Wingman from the Roadside:
Driving north to Roseburg and then east on Highway 138 we arrived at a KOA campground on Lemolo Lake. We chose this spot due to its proximity to Crater Lake, a place neither of us has visited despite all our years in the Pacific Northwest.The road climbed moderately in elevation to just over 6,000 feet on a pleasant highway with minimal traffic. Turning off the highway we drove five more miles on a paved back road before arriving at the campground on Lemolo Lake. It was a bit rustic with the campground on dirt with mostly pull-through sites and about 200 feet from the lake.
On the short trail towards the lake was the KOA office in a small A-frame cabin which also served as the store and boat rental office. For a small fee you could rent peddle boats, row boats, party boats, and canoes and kayaks. We continued down the foot path to the lake and enjoyed the view of the lake and checked out the boats at the dock. It was too late in the day to head off on any major adventures so we took the short 20-minute drive to the resort area of Diamond Lake which is also where the nearest gas station was. When we arrived we found a crowded bustling resort and people scrambling for parking spots to get to the little general store. It reminded us too much of Lake Tahoe, although on a much smaller scale. A later Google search would tell me there were 38 motel rooms, 10 studios, and multiple guest cabins and way too many people in too small an area. We were out of there pretty quick. Not my idea of “Oregon’s Gem in the Cascades” or “a wonderful place to take in the beauty of nature”.
The next morning we drove the 35 miles to the Rim Village area of Crater Lake. It was a pleasant drive and on the way, not far north from Crater Lake, we pulled into a small trailhead parking lot of the PCT and found several hikers eating and relaxing. We took note of the spot as a possible resupply for the continuation of the trip next year. I’m sure Peggy had other thoughts running through her mind at that moment but this was one of the few times I actually exercised some discretion and kept my mouth closed. From here the road up and along the lake was spectacular. I can’t describe the lovely deep blue color of the lake but it was breath-taking. There were crowds at every turnout and we were just lucky to pull into the parking lot at the Rim Village just as someone was pulling out.
We meandered in and out of the other tourists, visited the gift shops and the old lodge, and took a few photos. We navigated through the masses back to the truck and away from the lake back to the peacefulness of our campground. After a relaxing hike along the Lemolo Lake trail to the dam and back Peggy grilled vegetables and we enjoyed a glass of wine and Smore’s before retreating back into the trailer and away from the mosquitos. In the morning after coffee, breakfast, and working crossword puzzles we went to the campground office and rented a canoe for the day. We paddled along the shoreline and in and out of the little inlets enjoying the hawks and various water birds. The water of the lake was murky from all the pine pollen and in most areas and was difficult to see more than a couple of inches into the water. On the far side of the lake we came to the inlet of the Umpqua River and the water was clear and we could see the trout dancing along the rocks and the flow line between the clean river water and the cloudy water of the lake. We turned back to head directly across the lake to the dock for lunch paddling a bit more firmly against the building breeze in the open water. In the afternoon we took the canoe out again, this time heading to the deeper waters of the north side of the lake and along the dam before returning to the dock and securing the canoe. It was a fun, relaxing day for us out on the water and enjoying the warmth of the sunshine. We have an awesome canoe at home and we agreed we would get out in it more on our home waters.
Warning posted at the USFS Ranger office and at the PCT Trailhead at Crater Lake.
Crater Lake, OR
Crater Lake, OR
Lemolo Lake and Peggy at the boat dock.