In 2002, the Fremont National Forest and the Winema National Forest, both in southern Oregon, were merged into one larger national forest, the 2.3 million-acre Fremont-Winema National Forest. This forest hosts a large number of flora and fauna including threatened and endangered species such as the Canada lynx, bald eagles, and Oregon spotted frog. You can also find sought after culinary delights like matsutake mushrooms, which can be harvested in the fall and early winter. Fishermen will enjoy the opportunity to fish in several different types of environment, including fast-moving streams and rivers and both cold and warm water lakes. There are several varieties of trout in both the streams and lakes, including the threatened bull trout, as well as largemouthed bass, kokanee salmon, and catfish. If you like to camp with your horse, this is a must-see destination. Many hiking and biking trails can be utilized by horse and rider as well, and there are multiple campsites with helpful amenities for your equine companion, including hitching posts, stables, and corrals. Although we have only highlighted three of the campgrounds in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, there are actually dozens of campgrounds of varying sizes located in this large forest.
The main roads in the Fremont-Winema National Forest are well-maintained, paved roads that travel through towering mountains and dense forests, occasionally passing waterlily filled ponds and several small communities. The shoulders of these roads are generally flat and fairly wide, making it easy for drivers to pull off the road if they need to. This is a mountainous area, so there are several fairly wide curves along the roads, but they tend to be fairly easy to navigate, even in a big rig or towing a trailer or a boat. Many of the smaller roads in the campgrounds are either dirt or gravel roads with relatively few ruts or divots to cause difficulty when driving. Most of the larger campgrounds are easy to navigate, but some of the smaller sites may present a challenge when driving a larger vehicle. Be cautious of wildlife when driving in this area, particularly in the forested and mountainous areas and during the hours around dusk and dawn, when animals like mule deer and elk are most active.
Aspen Point Campground is also situated about 30 miles southwest of Klamath Falls, OR, right on the banks of the Lake of the Woods. It has 50 campsites that are considered appropriate for RVs or trailers that are available for reservations up to six months in advance. The campsites are well-maintained and spacious, but are primitive, without hookups for electricity, water, or sewer. Generators are typically allowed within 100 feet of a gravel or paved road, between the hours of noon and 7 PM, but check signs to ensure that there aren’t any temporary restrictions. Each site has campfire rings with hibachi-style grills and a picnic table. There are several faucets with potable water scattered throughout the campgrounds, as well as bathrooms with flush toilets. The nearby lake, Lake of the Woods, also has a boat dock and a beach. Pets are allowed at the campgrounds and on most trails in the Fremont-Winema National Forest but are required to be restrained by a six-foot or shorter lead.
Sunset Campground is located in the western portion of the national forest, near the Lake of the Woods Resort. The nearest town is Klamath Falls, OR, approximately 30 miles southeast of the campgrounds, although many amenities can be found at the nearby resort. It is comprised of 64 campsites suitable for RVs or trailers. While these sites do not provide electrical, water, or sewer hookups, they are roomy and well-maintained. Sites do come equipped with fire pits, grills, and picnic tables. Generators are usually allowed within 100 feet of a gravel or paved road, between the hours of noon and 7 PM, but check signs to ensure that there aren’t any temporary restrictions. There are several faucets with potable water scattered throughout the campground, as well as four restrooms with flush toilets. This campground is typically open from May to October.
Silver Creek Marsh Campground is just a little over ten miles southwest of the tiny community of Silver Lake, OR, right along the shoreline of Silver Creek, a popular fishing destination. There are 15 campsites here that are comfortable for an RV or a trailer which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Although the sites are rustic, without electrical, water, or sewer hookups, they do come equipped with fire rings and picnic tables. Generators can be used within 100 feet of a gravel or paved road, between the hours of noon and 7 PM. Check signs to ensure that there aren’t any temporary restrictions. A pump in the campgrounds provides potable water and there are two vault toilets. This campground is set up to cater to campers with horses as well. There are large corrals on the premises that contain six stalls and can accommodate 10-12 horses, as well as five hitching rails. Other pets are allowed at the campgrounds and on most trails in the Fremont-Winema National Forest but are required to be restrained by a six-foot or shorter lead.
Anglers will want to check and ensure that their rod and reel are in their trailers before heading out the Fremont-Winema National Forest. High-elevation lakes, like Campbell Lake and Deadhorse Lake and Cottonwood Meadows Lake, are frequently stocked with rainbow trout and have natural populations of brook trout as well. Heart Lake contains trout, kokanee salmon, and bullhead catfish. Warmer lakes sometimes have populations of large-mouthed bass and other warm-water fish. The streams and rivers that criss-cross the forest also have abundant populations of several species of trout including the threatened bull trout.
RV visitors who enjoy birdwatching will want to be sure to bring their birding kits along in their campervans. This forest is framed by two major migratory bird flyways, and there are a great variety of birds that can be found here. Loons, sandpipers, swans, and pelicans can often be found in and around the lakes of the Fremont-Winema National Forest ,while flycatchers, jays, thrushes and starlings are abundant in the trees. There are also several types of raptor, including prairie and peregrine falcons, American kestrels, and the occasional bald or golden eagle.
There are a number of wonderful trails for all skill levels that meander through this verdant and abundant forest. Novice hikers can explore the area by taking easier trails, such as the 6.5-mile Lake of the Woods Trail, which hugs the coast of the Lake of the Woods, or the 4.1 mile Squaw Trail that runs between Fourmile Lake and Squaw Lake. Hikers who prefer a challenge may enjoy the Mount McLoughlin Trail, a 9.5-mile trail with beautiful views and a 3,740-foot elevation change. Whichever type of hiking you prefer, be sure to pack the bug spray in the RV as there is an extremely healthy population of mosquitoes in this forest.
Fremont-Winema National Forest has four separate wilderness areas within the forest itself, which combined provide a home to over 300 species of wild animals. Elk, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope are commonly seen making their way through the trees, and there are a plethora of smaller animals such as raccoons, squirrels, and voles. Predators that roam the forest may include black bears, bobcats, mountain lions. If you are lucky and patient you may catch a glimpse of one of the endangered or threatened animals who live here, such as Canada Lynx or the Oregon spotted frog.
Your horse and trailer will be comfortable in this huge National Forest. Several of the hiking trails in the Fremont-Winema National Forest also make great horseback riding trails. The Mount McLoughlin Trail and the Mountain Lakes Trails are both quite popular with horseback riders, and those who are looking for a more lengthy adventure can attempt to ride the 62 mile Oregon Desert Trail. Several of the campgrounds in the forest, including the Silver Creek Marsh Campground and the Fourmile Lake Campground, have amenities designed with horses in mind.
Matsutake Mushrooms, a type of mushroom highly prized for their distinct spicy-aromatic odor, can be found in several areas of the forest. Campers can harvest these mushrooms in the fall months, usually between September and November. A free-use permit is needed to harvest these mushrooms for personal use, and a commercial permit is required for any of these mushrooms that will be made available for resale, both of which can be acquired at the ranger’s stations, along with a harvest area map.