigh. Now we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the social distance message has finally 😡 been received, so that hiking (or any other outdoor activity) isn’t just banned outright. 😥

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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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Strolling Along Elk Creek (Oregon) 26-Apr-2019

The LovedOne needed some soothing outdoor time ahead of her helping out this weekend with Medford’s 5th Annual Comic Con. I wanted to go on a hike with her that didn’t involve trying to find the trail, steep climbs, ticks, or poison oak. The trail along Elk Creek near Lost Creek Lake northeast of Medford came immediately to mind.

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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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