Sunday, June 21, 2009

Olallie Lake

I wanted to offer a heads-up about the Olallie Lake Campground, but I didn’t feel as though I could give it a proper “review.” Instead, it gets its own unique entry. The campground was closed all of summer 2008 and 2009 due to receiving over 30 feet of snow the previous winter. This precipitation damaged the historical building that houses the general store and generally made a mess of some of the trees and plant life surrounding the sites. Despite this, many people still camped and simply wound up paying no fees. Olallie Lake will hopefully be formally reopening August 2010.
In general, Olallie Lake is one of the more scenic areas I’ve visited. Bald eagles routinely perched atop snags looking to grab their next meal out of the lake, trees grew right to the edge of the lake, and mankind’s influence generally did not extend very far. A few hillsides worth of trees were dead due to fire and pine beetles, but otherwise the area was simply gorgeous.
I must admit, ashamed, that Olallie Lake did end up defeating me. This was the first time I retreated from a camping trip due to discomfort – and it was my birthday weekend! The lake seems to generate its own unique weather. It was drizzly, gray, and windy for the trip. At one point, I looked up to see the clouds moving the opposite way as the wind hitting me. Despite having a tent with a fly all the way to the ground, being a relatively hearty camper, and going during the month of August, after one night, it was just too cold to stay. Others assure me its been pleasant for their trips, but it seems like the weather is a bit of a gamble. Every other person I have spoken with loves Olallie.

The drive in to Olallie Lake is long – at least four miles on a rough gravel road. Granted, any vehicle with normal clearance can make the trip, but be ready for a slow, bumpy ride that will make you wonder if you missed your turn. There is also no drinking water provided here, so be prepared to haul or purify your own. It’s important to be aware there has been snow as late as July.

For years, the campground was run by a private family who kept a portion of the site fees. Apparently, having a historical building that needed repair was holding up the reopening of the lake and causing headaches for those involved. Dan and Katie, the new owners of Olallie Lake Resort, were kind enough to drop by and leave a comment. They hope to open by August of this year! Woo hoo! Thanks for the update! I'd encourage you to visit their website for all the latest.

If you’re willing to go out of your way for a gorgeous trips, visit Olallie Lake. However, be prepared for anything! And, if it comes down to it, you can always retreat back to the plethora of sites along the Clackamas River. Safety first!


Gregg said...

It's nice to see someone take an interest in Olallie. I have made a day-trip once a week for the last three (and going next as well). The "New Mngmnt" folks were there last Thursday putting the boats out and such. No store this year, tis the year of repairs. Forest Service lady I spoke to said personnel will be in place possibly by next weekend for fees for Paul Dennis (unk the others). Fishing has been absolutely great.

Terri said...

I was there Thursday & Friday, this was my third visit and love Olallie, but this visit the mosquitoes and flys drove us to cut our camping trip short.

Darrin said...

Hi Meagan, Terri and Gregg,

Thank you for your posts on Ollalie! Ive always taken my kids up there for an annual trip, but after hearing they had closed last year I wasnt sure what the status of the lake is for 2009.

Reading your posts, it sounds like the lake is open...but the store, cabin and yurts arent... is that correct? If so, what official campgrounds are there which allow tent camping through the Mt Hood National Forest or ?? We've always used the yurts there... which campground(s) would you recommend? And do any of them allow for online reservations?

One last question... for the trout fishing, do they allow bait (e.g. worms, eggs etc), or is this another flies or lures only setup?

Thanks guys for your insight :)

Darrin & Kids

Megan Farnsworth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan Farnsworth said...

Hi Darrin!

Here's what I've been able to find out so far, but I'm still researching! The Olallie Resort proper is still closed. However, the Forest Service started collecting fees at the end of July for those folks staying in the campgrounds.

They've found new permit holders, so they're hoping they'll be able to open Olallie fully by next summer. As far as nearby campgrounds, Paul Dennis is the closest and offers yurts currently. However, it appears as though it does not take reservations. I got that information from this website:

I'll continue looking into this and let you know what I find out about close campsites that takes reservations as well as the restrictions on fishing in Olallie Lake.

Megan Farnsworth said...

Sigh. There's a .htm at the end of that web address, I can't get it to appear.

Darrin said...

Hi Megan

Awesome glad to hear they will hopefully have the resort open again next summer! I'll drive up this weekend with the kids to check out the campgrounds and do some fishing :)

Thank you for your ongoing research... wishing you fun & safe travels!

Darrin & Kids

Megan Farnsworth said...

My apologies! This comes a bit late, but at long-last I found my notes. In the Central Zone where Olallie Lake is located, anything that is legal to fish for trout with is okay - it's only streams that are currently restricted to flies and lures.

I'm not sure that any sites around there take locations, but here are the nearby campgrounds: Olallie Meadows, Paul Dennis, Peninsula, Triangle Lake, Camp Ten, Lower Lake, and Equestrian Camp.

By this time, it sounds like you made the journey up. How was it?

Chris said...

Does anyone know for 2010 is the store open.

Megan Farnsworth said...

I've sent an email to the gentleman at the Forest Service who customarily updates me on Olallie Lake. I'll post as soon as I get a response. I'd guess with all the budget woes, chances are not great, but we shall see!

Olallie Lake Resort said...

Hello I am the new owner of Olallie Lake Resort and permit holder for operating the campgrounds in the scenic area we are currently upgradeing the facilities at the resort and the campgrounds, we hope to be fully operational by August 2010 please see the website for more information.

Megan Farnsworth said...

Hi Dan and Katie!
Thank you so much for stopping by! As you can see, the majority of traffic to my blog centers around Olallie Lake information-seekers. I've updated my post to reflect the latest information and provided some much-needed links to your site. If I'm feeling brave, I'll see you soon in a tent, or perhaps I'll foresake my roots and try out a cabin!

K said...

It's a bummer to hear about the damage to the store. I hope it can be recovered to the way it was. Camping at Olallie Lake was a family tradition for my four daughters, from about 1997-2007. My older two are grown, but the younger two are asking to go again this summer. I knew the old owners wanted to sell, it sounds like they did and things changed. We used to reserve a tent spot at Paul Dennis every August. (The fishing is better in July but the mosquitos seem less abundant by August.) I'm sad to see we can't reserve a spot this summer. I'm not sure we'd risk coming out and not finding a spot. I'll probably go with another campground that takes reservations. We've camped at some of the others around Olallie, but they don't have the same appeal. (and mosquitos seemed worse) The kids loved walking to the store to get ice cream, and walking to Head Lake to swim. They'd pick wild huckleberries for huckleberry pancakes in the morning, and catch trout for dinner of course. I'm not sure what to do now. Maybe we'll drive out one day in late June to check it out. Family traditions are hard to break. It's always sad to see things change.

dandtphillips said...

I grew up camping at Olallie every summer. My family (brothers, sister, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) all camped for many years before I was ever born in 1957. One year my brother and cousins were swimming (not allowed then, don't know about now) the ranger stopped and asked us to fill his bucket! LOL I remember us kids taking the rowboat out and playing in the lake by ourselves (no lifejackets!) I really want to go back to visit, but I know there will still be snow the end of March. Oh well! The memories!!

K said...

We did make it up in August of 2010, just after it reopened following nearby forest fires. We had the entire Paul Dennis campground to ourselves. While it was nostalgic to go back, the changes were heartbreaking for me and my youngest two kids (now 17 and 13). The first thing we noticed driving in was that MOST of the trees in the campground have been cut down, drastically changing the look and feel. My girls gasped in horror when they saw it. The store is nothing like the cozy happy place we used to go to buy bait and ice cream bars on the hot days. It was a bare-bones empty room, and basically abandoned. No ice cream anymore. I'm sure new families will have fun there on some level, but we can't bear to go back and see many of our favorite parts of Olallie Lake Resort are gone. The peace and quiet of the lake, and the beauty of the mountain are timeless, but I just don't feel a personal connection to Olallie anymore.

Lee Manning said...

As a very young child in the 70s, Ollalie was the only place I knew I'd get uninterrupted 1-on-1 time with my father each summer. The memories and connection I feel when thinking of this magical place are indescribable.
The trips I made with my father meant HOURS of gravel road- not a few miles. Roads were "improved" a long time ago, but there's nothing redeeming about that change. It's also sad to read the comment just before mine- here's to hope that the new owners either have continued to work on or finished some finishing touches that at least keep the store much as it used to be. I suppose the only thing that will replace missing trees in the camping area is time.
As of last week, the media was reporting forest fires in or around the Ollalie area. That cannot possibly help new owners in what has probably been a lot of hard work & waiting.
As someone else said: "ahh... the memories.".

Cindy Mcelroy said...

Im hopeing to Eventually take my family went every year during the 80s and 90s....i remember Hiking over from horseshoe Lake to get icecream at the tiny store...., and I clearly remember fishing with some old would hike to mt jeffersons ridge and have family photos in the Snow.....sooooo many stories i could tell!!!!

Melissa Yoast said...

Just stumbled upon this blog. We went to Olallie in June of this year. It was absolutely beautiful. We backed our camper into our spot, which had essentially our own little access to the lake. Imagine waking up and looking out your back window to large trees, a glass smooth lake, and beautiful skies. Our first evening we were lucky enough to have clear skies and see the Milky Way galaxy. My 6 year old fished a good part of the time. She never caught anything, but it was so memorable for her as she watched a bald eagle swoop down and snag fish 5 or so times. This trip was so breathtaking and we are going again later this month. The ride is certainly very bumpy and a little wobbly with a high clearance vehicle that is top heavy. I was surprised to see so many people make the trek. There were lots of spots available, but still a considerable amount of people there. I highly recommend this place. It has taken a place in mine and my family's hearts and replaced our regular camping getaway. Maintenance was improving the roads and replacing culverts as we arrived, so we did a bit of waiting (wading) around by the boat launch and had a great lunch there prior to snagging a camp site. The space between camp sites is also really great. Really, everything about this place - you could tell they are doing so much work to improve it for campers. I love Olallie!