Miller Lake (Siskiyou Crest, Oregon) 08-Nov-2018

Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon

Miller Lake is a charming little three acre lake perched on the side of a ridge above Sturgis Fork to the east of Oregon Caves National Monument. It’s a natural lake that was deepened with an earthen dam years ago by the Thompson Creek Irrigation District. The dam remains but the old service road to it has been closed. There is now a good single-track trail that goes to the lake and then circles around it for views from the ridge above. The trailhead is at the end of Forest Road (FR) 1020-400 and the circuit up and around the lake is only 3.4 miles if you can drive to the trailhead. Unfortunately,  the bridge that got FR 1020-400 across Sturgis Fork was removed in 2006. Motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and high-clearance cars and trucks can cross the Fork at low water (good luck with that during Spring runoff). Otherwise you have to walk up the road, which adds 6.6 miles round-trip to the journey. Although getting across the creek in my 4×4 truck wouldn’t have been a problem, I decided to walk for the exercise (The LovedOne had meetings at the library).

It was cold down in the canyon,

Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
It was a frosty morning

where FR 1020-400 used to cross Sturgis Fork on a road bridge.

Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
Where FR 1020-400 now fords Sturgis Fork

After dancing over the icy rocks in the creek, I walked up the road, which is still in excellent condition. Despite being a road, it was nonetheless a pleasant walk. There was even a view to the north of Grayback Mountain and the brown scars of the 2017 Creedence Fire that ravaged its southern slopes.

Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
Grayback Mountain and the Creedence Fire

The road ends at the Miller Lake Trailhead (USFS #902) and a good trail climbs from there,

Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
On the trail to the lake

to Miller Lake, where the sun’s angle wasn’t conducive to photos of the whole lake.

Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
Miller Lake

From the lake, I went west on the trail (still not shown on most maps), climbing past some old-growth,

Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
Old-growth along the trail

and above “Little Miller Lake” (not named on the map), an all-natural but much shallower lake than Miller. This morning it was sporting a layer of ice where it was in the shade.

Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
Little Miller Lake
Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
Little Miller Lake, with Grayback Mountain and Big Sugarloaf Peak in the distance

Shortly after passing above Little Miller, I came to the rocky crest of the ridge between the Sturgis Fork and Steve Fork drainages,

Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
Point 6070 from the ridge crest

with views to the north and northwest.

Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
Grayback Mountain (G) and Big Sugarloaf Peak (B) to the north
Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
Lake Mountain (L) to the northwest

The trail going down to the southeast of Miller Lake was much more of a plunge than how I’d come up, which made me glad to have done this loop counter-clockwise. There was one more view on the way down,

Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
Lake Mountain and Mount Elijah through an opening in the forest

and then I was back at Miller Lake.

Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
Miller Lake
Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
A spot of Fall color at Miller Lake

The walk down the road was uneventful, as was the hop back across the still icy creek. So, 10 miles round-trip, with 2,100 feet of elevation gain to the crest of the ridge. If you can ford the creek, this is a nice half-day outing to a lake and some good views. If you can’t (or won’t) then it’s just a longer, but still pretty good, hike.

Miller Lake Siskiyou Crest Sturgis Fork Oregon
My journey to and from Miller Lake

HOME


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.