“A low-altitude work-out run to nice views and through wildflowers in the Spring.”
— Bruce Hope
Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The trail is open all year-round and is rarely, if ever, closed by snow.
The Viewpoint Mike Trail is an out-and-back trail to a rocky prominence overlooking Lost Creek Lake near Shady Grove, Oregon. It's primary attraction is as a pleasant run to views of the lake and the High Cascades. It's favored as a low-altitude (1,500 to 2,500 feet) work-out run when the high country is closed due to snow. It's best between March and May when the fields it traverses are full of beautiful wildflowers. It may be unpleasantly hot during the summer months.
Need to Know
Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. The trail is best used during wildflower season (March to May) but is fine during the fall and winter months too. It can be too hot in the summer months. Restrooms are available at Casey State Park.
To reach the trailhead, take Highway 62 east from Medford past Shady Cove and Casey State Park. Just upstream from Casey Park, turn right onto Crowfoot Road and drive about 0.25 miles to a large parking area on the right side of the road. There are no amenities at the trailhead.
The trail begins on the opposite side of Crowfoot Road from the parking area, switching back and forth across some mixed stands of white oak, madrone and buckbrush. After about a 0.5 miles, bear to the left at a fork in the trail where a barrier has been erected to close an old section of the trail.
After about 0.7 miles, the trail comes right up to the side of the road cut for Highway 62, and take in a view of the fish hatchery just below the dam impounding Lost Creek Lake. So people complain about the traffic noise from the highway but keep going and any noise will soon fade.
The oaks give way to conifers as the trail winds onto the north side of the ridge, where the sun is less intense. The firs give way to oaks again where the trail meets a gravel road (McNeil Creek Road). Turn left on the road and follow it briefly (about 0.1 mile) until you see a trail leaving the right side of the road.
Past the road, the trail soon enters a series of switchbacks that mark the last long climb toward the viewpoint. The trail crosses one final stretch of bare rock before the viewpoint, which is defined by a rock wall. From here you can see the lake and surrounding forest land. The big open pastures to the west are part of the old Obstinate J ranch.
History & Background
The trail to Viewpoint Mike was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when they built the dam that forms Lost Creek Lake. Rock to build the dam was taken from quarries just east of the viewpoint. One of these quarries played a small role in Operation Plowshare–the program established in 1958 to explore the technical and economic feasibility of using nuclear explosives for industrial applications. A non-nuclear, high-explosive blasting experiment in hard rock was conducted in 1972 at one of these quarries.