We had the opportunity to head into the mountains last weekend. The snow is gone and it has been replaced by a plethora of wildflowers!
Our destination was Gold Lake where we met up with some friends for a day of hiking and visiting. Gold Lake Campground is only an hour and a half from Cottage Grove, and it is an access point to many trails into the Cascade Mountains. We chose the easy Marilyn Lakes trail as our time together was more about talking and visiting than anything too strenuous.
The walk from the campground to Marilyn Lakes was easy and the trail well-maintained. After enjoying the beautiful lake and the amazingly blue sky, we continued on. According to Forest Service maps, this is a loop trail which will take you back to the gravel road heading into the campground. We discovered, however, that the trail from Upper Marilyn Lake to the road is minimal at best. Mostly, we followed the blue diamonds that mark the cross-country ski trail in the winter. (If you are not familiar with these, they are blue diamonds placed on tree trunks about 8 to 10 feet above the ground. From each marker, find the other marker before you continue on.)
Given the recent snow melt, the ground was extremely wet. Initially we attempted to keep our feet dry, but we quickly discovered that it was futile. Luckily it was a beautiful, clear, sunny day and wet feet were not a problem.
After lunch at the campground we followed the Gold Lake Trail along the northwest side of the lake to the Gold Lake Bog. Our goal was to find native sundews – a carnivorous plant that grows wild here. We were unsuccessful finding them this trip. Further research suggests we might need to be a bit more aggressive in our exploring. We will save that for another trip.
Before concluding, I should stress that Gold Lake and the surrounding area is full of bogs and wet lands. At this time of year that means TONS of mosquitos and other insects. Come with bug spray and be prepared for multiple applications.
Logistics: To reach Gold Lake Campground, take Highway 58 through Oakridge, past the tunnel and the turn-out for Waldo Lake. At roughly mile post 61.5 turn left onto Forest Road 500, a gravel road that will take you to the Gold Lake Campground.
The trail head for Marilyn Lakes is just to the right of the fee station. To get to the trail head for Gold Lake Trail, go past the fee station, across the bridge, and to the end of the road – just beyond the restrooms.
Please note this is a fee area, even for daytime parking.