Medicine Lake Recreation Area

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

The popular Medicine Lake Recreation Area and adjacent Medicine Lake are located in the Medicine Lake Highlands in northeastern California. The Recreation Area is located in the Modoc National Forest at an elevation of 6,770 feet.

See also Little Medicine Lake Picnic Area

Natural Features: Medicine Lake Recreation Area is nestled along Medicine Lake and mostly sheltered by mature lodgepole pine trees but can be windy at times. The Recreation Area lies adjacent to the Medicine Lake Lava Flow which is accessible by a short hike. The Glass Mtn. and Burnt Lava Flow Geologic Areas are located within a 15-minute drive.

Recreation: The Medicine Lake Recreation Area offers camping, boating, fishing and swimming. The adjacent Day Use Areas accommodate boating with a concrete boat ramp and dock. Swimming is available in a designated swimming area next to the Picnic Area. Hiking and mountain biking are available on trails originating in the Recreation Area. The longest of these trails is the trail up Little Mt Hoffman. 

In summer a boat dock is available at the launch ramp. There is no fishing or swimming in the vacinity of the dock or ramp. Ample trailer parking is available.

Medicine Lake has specific rules for skiing and use of power boats.  Rules are subject to change depending on conditions.  Please chek the rules posted on the bulletin board each time you boat on Medicine Lake.

Facilities: The Medicine Lake Recreation Area is comprised of four campgrounds; Medicine, A.H. Hogue, Hemlock and Headquarters Campgrounds. Nearby the campgrounds are Picnic Area and Boat Launch sites. Campsites vary between somewhat rugged with limited parking space to larger areas suitable for recreation vehicles. Facilities include vault toilets, water hydrants and garbage dumpsters. Campsites include a picnic table, fire ring and a barbeque grill. There are a total of 75 campsites throughout the four campgrounds. Fifteen of these sites are available for advanced reservations and located within the Medicine and A.H. Hogue Campgrounds.

Nearby Attractions: Nearby are a few other federal sites with interesting features. The Lava Beds National Monument is located within a half-hour drive and includes lava caves and tubes. The Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge is located within an hour's drive where many types of migratory waterfowl can be viewed

Medicine Lake Campground Maps

Maps below give reference to campsite locations and numbers in each campground.

Medicine Campground Sites AH Hogue Campground Sites Hemlock Campground Sites

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 4/8/2021: Winter is slowly waning in the Medicine Lake Highlands. Over-snow travel is still the only way to access the area at this time. The Forest Service's Sierra Snow Depth map shows between 40-60 inches of snow at Medicine lake and and some 20-40 inches of snow within a four mile radius of the lake. Some areas are likely to have snow drifts well over 100". Be prepared. Bring extra food, water and clothing in case of emergency and tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. National Weather Service spot-forecast for Medicine Lake.
Pack-in and Pack-out everything you need. No Fees at this time.
Operational Hours: Day Use Area closes at 10 p.m.
Reservations: Reservations can be made by visiting  Reservations must be made 7 days ahead of arrival and can be made up to 6 months in advance. First-come, first-served sites may be available.
Fees No fees over winter - Normally $14 per night for campsites
Open Season: June - October
Usage: Heavy
Busiest Season: July and August
Restrictions: Dogs on leash only. Please clean up after your dog. Camping limit 14 days.
Closest Towns: McCloud 48 miles.
Water: No
Restroom: Vault Toilets
Information Center: Maximum of two vehicles and 10 people allowed per site. Cell phone reception is limited and is not available in the vicinity of Medicine Lake Recreation Area. Each summer there is a Special Use Permit allowing a tribal gathering in the Medicine Campground Loop. This occurs during the 3rd weekend of each July for 5-6 days. The sites within this campground will not be available for reservation or walk in use during this time. The A.H. Hogue Campground Loop will remain open during this time and will be completely available for reservations and walk in use.

General Information


GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
41.58584, -121.58557
41°35'9"N, 121°35'8"W

From McCloud go east on US Hwy 89 south for 16 miles to Forest Service Road 15/Harris Spring Rd. Turn left on Road 15 and go 4.4 miles to Forest Service Road 49/Medicine Lake Road. Follow the signs 27.5 miles to Medicine Lake. From Tulelake take US Hwy 139 south for 21 miles to Forest Service Road 97. Turn right on Road 97 and go 24 miles turning right on Road 49. Drive 2 more miles turning left into the entrance of Medicine Lake Recreation Area. Follow the signs to your final campground destination.


Accessible vault toilets

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Camping & Cabins

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Water Activities

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Areas & Activities



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  Elevation : 
6,700 feet mobile app mobile app