Maybe you live in Grants Pass or Medford and want a great place for day rides. Or maybe you live farther away and are interested in a fun destination to ride and camp with your horse. Or maybe you’re planning a trip to the Redwoods and want a horse camping spot halfway there. If any of these conditions apply, Lake Selmac is the place for you.
Lake Selmac is a Josephine County park with a splendid network of trails that explore the hills around pretty Lake Selmac, plus a horse camp with all the amenities you could wish for. And all of this is only three miles off the Redwood Highway (Hwy. 199) about 20 miles southwest of Grants Pass.
The trails depart from the day-use parking area at the entrance to the Mallard Loop family campground, adjacent to the horse camp. You can ride the South Mountain Loop trails, the Osprey Trail, and the Saddlebag Trail — plenty of riding to fill a weekend of horse camping. And if you’re lucky enough to live nearby, you’ve got good reasons to come often to explore these delightful trails.
The South Mountain Loops explore a large hill that lies south of Lake Selmac and west of the horse camp. The Osprey Trail explores the hills west of the lake, and the Saddlebag Trail runs mostly on old logging roads that encircle a long ridge south of the horse camp.
The ridges are covered with towering Douglas-fir trees, with an understory of alder, madrone, dogwood, and oak. The vegetation changes dramatically depending on which side of the hills you are on, adding variety to your rides.
So get out there, enjoy the beautiful forest, and have fun getting to know the area. The riding isn’t difficult and the trails are well maintained, but the trail junctions aren’t signed so a map is a must and a GPS may come in handy.
Getting to Lake Selmac Horse Camp: From Grants Pass, take Hwy. 199 (Redwood Hwy.) southeast for 21 miles. Turn left on Lakeshore Drive at the sign for Lake Selmac and drive 2 miles. At the Y-intersection with Reeves Creek Road, stay to the left on Lakeshore Drive. Continue 0.7 mile and veer right on McMullen Creek Road, then in 200 feet turn right on Higgenbottom Road, the park entrance. Continue 0.4 mile, driving through the family campgrounds and past the ball field to reach the horse-staging area next to the entrance to the Mallard Loop campground or the horse camp at the end of the road.
Campground Facilities: The horse camp has six sites with corrals for 2, 3, or 4 horses. You’ll find a water spigot at each campsite, plus a fire pit, picnic table, and garbage cans. One site has full RV hookups. All sites are level and most have room for 2 vehicles. There is also a group site that is available for day use only. Flush toilets and free hot showers are available at the Mallard Loop Campground adjacent to the horse camp. You can park for the day at the horse-staging area next to the entrance to the Mallard Campground loop, just west of the horse camp. Fee for overnight camping fee; no fee for day-use parking.
Reservations: Advance reservations are recommended. Call Reservations Northwest at 800-452-5687.
More Information: Lake Selmac and all the nearby trails are described in detail in Riding Southern Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2014).