Applegate Lake, Oregon, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Oregon - Southern -

Also known as:  Applegate Reservoir

Reflecting the peaks of the Siskiyou Mountains, Applegate Lake is surrounded by Rogue River National Forest in southwestern Oregon’s Jackson County. Long recognized as an angler’s paradise, the rivers, streams and lakes of Oregon’s Southern Tourism Region draw fishermen from around the world. Just 23 miles southwest of Medford, Applegate Lake runs an additional five miles south to the California border. Travel in any direction and you will find Applegate Lake surrounded by unspoiled nature, begging for exploration.

Applegate Lake is named for Lindsay and Jesse Applegate, who crossed the mouth of the Applegate River while carving the Southern Emigrant Trail of the 1840s. The haunting beauty of surrounding Collings Mountain, Kinney Mountain and Stein Butte hides a history of miners and gold seekers. Names of rivers, mountains, trails and campgrounds are pulled from the pages of Oregon’s history, when prospectors flocked to the west to find their fortune. Abandoned mine sites dating back to the 1850s can still be seen along Applegate Lake’s hiking trails.

Constructed to provide irrigation and flood protection, Applegate Dam was completed in 1980 by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Originating in California’s Siskiyou Mountains, the Applegate River flows northward, feeding Applegate Reservoir before meeting the Rogue River six miles west of Grants Pass. Flowing from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, Rogue River is one of eight original National Wild and Scenic Rivers. Known for its excellent salmon runs, whitewater rafting, and spectacular scenery, the Rogue River is a “must see” for visitors to Applegate Reservoir. With over 2,000 miles of rivers and streams found on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, fishing and recreational opportunities are within easy driving distance of Applegate Lake.

Applegate River fishing greatly improved with the construction of Applegate Dam. Applegate Lake’s cooler water, average depth of 85 feet, and maximum depth of 225 feet provide excellent conditions for catching rainbow trout, steelhead trout, chinook and coho salmon. Managed as a two-story fishery, warm-water species include smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie, sunfish and brown bullhead.

Applegate Lake is open to year-round fishing, but access varies with lake levels. While year-round boat ramps are available at multiple locations and campgrounds, some lie below water during full pool or far above water at minimum pool. Copper boat ramp, located near the northwestern end of Applegate Lake, and French Gulch, located at the northeastern end of the lake, provide low-water ramps. The Forest Service Hart-Tish Park, also found at the northeast end of Applegate Lake, includes a paved boat ramp as long as water levels are above 1928 feet. Additional park amenities include parking, a general store, fishing supplies, swimming beach, kayak rentals, dry-RV and tent camping, restrooms, and drinking water.

The 988-acre lake attracts far more than fishermen. Applegate Reservoir is home to an annual triathlon’s 3/4-mile lake swim, a 1500- and 5000-meter open-water swim for Masters swimmers, and beaches for those just learning to swim. With a speed limit of 10 miles per hour, calm waters make kayaking and canoeing a favorite water activity on Applegate Lake. Whether you choose to paddle across Applegate Reservoir for the exercise, or glide along the 18-mile shoreline, unblemished views will stretch from mountainside-to-mountainside.

With only 12,000 people residing in the 698-square-mile Applegate River watershed, much of the area remains pristine and undeveloped. Many campgrounds around Applegate Lake are hike-in, with trails instead of roads leading around the reservoir. Designated trails are accessible to motor cycles, mountain bikes, and riders on horseback. Each season brings new color to the scenic loops; overlooks provide views of Applegate Lake and wildlife viewing can include a stop at the Big Foot trap, built during the 1970s.

Rogue River National Forest is administratively merged with Siskiyou National Forest. The Siskiyou National Forest area covers over one million acres with a portion extending into northwestern California. The Forest Service states this National Forest the widest variety of landscapes, geology, plant communities and soils in the Pacific Northwest. Sharing southern boundaries with Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is Klamath National Forest. At nearly two million acres, Klamath National Forest provides access to trails, rivers, lakes, campgrounds and five wilderness areas in northern California. The scope of activities offered by these three national forest areas is only limited by a visitor’s time and abilities.

Picture a view from the Pacific Ocean to Crater Lake’s Mount Scott and you have a glimpse of the varied scenery and attractions surrounding Applegate Reservoir. East of Applegate Lake, Interstate 5 passes through Jackson County, conveniently located about midway between Portland and San Francisco. Communities located north of Applegate Reservoir provide endless entertainment: Medford hosts the Rogue Valley Balloon Rally, Ashland is a nationally recognized theater and arts center, and Grants Pass is known for its access to the Rogue River and Oregon Caves National Monument. Visitors could easily spend an entire summer here.

Vacation rentals and real estate properties lie among the hills and communities surrounding Applegate Lake. Whether you end your day in the solitude of a cabin or a condominium in the city, select your accommodation and extend your visit. Select among day trips to the Oregon Coast, Crater Lake National Park, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival or regional wineries. Fish the steelhead of the Rogue River, paraglide over the Siskiyous or simply watch the light dance on the surface of Applegate Reservoir. Find your home away from home and explore Oregon.

Things to do at Applegate Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • National Park
  • National Forest

Fish species found at Applegate Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Brown Bullhead
  • Chinook Salmon
  • Coho Salmon
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Steelhead Trout
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Applegate Lake Photo Gallery

Applegate Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 988 acres

Shoreline Length: 18 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,953 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,854 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,987 feet

Average Depth: 85 feet

Maximum Depth: 225 feet

Water Volume: 76,164 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1980

Drainage Area: 223 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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