Olive Lake Campground to partially open this summer due to hazard trees and dam maintenance work

Contact(s): Darcy Weseman (541) 278-3722


PENDLETON, Ore. – The North Fork John Day Ranger District will open part of Olive Lake Campground for day-use and overnight camping on July 1.  Day use areas that will be available include the boat launch and docks, the hiking trail around the lake, and campsites #1-14.  Crews are still working to clear hazard trees from campsites #6-10, so visitors may hear chainsaws and find downed trees in areas that are not yet open. Campsites #15-27 along the east access road will remain closed at this time.

A mountain pine beetle outbreak at Olive Lake Campground has severely impacted lodgepole pine spanning approximately 250 acres surrounding the lake. This infestation has resulted in large numbers of hazard trees in the campground that need to be removed before the area can be opened to the public. Hazard trees are dead or dying trees in areas where they could fall on forest visitors at picnic tables or in campsites, parked vehicles in day use areas, or structures such as outhouses.

“We know that everyone loves Olive Lake and is eager to come up now that warm weather is finally here,” said District Ranger Paula Guenther.  “We appreciate the public’s patience and understanding while we finish up this year’s hazard tree removal and get the areas closest to the lake ready for visitors.”

Forest staff have been working to fall hazard trees on the road leading to and in areas surrounding the docks, boat ramp, picnic sites and campsites on the northeast side of the lake. These 14 campsites will be the only part of the campground open until further notice. A detailed map of the open portion of Olive Lake Campground is available on the Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/umatilla.

The schedule for opening other parts of the campground will be based on mitigations of hazards trees surrounding those campsites. The Umatilla National Forest is pursuing options to contract hazard tree removal along the East access road where sites #15-27 are located. Until the contract is implemented, that area of the campground will remain closed to any public access.  Visitors are asked to stay on the hiking trail at the south end of the campground rather than walking along the access road.  At the north end of the campground, hikers can cross the dam to access the trail that circles the lake, offering additional fishing and views of wildlife including osprey and otters.

Visitors are reminded that the Olive Lake dam is an aging structure and the headgate on the intake to the historic Fremont Power waterline is inoperable. The Forest Service has planned maintenance work around the dam this summer, including installing water level detection sensors and removing vegetation and debris in the spillway. 

A small portion of Olive Lake itself is closed, indicated by floating buoys that indicate the area off the dam where monitoring instruments and headgate controls are located.  Visitors should be aware that late in the season, the hiking trail and spillway will be closed for public safety while contractors remove old logs and debris that threaten to block flow through the spillway.     

Olive Lake is a popular mountain lake and campground located 12 miles west of Granite, Oregon.  The natural lake was deepened by a 30 foot-high dam built in the early 1900s by the Fremont Power Company to provide hydroelectric power, generated at the Fremont Powerhouse, to the then-booming gold mining community. 

For more information about the closure areas or permitted recreation activities on Olive Lake, please contact the North Fork John Day Ranger District at 541-427-3231.

The public is reminded that as sites reopen services may not be available. At Olive Lake, two outhouses are available at the north end of the campground. The Forest cannot guarantee restrooms that are open will be routinely serviced and those utilizing these facilities are doing so at their own discretion. Forest visitors should come prepared with personal hygiene items, including hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Additionally, be prepared to pack out any items brought on site.

Additional information about the Umatilla National Forest is available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/umatilla.

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/umatilla/alerts-notices/?cid=fseprd759492