It All Started Here, And Here Lives On
Wood River Valley is the old west surrounded by mountains and it can be
a stopping point halfway between Harriman Springs and Crater Lake. In
the valley there are wonderful places to visit: Kimball Park, Wood River
Day Use Area and the Klamath Hatchery on Crooked Creek.
Fort Klamath is an unincorporated community of barely 200 people and
is one of the oldest settlements in Klamath County. Fort Klamath post
office was established January 6, 1879. In the summer, cattle are trucked
in and graze on rich pasture grass. The town is located about a mile
northwest of Fort Klamath, the Oregon Trail military outpost, which is
listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
GPs: 42°41′31″N, 121°58′20″W
Fort Klamath Museum
Located north of Klamath Falls on Hwy. 62. Fort Klamath was a frontier
military post established in 1863 at a time when the country was engaged
in a Civil War. Recruits were rallied from volunteers for service for
Frontier Protection and an enrollment office was established in
Jacksonville in late 1861. The territory they patrolled was huge as it
covered the Southern Route of the Oregon Trail known as The Applegate
Trail. Most were young fellows from the farms of Oregon who came
in singing this ditty: “I’m a raw recruit with a brand new suit.
One hundred dollars fourty, And I’ve just come down to Ashland town,
To fight for Jackson County.”
A replica of the Guard House exhibits artifacts found on the site,
photographs and is staffed by a knowledgeable docent who tells a
compelling story of events witnessed by those who lived there.
The famous prisoners taken during the Modoc Indian War were held
in the guard house during their trial and until the final days.
The site has the graves of the Modocs executed following the War.
Captain Jack, Black Jim, and Schonchin John. The Fort Klamath Jail
and Post Office are on the site. A worthwhile stop on your way
to Crater Lake. The grounds has a replica of the old fort Gazebo
if the weather is inclement and picnic tables. Check with the
Klamath County Museum for hours and days open…
The Fort Klamath Museum segment was written by Pat McMillian.
J. F. Kimball State Park is a pristine site located at the headwaters
of the Wood River. A walking trail connects the campground to the
site where the clear spring bubbles from a rocky hillside. The park
is a secluded place where you can contemplate the moment while relaxing
in the whispering lodgepole pines. Wood River flows from the pine forest
into open meadow land laced with picturesque quaking aspen surrounded
by the southern Cascade Mountains. Wood River offers fine fishing that
can be accessed from the park by canoe. Kimball Park offers primitive
camping next to a spring-fed lagoon at the beginning of this waterway.
GPS: 42°44′18″ N, 121°58′48″ W
The park is operated and maintained by the Oregon Parks and Recreation
Department, and is located approximately 20 miles southeast of Crater Lake
National Park and 3 miles north of Fort Klamath on Oregon Road 232, off of
Highway 62. The park was established in 1955, and covers 19 acres.
including the headwaters of the Wood River.
There is a popular horse trail that begins at Collier Memorial State
Park that leads through the forest to Kimball State Recreation Site.
Riders must make a round trip from Collier State Park since there are
no horse corrals at Kimball Recreation Site.
For Kimball Park birding information visit Klamath Birding Trails
Wood River Day Use Park
The Wood River Day Use Area, elevation 4200, is located along the
Wood River in the Upper Klamath Basin. The site offers a disabled
accessible trail system that winds through stands of aspens, extending
to meadow-shrub riparian areas and an overlook of the river.
A diversity of wildflowers blooms during the spring and summer.
In the fall, aspen, cottonwoods, and willow turn a brilliant yellow.
The Wood River Area offers three picnic sites, fully accessible trails,
fishing platforms and restrooms, but bring your own drinking water.
Picnicking, fishing and wildlife viewing are popular activities.
This is also one of the popular stops along the Klamath
Basin Birding trail.
There is no fee for use of the area and tables are available on
a first-come, first-served basis. The Wood River Day Use area is
located off Highway 62, Crater Lake Highway. approximately two miles
from Fort Klamath. GPS: 121° 58′ 54.12″ W, 42° 42′ 15.34″ N.
For Wood River Day Use birding information visit Klamath Birding Trails
Crooked Creek Fish Hatchery
Klamath Hatchery is located along Crooked Creek, a small meandering
stream with a well developed riparian area. This hatchery raises
rainbow, cutthroat, brook and brown trout. It provides legal-sized
trout to Klamath and Lake counties and fingerlings for lakes from
the southern Cascade Mountains east to the Idaho border. The current
production is approximately 1 million fish each year.
GPS: 42°36’30.5″ N , 121°56’34.09″ W
Visitors can also purchase fish food for 25 cents per small handful
and feed the trout in either the fish ponds or in Crooked Creek.
There is also a viewing area along Crooked Creek with a wooden deck
to peer into the waters and feed the trout that often come up to the
surface in hopes of swallowing a food pellet or two.
Some of these fish are native to the Creek and others are hatchery
escapees. Crooked creek is also used for spawning by fish from
Klamath and Agency Lakes during the winter and spring months.
Looking south at Crooked Creek and a Flooded Wood River Valley.
Crooked Creek starts from a dozen hillside springs that also supply
water for Klamath Hatchery. The springs run a nearly constant volume
and stay in the middle 40s F year-round. Crooked Creek is also used for
spawning by fish from Klamath and Agency Lakes during the winter and
spring months. This section of creek is closed to fishing to protect
watchable fish for this viewing area. The creek is open for
fishing downstream of the pasture fence during the trout season.
Birds to Look For: Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Wood Duck, several
warbler species and Mountain Bluebird are commonly seen
around the hatchery.
The Wood River meanders 18 miles through the Fremont-Winema National
Forests, Bureau of Land Management land, and private property in
southern Oregon before flowing into Agency Lake. Its watershed consists
of 220 square miles of conifer forest, rural pasture land, and marsh
with headwaters emanating from a large natural spring located in
Jackson F. Kimball State Recreation Site. The aquifer that feeds
the spring is believed to originate twenty miles to the northwest
in the east side drainage of Crater Lake National Park. The drainage
around its headwaters is forest county dominated by ponderosa pine
and lodgepole pine with some quaking aspen in meadow lands.
The Wood River’s largest tributary is Annie Creek which originates
inside the boundary of Crater Lake National Park, and is fed by
the park’s snowpack as well as groundwater from natural springs.
After leaving the park, Annie Creek passes through the Fremont-Winema
National Forests and then runs along the western border of Sun Pass
State Forest for about a mile. It then crosses private pastureland
and is joined by Sun Creek before joining the Wood River, about a
mile south of Kimball State Recreation Site. From there, the Wood
runs south through the Fremont-Winema National Forests and private
pasture land before Fort Creek joins the flow. Below Fort Creek,
the river flows through private pasture land and then opens into
a wide marsh. Much of the original marsh is now pasture land.
Water from the river is diverted into a system of canals to
irrigate grazing land in the surrounding valley. Finally,
Crooked Creek joins the Wood approximately one mile before it
empties into Agency Lake, which is connected to Upper Klamath Lake.
The Wood River habitat supports wild, self-sustaining populations
of brook, brown, Great Basin redband, and coastal rainbow trout.
These species are widely distributed throughout the river system
from the headwaters to Agency Lake. Bull trout are native to upper
Sun Creek inside Crater Lake National Park. Great Basin redband
trout and coastal rainbow trout are species, both rainbow trout
subspecies, native to the Klamath Basin.
For Wood River Valley birding information visit Klamath Birding Trails
The Wood River Was Changed By Man And Changed Again.
In September 1992, U.S. Congress appropriated funds for the
Bureau of Land Management to purchase 3,200 acres of natural
wetland along the north end of Agency Lake at the mouth of the
Wood River. This wetland area was converted to pasture land in
the 1950s and 1960s. The land purchase was completed in 1994.
Since acquiring the Wood River property, the Bureau of Land
Management has successfully restored the wetland area and
adjacent Wood River channel to a more natural state. The channel
restoration project was completed in 2001. The new channel
meanders through the marsh, increasing the length of the
Wood River by over one half mile. Overall, this project has
improved water quality and created better habitat for fish,
birds and wildlife.
Here are other locations near Harriman Springs Resort and Marina:
Behold the spectacular Crater Lake National Park
Take a moment to relax at Mare’s Eggs Springs
Enjoy the sights and sounds of Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge
For nature enthusiasts see Bird Habitats of the Region
Take a video tour of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges
©2014 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.