Camping in the Lost Valley Reservoir

Written by guest blogger Carol Green.

When I was a child, camping meant packing up the gear and driving towards the mountains until we found a secluded spot beside a creek or stream, pulling off the road, setting up camp, and spending the weekend fishing, wading, or lazing around the campfire. There was no need to make a reservation or recite the license plate number of your SUV before pitching your tent.   We yearned to be lulled to sleep by the babbling of a brook and wakened by chirping birds as the sun slowly warms the mountain air.

A semi-primitive camping experience can still be had if you know where to look. Lost Valley Reservoir in Adams County is one such spot. It is accessible by auto. Small cars can easily negotiate the dirt road leading to the reservoir. Throw in a tent, some outdoor cooking gear, and trash bags to pack out what you’ve packed in. You can even tow a boat or haul along a four-wheeler to explore the forest service roads in the area.

“Semi-primitive” means there are some outhouses available and limited cell phone signals. If you venture farther from the “improvements,” grassy open areas along the bank offer a quieter camping experience. The reservoir is small and shallow with a gradual sloping bank allowing for safe wading and polliwog or frog catching! Boats can be conveniently anchored near your campsite.

Forest service roads offer safe hiking trails. Wildflowers abound as you ascend the mountain slopes to the south. I once found a wild orchid growing along the edge of one of those dusty roads.

Visit in late July or early August and the trained eye may spot an abundance of huckleberries close by. There are few things quite as satisfying as making fresh huckleberry pancakes and syrup over a campfire, or for the more civilized campers, over a camp stove.

If you can’t find any berries, or if “roughing it” becomes too great a challenge, make the short drive to McCall and visit the Pancake and Christmas House for breakfast! Civilization can also be found in nearby New Meadows. Lost Valley Reservoir is located near Tamarack (The community – not the ski resort!) about four miles off Highway 95. Take a left on Lost Valley Reservoir Road at Pine Ridge about 1 mile south of Tamarack (map).