Last weekend I had the opportunity to take the Boy Scout troop out for a weekend of camping at Orr Lake. The lake is on the northeast side of Mount Shasta and, for my money, one of the nicest places to camp in the area. Though the environs are a mix of high desert and ponderosa forest, the area around the lake is surprisingly lush. In addition to large meadows and and the meandering flow of Butte Creek, Orr Lake itself is an oasis amidst the sage and juniper that surround it. Large ponderosa also grow amidst the volcanic rocks that crop up on the slopes of Orr Mountain and the ridge that rises above the west side of the lake. Above all of this rises the awesome, icy tower of Mount Shasta’s Hotlum Cone, the massive eruption cone that composes the mountain’s entire east side (and summit). It is a beautiful place with an awesome view and perfect for taking a bunch of boys on a spring camp out.
Of course, I had to take the opportunity to capture sunrises and sunsets, given that I am not out there too often during that time of day. The results were quite pleasing.
From our campsite, we could look out across the lake at Haight Mountain (left) and West Haight Mountain (right). They were good gauges for where the sun was and when it was time to head over to the east side of the lake where the view of Mount Shasta was a little better.
With Mount Shasta in view, and augmented with a nice band of cloud, the sunset was sublime. Just enough color was visible on Shastina and the Bolam Glacier that the shadow on the east side did not diminish the incredible beauty of the sunset. I always associate Orr Lake with sunrises but this sunset made me rethink that as the best time to view the mountain from this position!
In the morning I headed back to the east side and caught the mountain in all of its sunrise glory. The birds (which are ubiquitous at Orr Lake) were already up and active and were cacophonous. There was just enough wind to keep the reflection getting too clear but the bright color of the sunrise still looked great against the water.
A wispy layer of fog swept over the water, dramatically waving across the lake’s surface. It added a ghostly quality to the reflection that really embellished the spectacle.
The weekend was filled with a ton of fishing, as well as groups hiking to the summit of Orr Mountain as well as out to Butte Creek in the vast meadow south of the lake. Bird watching, especially of a pair of bald eagles occupying a nest near the lake, was also a welcome activity throughout the weekend. Plenty of other camp hijinks were afoot and a great time was had by all.
The red line is existing trail. Yellow lines are proposed routes.
Time spent camping at Orr Lake over the weekend set me to thinking about the recreational opportunities at the site. It is a place that is generally off the radar, as are most places in the Klamath National Forest’s Goosenest Ranger District. There is one trail, which leads from the group camp out toward Butte Creek. While cross country travel and road hiking are pretty easy, given the excellence of the location and quality of the campgrounds, I think the area could benefit from a few more trails. In particular, a route up the ridge on the west side of the lake, forming a loop with the Butte Creek trail would be fantastic. A well-graded trail up to the summit of Orr Mountain would also be a great addition to the area. Between those hikes, exploring the meadow and fishing or kayaking the lake, I think Orr Lake would be a first rate destination. As it is, it is already fantastic.