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Lake to Lake: In the Shadow of Brown Mountain


Lake to Lake: In the Shadow of Brown Mountain

Hiking, Camping and Fishing at Lake of the Woods and Fish Lake

As luck would have it, we Ashlanders have trails in almost any direction we roam. As an example, trails are quite abundant in the high elevations along Highway 140 up into the majestic Cascade mountain range.

For easy waterfront hiking, there’s Lake of the Woods. Flat terrain from the café and resort area heading north takes you through the forest along the lake for approximately two miles. Go past the Aspen campground and marina to see and learn about a beautiful riparian area.

For mountain hiking, head to Fish Lake and park in the Forest Service area. At the marina, you’ll find useful information about the area and geology, with a map that includes both Fish Lake and Lake of the Woods. South of the Forest Service parking area, the main road leads to a resort with food, gifts, and a rustic cabin atmosphere. Restrooms are available in a nearby outbuilding.

From the parking area, walk back up the main road towards Highway 140 a ways and choose a route. The High Lakes Trail is 9.3 miles one way, traveling southwest from Fish Lake to Lake of the Woods. [See “In The Shadow of Mt. McLoughlin” article for the “easy” hike from the south side that the Lake of the Woods café folks call the “South Lake of the Woods” trail.] The Fish Lake side has challenging terrain, with several steep ups and downs, as well as paths that change abruptly from darkly to brightly lit areas.

Sign on High Lake Trail Southern Oregon

The geology of the High Lakes Trail is intellectually and visually stimulating. The caldera from a collapsed volcano is evident throughout the surroundings. Volcanic details are available in the Forest Service display that describes the difference between “composite” and “shield” volcanoes. Nearby Mt. McLoughlin is an old composite volcano. Eruptions started approximately 200,000 years ago. Brown Mountain is relatively young in comparison (20,000 years).

On the High Lakes Trail, you’ll see nature and man at work in the downed and cleared trees. In mid-April, a few wildflowers are blooming, but most of the groundcover plants are just green. Tiny wild strawberries could be ready to pick in May.

The elevation of Fish Lake is 4,542. At 483 acres in size, depths range from 18 to 31 feet. A license is required to fish for and catch Eastern Brook and Rainbow trout (bait, fly, or spin).

Directions: Head out of town from the center of Ashland down Siskiyou Blvd to Ashland St, where you will take a left. Follow Ashland St. over I-5, and just after half a mile take a left on Dead Indian Memorial Highway. Follow this road and take a left at Big Elk Rd. (after Howard Prairie Lake), then a right onto Highway 140. Not too far after turning onto Highway 140 you’ll see Fish Lake. We provide a map below for more information.

Camping: You can stay overnight summer through fall at the Forest Service’s Aspen or Sunset Campgrounds in the Fremont National Forest. Aspen has 40 sites that can be reserved in advance. Sunset is located 2.5 miles from the junction of Highway 140 and Dead Indian Memorial Road. Standard sites accommodate recreational vehicles, tents, and trailers.

For more information, visit the Forest Service’s website.

Outdoor Recreation Safety Note: Please be sure to read our safety note on our Outdoor Recreation home page.