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U.S. Forest Service

Pacific Northwest Region Viewing Area


View of Mt. Thielsen from the Pacific Crest Trail. Western skyrocket (Ipomoea aggregata). Photo by Gene Yates.

Penstemon deustus Hot rock penstemon (Penstemon deustus). Photo by Gene Yates.

Cirsium canovirens Graygreen thistle (Cirsium canovirens). Photo by Gene Yates.

Phillips Lake North Shoreline Trail

Forest: Wallowa-Whitman National Forest

District: Whitman Ranger District

Description: Phillips Lake is a good destination for people looking for signs of Spring in the mountains, while snow still blankets the higher slopes. The Phillips Lake North Shoreline trail traverses the northern banks of Phillips Reservoir connecting Mason Dam Boat Launch, Union Creek Campground, Social Security Point, and Mowich Loop to a western access point near Hudspeth Lane. Just a 20 minute drive from Baker City, Oregon, this trail provides an opportunity for quality wildflower viewing for people having a free afternoon.

Viewing Information: The trail passes through Ponderosa pine forest interspersed with small grasslands: Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis) and bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoreigneria spicata). Hikers can expect to encounter western flag (Iris missouriensis), Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum), tailcup lupine (Lupinus caudatus), and wild onions (Allium sp.). These are quickly followed by Douglas’ Brodiaea (Brodiaea douglasii), desert parsleys (Lomatium spp), western skyrocket (Ipomoea aggregata), western geranium (Geranium viscosissimum), Rocky Mountain helianthella (Helianthella uniflora), twin arnica (Arnica sororia), royal penstemon (Penstemon speciosus), hot rock penstemon (P. deustus), and many others.

Safety First: The westernmost portion of the trail past Mowich Loop Picnic Area may be underwater in the early spring when the reservoir is at its fullest.

Directions: From Baker City, Oregon travel south on Highway 7 towards John Day, Oregon for about 17 miles to the Mason Dam Boat Launch road (also shown as Forest Road 200); Turn left off the highway and go down about 0.3 miles to the Mason Dam Boat Launch. The trail begins on the slope above the toilet. This is the western access point. The trail may also be accessed from Union Creek Picnic Area, Social Security Point Trailhead, and Mowich Loop Picnic Area.

Ownership and Management: USDA Forest Service, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Whitman Ranger District.

Closest Town: Baker City, Oregon.