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Blue Mountain Eagle Your Journey Begins Here Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blue Mountains mirrored in Olive Lake T

ming, hunting and hiking await those who venture to this scenic spot.

Camping, hiking, fishing and more await at NE county gem

By Cheryl Hoefler Blue Mountain Eagle

GRANITE – Tucked in the northeast corner of Grant County is a gem, brimming with Eastern Oregon beauty. Olive Lake, sparkling in the Blue Mountains at about 6,000 feet, offers an assortment of recreational activities. Camp- ing, boating, fishing, swim-

The 160-acre lake is located in the North Fork John Day Ranger District of the Umatilla National Forest, about 25 miles southeast of Dale off Highway 395 North, and about 12 miles west of Granite. A 2-1/2-mile trail circling the lake, though not handi- capped-accessible, is easy enough for all ages to manage on foot. It must be good enough for horses and bicycles, too, as tracks for both can be seen in places.

Plank “bridges” at several locations cross over small creeks and marshy run-offs that trickle into the lake. Short uphill climbs – just a 50-foot or so gain – are enough to provide better views and camera shots of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Abundant wildflowers add a showy splash of color, decorat- ing the route.


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The trail also accesses oth- ers to the Lost Creek and Sad- dle Ridge areas.

Bugs are plentiful too, per- haps the only downside to this otherwise picturesque and peaceful location. According William L. Sullivan in “Eastern Oregon” (pp. 94-95), “Mosquito's are a problem in July” – and that’s no lie. Agood dose of repellent should ward them off well enough for an enjoyable visit. A sign posted near the campground entrance notes that legend has it that the lake was named for the wife of either a miner or a dam caretak- er. On a possibly related note, remnants of a cabin may be seen in the area of campsite 10. Getting to Olive Lake is not very direct, but also not diffi- cult, with mostly paved roads the entire way.

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From John Day, head east on Highway 26 to Austin Junc- tion. Take State Route 7 for about 25 miles, turning left on State Route 410, which heads to Sumpter.

Continue, through Sumpter, for about 20 miles to the small, hillside community of Granite. There, turn left on Grant Coun- ty Road 24. Signs point the way to the lake.

After 3.6 miles, the road

The Eagle/Cheryl Hoefler

Top: Olive Lake offers tranquil beauty.

Bottom right: There is a 2 1/2 mile trail around the lake with access to other trails in the area.

Bottom left: Wild lupine is one of the many wild flow- ers that can be found while walking the trail.

becomes gravel and divides; this is the only part that’s a bit tricky. Stay to the right, which is National Forest Road 10; a small sign states the way to Olive Lake.

Another mile and a half, and you’ll pass the Fremont Power- house, which operated from 1907 to 1967, pumping water from the lake. Remains of the

old redwood pipeline may be visible along the roadside to the lake.

Drive on another 7-1/2 miles and you’re at the lake. At this point, turn right at the boat ramp sign; left goes mostly to camping areas. Fol- low the road toward the boat area and there’s a parking lot marked for “day use.”

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Several trails criss-cross down to the lake, which can be seen better at this point. Head down any of them to the main lake trail. Just avoid taking any of the many uphill trails you’ll see to the left, as they lead up to the campsites. The dam is to the right.

All that remains is to decide whether to start out left or right and you’re set, step by step, for a memorable day at Olive Lake.

For more information, call the North Fork John Day Ranger District office in Ukiah at 541-427-3231.

Olive Lake Umatilla National

Forest, North Fork John Day Ranger District

Elevation: 6,100 ft. Lake surface: 160 acres Activities: Camping, boating, fishing, swim- ming, hiking and hunt- ing.

Hiking trail: About 2- 1/2 miles around the lake, with access to other area trails. Camping/services: 21 tent/trailer sites and two for tents – $12 per day, maximum 14 days. Other services: Group camp sites, two day-use picnic areas and a boat ramp. This is a “pack in, pack out” recreation area with vault toilets, no showers and no potable water.

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