Elk Lake Campground
Elk Lake Campground
The word foolhardy may come to mind as you find yourself at the junction that leads to this gem of a camping spot in Willamette National Forest, about 10 miles above the small, historic burg of Detroit. “Rough Road” is the more-than-understated message on the sign that the Forest Service has (jokingly, perhaps?) placed at the intersection of FS 4696 and FS 4697. The road is decidedly rough but, we found, not impassable if you hold onto your teeth and don’t exceed 5 miles an hour. As long as your exhaust system and oil pan sit high and secure, you should be okay. Hugging the southern boundary of Bull of the Woods Wilderness, peaceful Elk Lake is aptly named for the huge herds of elk that once grazed in this area. It lies in the subalpine shadow of Battle Ax Mountain, Mount Beachie, and Gold Butte and is a classic Cascade escape that probably remains so because the Forest Service insists on not improving the access road. (Perhaps the ill maintenance is intentional, but on the other hand, it may be a matter of funds.) Elk Lake Campground sits at the western tip of this peanut-shaped lake and is accessible by following the road along the north side of the lake to the short spur that drops down off the main road to the left. Elk Lake’s campsites are strung along the shore of the lake. Tall stands of Douglas fir and western hemlock share the land with white fir, birches, Oregon grape, ferns, and trillium to offer a prime collection of natural cover. In early July, pink-blossomed rhododendrons seem somehow out of place in this rugged, woodsy setting.
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Trail Statistics & Information
|Campsites||14 individual sites|
|Season||Open July to late September|
|Camp Elevation||4,000 ft|
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