Fish Lake Trail #1013
The Fish Lake Trail offers many enjoyable recreation opportunities, including the option of a short stroll along the shore of Fish Lake or the North Fork of Little Butte Creek, to a day-long excursion from the trailhead to the Brown Mountain Lava flows along the connecting Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Bicycles are allowed on the Fish Lake Trail, but are prohibited on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.
Beginning at the parking area across Forest Road 37 from the North Fork Campground, the trail runs along the North Fork of Little Butte Creek, passing through a corridor of old-growth forest and opens into a small riparian meadows dotted with wildflowers. Brook trout feeding on insects dimple the water in the morning and evening hours. At 0.5-mile side trail to the right takes you to the base of Fish Lake Dam. The main trail turns left, leaving the creek and winding north through the woods before following the north shore of Fish Lake. This is a great area for bird watching: keep your eyes open for bald eagles and osprey!
The picnic areas at Doe Point and Fish Lake campgrounds are good midpoints to begin a hike in either direction of the trail. Continuing through the campgrounds, the trail takes you past the Fish Lake Resort, a good place to pause for refreshment.
Leaving the Fish Lake Resort, the trail skirts the end of the lake and then heads east through a forest edged with large blocky basalt lava. At milepoint 4.0 the trail ends at the High Lakes Trail #6200. If you continue east on the High Lakes Trail #6200 at 0.6 miles, an interesting geological phenomena can be viewed. In the early 1900s, the 11-mile Cascade Canal was built to carry water from Four Mile Lake to Fish Lake, and subsequently to Medford. At this point near the trail, the water from the canal disappears in to a lava tube and enters Fish Lake, located one mile away. Appearing as a small pond when the canal is flowing, the deposit of sediment has created a meadow at the edge of the lava when the canal is dry. Continue east another 0.4 miles to the junction with the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (bicycles prohibited). If time permits, consider walking south (turn right) on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail for another 1 or 2 miles. This is a very unique section of trail which contours the lower slope of Brown Mountain through massive gray lava flows. Fine views of rugged Brown Mountain and Mount McLoughlin are offered (carry water). To return to Fish Lake or the trailhead at Forest Road 37, you must backtrack the way you came.
If your group has two cars, avoid backtracking by leaving one car at the trailhead on Road 37 and driving to the Summit Trailhead (Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail) on Highway 140. Follow the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail south (crossing Highway 140) about 0.5 mile to the Fish Lake trail.
At a Glance
|Water:||Not available. Surface water should be treaetd.|
|Information Center:||High Cascades Ranger District|
From Butte Falls, OR, travel east on the Butte Falls/Fish Lake Highway for 18.5 miles. Turn east (left) onto Highway 140 for 2.5 miles to the Fish Lake access road to the south (right). Travel 0.5 miles to the campground entrance to the west (right).
From Ashland, OR, travel east on the Dead Indian Memorial Road 22 miles to Forest Service road 37 (Big Elk Road). Turn north (left) and continue 8 miles across Big Elk Road to Highway 140. Turn east (right) onto Highway 140 and continue 3 miles to the Fish Lake access road to the south (right). Travel 0.5 miles to the campground entrance to the west (right).
From Medford, OR, take Highway 62 towards White City about 8 miles and turn east (right) on to Highway 140. Travel east towards Klamath Falls on Highway 140 for 30.4 miles to the Fish Lake access road to the south (right). Travel 0.5 miles to the campground entrance to the west (right).
From Klamath Falls, OR, travel west on Highway 140 to the Fish Lake access road to the south (left). Travel 0.5 miles to the campground entrance to the west (right).
- Connecting trails: High Lakes Trail #6200
- Trail is not designed for use by horses, motorized bikes, ATVs, or 4-wheel drive vehicles.
Trail is not barrier-free.
Alerts & Warnings
- Effective 9/20: Wild and Scenic Lower Rogue River Stage 1 Fire Restrictions
- Illinois River Swinging Bridge Closure
- Butte Fork Trail Bridge in Red Buttes Wilderness Closed Through July 2023
- Effective 7/27: Forest-Wide Stage 1 Fire Restrictions
- Understanding Parking and Fire Restrictions on the Illinois River
- Bear-Human Interactions on the Rise!