By Dane Johnson
Lost Creek Lake is located in Jackson County, Oregon approximately 30 miles northeast of Medford. The lake was created in 1977 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood control as part of the Rogue River Basin Project, and it’s now a popular lake for outdoor enthusiasts.
The lake is 10 miles long, has a 3,140-acre surface area, and contains 13 billion cubic feet of water; it’s one of the largest lakes in Southern Oregon. It’s open year-round to anglers and supports a large trout, spring Chinook, and bass population.
Fishing is big at Lost Creek. The lake supports smallmouth and largemouth bass and each September, ODFW releases 1,500 trout, eighteen-inches or bigger, to support the lake’s fishing community. Many anglers have the most success trolling the east side of the lake, past Peyton Bridge, where there are no water skiers. Downriggers and a fish finder are helpful because depths fluctuate a considerable amount throughout the lake.
The Cole M. Rivers fish hatchery is located just downstream from Lost Creek Lake and its dam. The hatchery produces Rainbow trout, summer and winter steelhead, and spring and fall Chinook salmon. There is an observation deck overlooking adult Chinook salmon, and viewing rooms overlooking the spawning area. For trout and steelhead, there are display ponds. Anglers can fish at the hatchery hole for Chinook and Coho during approved seasons, and above the hatchery, one can fly-fish for rainbow trout or explore hiking trails, as described here.
The lake is open year-round for boating activities: fishing, water skiing, wake boarding, and other water sports. The Lost Creek Marina accommodates all sizes and types of boats, and is finding much success under new ownership. There is a multi-lane boat ramp located at the marina, and one other boat ramp (Takelma) located on the southwest side of the lake. Boat and other rentals are available at the marina.
There are over 200 campsites located at Lost Creek Lake, with many in or close to Joseph Stewart State Park. The campsites are open from March 1 through October 31, but those dates are dependent upon snow levels. Showers, playgrounds, trash stations, and evening programs are available.
There are approximately 26 miles of bike paths around the lake. The east side of the lake has paved trails, and the west side is dirt and single track. The south side has a mixture of paved and dirt roads. It’s fairly rough terrain as the pavement is broken and unkempt, but it’s still ride-able and the scenery is wonderful. Good places to start would be Casey State Park or Takelma Drive.
There are hiking trails all around the lake. One of the best is located on the north side of the lake and goes under the bridge. It runs roughly six miles from start to finish. There is also a five and one half mile trail starting at the marina that goes through Joseph Stewart State Park and back.
The surrounding areas are popular for hunters, but access is limited. Look here for areas that are available to hunt around the Lost Creek Lake area.
The visitor center is located just below Lost Creek Lake at McGregor Park. It’s staffed from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The park contains restrooms, a playground, picnic areas, trails, informational displays, and wildlife and salmon viewing. It’s a great place to visit regardless of whether it’s staffed or not.
Birds, insects, deer and elk are all plentiful and wonderful to view, as is the hatchery. The tall conifers that surround Lost Creek Lake provide nests for osprey and bald eagles, and the thick forest provide cover for deer and elk. There is a lot of wildlife to see, so be sure to bring a camera!
Welcome to Lost Creek Lake!
Photos by Jason Haley, Cindy Broadwater, Lost Creek Marina, John Strenk, USA Corp of Engineers