Walking Cottage Grove, Covered Bridges and Lakes

One of the reasons Mike wanted to go to Oregon was because he loves lakes – having spent his youthful summers in northern Wisconsin. Besides Lake Tahoe (a most magnificent lake), lakes are few in California – it’s mostly reservoirs.

Oregon has reservoirs too, but they’re full and look more real.

We started another day by going to Cottage Grove – about 20 miles from Eugene. Started that is after excellent coffee, ambiance and chit chat with the locals at Rally Coffee (everyone in Oregon was very nice to us Californians.)

Cottage Grove has a charming old town

Cottage Grove town Oregon

and an unusual covered bridge. Somehow we had missed them on previous Oregon trips. Today was devoted to bridges. This one is the Centennial Bridge built in 1987 to celebrate Cottage Grove’s 100th anniversary. It’s a walking bridge built from 2 other bridges. There used to be over 450 covered bridges in Oregon – now only 50. Through this bridge on the other side is a small park and another part of Cottage Grove.

Centennial Bridge Cottage Grove

Oh, the day before, returning from Waldo Lake we captured a few other bridges. Lowell Bridge built 1945 on a huge reservoir called Dexter Lake. Currently not in use, an earlier bridge existed in Lowell but was damaged.

Lowell Bridge 1945

And Unity Bridge (Unity, Oregon) on the Big Fall Creek built in 1936.

Unity Bridge, Oregon

And Pengra Bridge, currently closed. Delicate structures, those covered bridges. This one near Jasper, Oregon.

Pengra Bridge Jasper, Oregon

Cottage Grove Reservoir

Okay, meanwhile back to Cottage Grove. Or actually south to Cottage Grove Reservoir,  managed by the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers. We took London Weyerhauser Rd on the south side of the lake and came to Lakeside Park – with boat launch, swimming, picnic, flush toilets and cold water.

Dorena Lake Oregon

Besides the harvested hill again – it became quite apparent we were practically by ourselves and not in California. We always plan to go out early before the crowds and that sometimes doesn’t work. In Oregon, here’s a gorgeous huge spot with mountains and clear water and maybe 4 other people in the area.

We went up the other side of the 5-mile long lake on Cottage Grove Reservoir Rd.  Again lots of camping available at Wilson Creek and Pine Meadows with primitive camping in between. We stopped at Shortridge Park for lunch. This is across the lake from our first stop.

Dorena Lake Shortridge Park

A marker for Samuel Boone (yes, Daniel relative) Shortridge settled here in 1853. Not sure what it looked like then – the dam came later in the 1940s.

Dorena Lake Shortridge park

Beautiful clear water. Someone was fishing but caught no trout or bass.

Dorena Lake clear water

Dorena Lake

A slightly busier place is at Baker Bay, a Lane County Regional Park. Camping, swimming, boat launch, small raft rentals, and snacks available. Dorena Lake is also a reservoir on the Row River.

Baker Bay marina Dorena Lake

Across a bridge are a small stand of woods and large group picnic grounds.

Bridge at Baker Bay, Oregon

Also solo picnic spots and more vistas of Dorena Lake.

Baker Bay vista

Continuing around the lake, we took small detour off Shoreview Drive to see the Dorena Bridge built in 1949 across the Row River. It was bypassed in 1974, but now serves as a rest stop.

Dorena Covered Bridge

Stopping is worthwhile. Step inside a covered bridge for a new sense of peace.

Dorena Covered Bridge Oregon

We made a short side trip to the town of Dorena and then came back the other side of the lake. Always with an eye for paths I started to notice one along the road. Turns out it is part of a loop from Cottage Grove to Dorena and back again. Here’s a link to Ride Oregon website on the almost 33 mile Dorena Lake Loop. Signs indicated this is also a walking trail. Maybe a shorter section on a cooler day.

See you on the trail!

Words by Lynn Millar, pictures by Lynn and Mike Millar, available upon request

Next up? Rivers and parks in Eugene.












Published by Lynn Millar

Walker, reader, writer, traveller - see About Walking

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