The Willamette Valley is a place that finds itself with rapidly changing seasons, particularly during the spring – now. Not wanting to focus exclusively on the easiest places – restaurants and trying to remember that folks will want to get out of their houses and see different things I talked myself into driving visiting a place that has some special meaning to me. Hagg Lake – I knew someone who used to live in the town that was flooded to make the reservoir that became Hagg Lake – the settlement of Scoggins Valley – many of the residents who used to live there still harbor some resentments toward the state/government for forcing them to relocate – which is understandable. Hagg Lake is located about xx miles south of Forest Grove. If you are planning on driving the route and not stopping at all the route is free, however if you plan on stopping at all there is a $6 parking fee that must be paid – the penalty for not doing so is a ticket or towing charge.
The road to the pay area is a bit of a drive off Highway 47, and after paying the entrance fee one of the first things I noticed was a choice of either turning left to go around the lake clockwise, or as I decided to go counter clockwise. When I continued straight, I noticed a turn off to the park ranger offices and an overlook. There were some services (water for humans and pets, porte-potties, and a nice trail) and a nice sign commemorating the construction of the Scoggins Dam – 1975.
Driving around the lake I can’s help but be pleased by the lovely trees and great condition of the road. Fortunately the time I was here was a beautiful sunny day the beauty of the Willamette Valley can easily be appreciated on this drive.
There are quite a few trails along the route and they are all very clearly marked. Most of the trails have large parking areas and the terrain doesn’t seem to terribly steep either. The trails are hard packed dirt and are family and pet friendly, though you probably should keep those pets on a leash, even though this is a place frequented by people the folks I know who live around the lake have told me stories about seeing coyotes and bobcats frequently. So be sure to keep the kids and pets close and within eyesight.
There are also large parking areas where cars can park and just walk around the lake – not necessarily along any trails, but just sit int he grass and enjoy the day. The environment feels natural and unspoiled, though with the large number of available parking spots one can imaging the areas being congested if the parking lots get full. From this parking area I could also see a small gazebo out on the water connected to the land by a long wharf. I got a nice picture but also found myself wanting to take a much closer look.
I arrived at the next spot and was amazed by the amount of parking. There was also a giant boat ramp that boats could use to get their boats in and out of the water. It turns out that Pacific University has a rowing team that houses their equipment at Hagg Lake in this particular spot – which was called C-Ramp. There was a small place to buy supplies/food and quite a few wooden picnic tables with nearby barbecue setups. I did manage to find the gazebo and was doubly surprised to realize once I got there that it was a a nesting spot for a population of birds. I’m still not sure of the variety and even though they didn’t seem to like me being there to begin with, they seemed to get used to me pretty quickly. The view off the gazebo was very pretty especially on this sunny beautiful day. As I was leaving I noticed a plaque dedicated to Kenneth I Williams in 2002. The words were quite moving and I encourage anyone who visits Hagg Lake to take a moment to visit this gazebo and maybe take a moment to fish and think about Kenneth and appreciate his efforts to help all of us be able to enjoy Hagg Lake and it’s beauty.
Overall I give the Hagg Lake drive and different opportunities there wholeheartedly 5 Hey Willamette. The drive itself is beautiful and if you’re just going to drive (or ride your motorcycle!!!) its a great way to unwind for the low cost of $0. However, if you spend only $6 you can park and enjoy all of the trails, and other features, of which there are many of this beautiful reservoir just south of Forest Grove along Highway 47.