First-time visitors to Medford and Eagle Point inevitably want to know the name of the cone-shaped mountain that dominates the skyline there so strikingly. It’s Mt. McLoughlin, a volcanic peak in the Cascade Range that rises to an elevation of 9,499 ft. It has a hiking trail leading to the summit, but for the less strenuously inclined there’s an enjoyable alternative, an easy drive of less than an hour to Willow Lake at its foot. En route is the delightful Butte Falls Waterfall, scarcely half a mile out of the way, that offers memorable views of multiple side-by-side cascades.
Willow Lake offers year-round cabins and day use amenities, and seasonal yurts and campsites. Amenities in the day use area include restrooms with showers, picnic tables and a swim beach. There is a $4 park entry fee.
If you want a closer look at the mountain, from Willow Lake it’s not much further to the Mt. McLoughlin Trailhead. The hike is considered difficult, but the consensus seems to be that it’s fairly easy until the final push to the top. The view from the summit is amazing — on a clear day you can see Crater Lake, Mt. Shasta, Lassen Peak and the Rogue Valley from the summit.
Eagle Point to Butte Falls – From Eagle Point take Hwy 62 north about 4 mi. to Butte Falls Road, turn right, and go about 15.5 mi. to the town of Butte Falls. Just as you enter town take the first left, Falls Road, for about .6 mi. to the parking area next to Butte Falls Waterfall.
Butte Falls to Willow Lake – Heading east from the town of Butte Falls, the road changes name to Butte Falls-Fish Lake Road. Follow it for 7.7 mi. to Willow Lake Road, bear right and continue 1.4 mi. to Willow Lake County Park.
Willow Lake to Mt. McLoughlin Trailhead – From Willow Lake head back up Willow Lake Road to Butte Falls-Fish Lake Road, turn right and go 10.8 mi to Hwy 140. Turn left onto it and go 3.9 mi. to FS (Forest Service) Rd. 3650, then turn left. It’s only another 2.8 mi. to the trailhead. Please note that FS Rd. 3650 is gravel, and a high clearance vehicle is recommended. Parking at the trailhead is $5/day. The trail is open from late June through the end of September.
Butte Falls – Rogue River National Forest, Butte Falls Ranger District, 541-865-2700
Willow Lake – Jackson County Parks, 541-774-8183
Mt. McLoughlin Trailhead – Fremont-Winema National Forest, Klamath Ranger District, 541-885-3400 | 541-883-6714