Latgawa Creek, renamed from Dead Indian Creek, Swimming Holes, Medford hiking and biking, outdoor adventure, things to do,


In the late 1800s, when the Oregon Territory was still in its infancy, pioneer John Tyrell tracked a wounded elk up a remote canyon near Lakecreek. He discovered something unexpected that day; a rich mineral spring bubbling from the ground. A small resort developed at the mouth of Latgawa Canyon in the years that followed, taking advantage of the spring’s therapeutic benefits. The owners built a carriage road to the spring where they constructed stone bathing pools and a bridge across Latgawa Creek. The developed area around the spring washed away in the 67’ flood but the resort still stands today, the structures repurposed into Camp Latgawa. You can stroll the remains of the old carriage road along scenic Latgawa Creek, see the mineral springs in all their colorful glory, and explore a hidden canyon waterfall that you can only reach when the water is low.

The hike begins at a small cul-de-sac past the entrance of Camp Latgawa. A pavilion adjacent to the trailhead marks the spot. It quickly crosses the creek over a small wooden bridge to join the old Carriage Road that runs the center of the canyon. You’ll climb up above the creek and walk along it for the rest of the hike through a stellar example of Southern Oregon old growth forest. Look to the left about a half mile in and you’ll see terraces formed by the minerals in the soda spring! The water bubbles from the hillside into a little stream filled with a distinct orange hue. It may look tempting, but if you’d like to try the water you’d be better (and safer) off drinking from the fountains at Lithia Park in Ashland

Past the mineral spring the trail abruptly stops at a bench next to the creek. If you look to the other side, an informational sign marks the only remnants of the old stone pools and recounts a history of the trail. Now, if the water is low enough (mid-summer to early winter) you can cross the creek to explore the ruins or continue past the bench where the trail picks back up across on the other bank. A short hike brings you to an enclosed waterfall glen. The canyon forms a natural pool beneath it that just begs to be swum in on a hot summer day. Exercise caution when scrambling over wet rocks - they are slippery! An evacuation stretcher (in the unlikely chance you’ll need it) rests against a tree next to the swimming hole.

Latgawa Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Average Distance: 2 miles round trip

Parking: Free, follow to the trailhead

Restrooms: None, plan accordingly

Optimal Season: June - November. In early summer, the water may be too high to reach the waterfall / swimming hole

The Latgawa Creek trail features an easy climb along Latgawa Creek through a primal forest of old growth Madrone, Ponderosa, and Douglas Fir. Along the trail you’ll find mineral springs, as well as remnants of an old resort.

From Medford, take Crater Lake HWY 62 east from Medford to Lake of the Woods Hwy. Take a slight right turn towards the town of Lakecreek and pass through their downtown area. Follow the sign for Camp Latgawa in 12 miles until the road ends. Cross a bridge to the entrance of the camp, hang right to go past it and the trail head is in the Cul-de-sac right ahead.

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