10 minutes to paradise: Emigrant Lake

Camille Lendormy climbing rock
Camille Lendormy belays Sydney Boyar up a climbing route at Emigrant Lake’s poison oak wall. Photo by Jake Merrill/The Siskiyou

Jackson County is full of beautiful scenery, both man-made and natural. Man-made brings to mind architecture or sculpture, not the sparkling waters of Emigrant Lake, but the man-made “lake,” is in actually a reservoir and a hub for recreation in Jackson County.

A whole host of activities can be enjoyed at Emigrant Lake, such as RV sites, tent-camping sites, swimming, walking trails, boating, a waterslide and a popular rock climbing area.

The rock climbing at Emigrant Lake is a favorite amongst locals, boasting a variety of routes in a variety of difficulties. Enter the park, and follow the winding road past the waterslides and tent camping to the end of the RV camping loop. At the end of the RV loop a trail can be found, follow the trail to its end and there is the climbing area.

Known as the Poison Oak wall, this local resource makes up for its lack in height with its variety of skill levels and aesthetic beauty. Climbs are easily top rope accessible via a ridge along the top. For the more daring, most of the routes have bolts in the rock, allowing for lead climbers to ascend to their hearts content. It is common on sunny afternoons to find groups of locals out enjoying the climbing and the scenery.

The climbing at Emigrant Lake is not the only item to boast about on its resume. Vast varieties of flora and fauna can be observed on any given day. Cats ear flower, pacific madrone and oak trees shade the waters edge. A less friendly plant common to Emigrant is Poison Oak, which will cause itching and rashes when touched. Before you go out to enjoy the lake, make sure you know how to properly identify and avoid poison oak, or suffer the itchy consequences.

Animals can easily be viewed from walking trails and campgrounds, especially the wealth of bird species. Osprey, golden tanager and finches are among many others. Most exciting of all is the barn owl, which lives by the rock climbing wall, and can sometimes be seen flying in and out of his cliff side nest. Mining bees living in burrows, deer feeding in the evenings, and many other species can be viewed and enjoyed also.

Whether you come for a climbing thrill, or a swimming chill, Emigrant Lake has something for everyone.

Brandon Worthington climbing rock
Outdoor Adventure Leadership major Brandon Worthington pauses on a climbing route at Emigrant Lake's poison oak wall. Photo by Jake Merrill/The Siskiyou



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