• Applegate Lake is a scenic oasis of Southern Oregon extended to the California border
• The lake is fantastic for swimming, fishing, hiking, and boating opportunities
Applegate Lake, or Applegate Reservoir, is an artificial 988-acre lake in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest 22 miles southwest of the historic city of Jacksonville and 28 miles of Medford near the Oregon-California border.
This scenic place has plenty of outdoor adventures in beautiful southern Oregon nature. The lake is fantastic for swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and other water activities. At the same time, the surrounding area is a paradise for camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, and just getting away from your daily routine.
The lake was created in 1980 when the Army Corps of Engineers constructed an Applegate Dam impounding the Applegate River. It stands 242 feet tall and 1,300 feet long and controls flooding, stores water for irrigation, and provides plenty of space for recreational activities.
The dam, reservoir, and river were named after the setter Lindsay Applegate. In 1848 he journeyed through the Rogue River Valley, leading a group of settlers to California's mines.
When the reservoir became filled with water, it covered the remains of Copper, a town that used to have its own post office and a few structures. Since the water level in the lake was decreasing, the highway that previously ended in the town became visible again at the southern part of the lake and functions as the lower end of a Copper Boat Ramp.
Interestingly, workers found well over 5,000 ounces of gold in the river during the last two years of construction. The treasure was split between construction firms working on the project and the government.
Things To Do
Swimming and Water Activities
Applegate Lake is an excellent place for swimming and other water activities. Seattle Bar, Manzanita Lake Access Day Use Area, Hart-tish Park, Carberry Swimming Area, and other spots are great to swim at and launch kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards.
Hiking, Biking, and Horseback Riding
Applegate Reservoir and the surrounding area have many trails for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. Especially the east side of the lake, full of various interconnected trails.
There is a total of 18 miles of shoreline hiking trails. Trail bikes are permitted only on 1 trail leading to Stein Butte. Horses are permitted on 3 trails, including the Stein Butte, Collings Mountain, and Da-Ku-Be-Te-De.
The lake is open to motorized and non-motorized boats, with a 10 mph speed limit. With 18.5 miles of shore and 988 acres of surface area, there is plenty of space for everyone.
There are 3 ramps total at the lake. Hart-Tish Park and The French Gulch at the northern and Copper Ramp at the southern part of the lake.
Boat ramps may not be usable if the water level is very low.
Applegate Lake is a fantastic location for both bank and boat fishing, with an average depth of 83 feet and a maximum depth of 225 feet.
All forms of fishing are allowed. Bank fishing is excellent from all 6 campgrounds, day-use areas, hiking trails, and roads around the lake.
You can reach deeper water from some bank areas like Hart-tish Campground. Boat fishing is even more productive, giving you access to the deepest areas.
ODFW stocks 120,000 rainbow trout and 50,000 chinook salmon annually at the reservoir. Applegate Lake is also home to largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and crappie.
Trout fishing is the most productive during spring, with winter holdover and newly stocked fish.
You can find landlocked chinook in deeper water, which is included in the daily trout limit. The deepest waters near the dam and the middle of the lakes are the best areas for that fish.
Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and crappie fishing are best caught during summer in the shallower areas at the four arms of the lake.
Applegate Lake Day-Use Areas
Applegate Dam, Da-Ku-Be-Te-De - Swayne Viewpoint, and Trailhead
Da-Ku-Be-Te-De Trail is a moderate 8.5-mile loop hike taking you along the Applegate Lake northern bank all the way down to Watkins Campground.
Hart-tish Park and Day-Use Area
Hart-Tish Park is a fantastic place for camping and picnicking, with access to the lake and hiking trails. Hart-Tish Park is a perfect base camp to explore the lake and the surrounding area. It is a fantastic place for swimming, boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, and just getting away from the city.
Collings Mountain Trailhead starts at the park, named after two brothers who mined in the area in the 1850s and 60s. Da-ku-be-te-de Trail and Grouse Loop Trail are located nearby as well.
Carberry Swimming Area
This is a serene swimming spot with a sandy beach and big rocks on the edge of the Applegate Reservoir. This spot is fantastic for many water activities including swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, and fishing. At the same time, the surrounding area is a paradise for swimming, fishing, hiking, biking, picnicking, and just escaping from your daily routine.
Here, you can see forested hills, beautiful rocky formations, and a bridge. Carberry Creek cascades into the lake, creating a small waterfall.
Copper Boat Ramp is a free paved ramp without other facilities.
Kermit Viewpoint is one of the best lake viewing spots. There are no facilities here.
Manzanita Lake Access Day Use Area provides convenient lake access without facilities.
Seattle Bar is a day-use area with picnic tables, BBQ pits, and a swimming area.
Camping and Lodging
There are 6 campgrounds around the lake, including primitive tent sites and RV spots. You can camp at
- Hart-tish Park with 7 tent sites and 8 lakeside RV spots
- Carberry Creek Campground sits near Carberry Swim Area and has 10 tent sites, vault toilets, and drinking water
- Watkins Campground has 14 campsites, vault toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings
- The French Gulch has a gravel ramp, two campsites, vault toilets, and a trail parking area
- Harr Point Campground has five campsites but no other facilities
- Tipsu Tyee Campground has five campsites, vault toilets, and picnic tables
Reservations can be done online through Recreation.gov
Applegate Lake | Facts
Managed by: US Forest Service
Amenities: Restrooms, picnic sites, campsites, drinking water, boat ramps
Activities: Boating, fishing, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, camping, horseback riding, hiking, and nature viewing
Distance from the parking: Short
Road access: Any passenger vehicle
Day-use fees: Yes at some areas or Interagency Senior/Access/Military Pass
Elevation: 1,900 ft (579 m)
Applegate Lake is located:
- 28 miles southwest of Medford
- 40 miles southwest of Ashland
- 110 miles southeast of Roseburg.
Directions to Applegate Lake
- Take OR-238 West
- Turn right onto OR-238 West/E California Street and follow it for 7.8 miles
- Turn left onto Upper Applegate Road and follow it for 14.9 miles.