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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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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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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South Shore Trail (Lost Creek Lake) 17-Jul-2018

South Shore Trail Lost Creek Lake Oregon

Lost Creek Lake is a 3,340 acre (when full) reservoir operated by the U.S. Corp of Engineers. It’s 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. The Corps calls the trails that go around the north and south shores of the lake, as well as the trail that goes northeast up the Rogue River from Peyton Bridge, the “Rogue River Trail”, even though that name is usually reserved for the iconic trail that runs along the Rogue between Grave Creek and Foster Bar. Anyway, we’ve hiked the “North Shore Trail” before, particularly in the Spring when the Blue Grotto is in full flow. We touched on a piece of the “South Shore Trail” as part of a loop over Viewpoint Mike last year but had yet to hike all of it.  So, despite smoke from numerous lightning-sparked wildfires clouding an atmosphere whose temperature was pushing above 100ºF, today seemed as good a time as any to try that hike.  The LovedOne begged to differ, opting instead to do the library friends taxes in air conditioned comfort while muttering something about no fool like an old fool as I headed out the door.

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Blue Grotto (Lost Creek Lake, Oregon) 04-Feb-2016

Blue Grotto North Shore Trail Lost Creek Lake Oregon

While we’re glad, thanks to El Niño, to be able to snowshoe again, we do (selfishly) miss being able to hike clear trails in the high country in January. Casting around for snow-free mid-winter trails brought us to some lower elevation ones that we’d passed on during the previous two dry years. Two such trails – the North Shore and the South Shore – circle Lost Creek Lake, a reservoir managed by the Corps of Engineers, that sits astride the Rogue River about 30 miles northeast of Medford, Oregon. The Corps calls both these trails, as well as the trail that goes east up the Rogue River from Peyton Bridge, the Rogue River Trail. This can be confusing since neither trail makes contact with the famous Rogue River Trail many miles down river to the west nor much of one with the southern trailhead of the Upper Rogue River Trail (USFS #1034) to the east.  The common denominator is apparently just the river, whether the trails connect or not.

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