Oregon

Lookout Point Lake

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Lookout Point Lake is a man-made reservoir southeast of Eugene, Oregon which also serves a hydroelectric plant. It's full in the summer but then they let it drain out in the fall so it's ready to capture winter/spring runoff. There's a major highway that skirts the reservoir along the south shore, and all my life I've ridden/driven along that highway on the way to other destinations, and always seen, in the months when the water is drawn down, people in their trucks down on the normally-submerged lakebed. In fact there are actual roads & bridges in the lakebed which are submerged in summer and visible in winter, and lots of interesting muddy curves, contours, hills, etc...just looks SUPER fun to explore with a vehicle.

I've always wanted to drive around down there so I decided to finally take a half day and go check it out. Alas, to my disappointment, apparently driving on the lakebed is no longer permitted. While there are numerous dead-end spurs which lead down towards the shore, every actual access to the lakebed itself is now blocked off by boulders.

Heading east from the town of Lowell, Boundry Road becomes an Army Corps of Engineers road which follows the north shore. This eventually leads up into National Forest lands in the hills above. A network of Forest Service roads wind up into the hills and along the ridgelines. It's heavily forested and I didn't encounter many view opportunities, though it's a good climb and the view is lovely when you can find a hole in the trees. Some of the spurs I explored appeared not to have been maintained or even traveled recently, and one muddy uphill track crisscrossed with runoff ruts eventually defeated my Forester (at stock height and all-season tires) and I had to back up for a while to find adequate space to turn around. The trees and undergrowth quickly encroach in this lush, temperate rainforest, so be prepared for some pinstriping action when probing some of the lesser-traveled spurs.

While much of the area is so densely grown you wouldn't be able to walk through without a machete*, I did find some fun little spots to get out and wander around. Decaying fallen big leaf maple leaves, ferns, mushrooms, and the Douglas fir canopy contribute a pleasing autumn forest scent against the relaxing burble of springs & streams trickling over exposed basalt.


*(which is not permitted anyway of course...please don't hack away at any undergrowth)


VIDEO OVERVIEW OF THIS EXCURSION (will open in large player):