“Will the fires reach Kelsay Valley Horse Camp?” That was the question on the minds of many southern Oregon equestrians in July and August, as the Cable Crossing Fire blazed to the west of the horse camp and the National Creek Fire Complex burned to the south. The Cable Crossing Fire severely damaged several downstream segments of the 79-mile long North Umpqua Trail, which runs past the horse camp. Happily, though, Kelsay Valley Horse Camp and its nearby trails were spared. As I write this in early September, the fires are nearly contained and the smoky haze that has hung over the area for weeks has dissipated.
Horseback riders from all over the state are happy to hear the good news, because Kelsay Valley is a delightful horse camp that offers some pretty exceptional riding trails. One such trail is the Lemolo Segment of the North Umpqua Trail, which starts at the horse camp and runs beside the North Umpqua River and past Lemolo Lake.
Once the river passes Kelsay Valley Horse Camp, though, you’re on the Lemolo Segment of the North Umpqua Trail. Here the terrain flattens out and the river meanders more slowly through lush meadows and past seasonal wildflowers before reaching the Lemolo Lake reservoir. The Lemolo Segment of the North Umpqua Trail has little elevation change and offers views of the river, Mt. Thielsen, and Lemolo Lake. It’s a very relaxing and enjoyable ride – not to be missed!
The trail departs from the south side of the road at the entrance to the horse camp. After 0.3 mile the Windigo Pass Trail #1412 goes off to the left. Stay right and in another 0.2 mile the Maidu Lake Segment #1414 goes to the left. Stay right again, and in 0.3 mile you’ll cross the North Umpqua River and travel for 1.3 miles past the flower-filled meadows along the riverbank. Then the trail reaches Road 60. Turn right and cross the river using the Road 60 bridge, then pick up the trail again on the left, almost directly across from Road 6000-958 (the road to the horse camp). From here the trail runs along the hillside above Road 2612 and Lemolo Lake. When you reach Road 700 about 3.5 miles from the horse camp, be sure to take a side trip 0.5 mile north on Road 700 to see the lovely Crystal Springs. The trail continues to parallel the lake shore as it travels to the Lemolo Lake Dam and on to the North Umpqua Trail’s While Mule Trailhead. Along the way, you’ll enjoy nice mountain and lake views through the trees.
Ride Statistics: This is a 12-mile out-and-back ride. Elevations range from 3,900 to 4,400 feet. Stock water is available on the trail. Hoof protection is recommended. The best maps of the trail are BLM’s North Umpqua Trail brochure (available online), and the Diamond Lake Ranger District Map.
Getting to Kelsay Valley Horse Camp: From I-5 in Roseburg, drive east on Hwy. 138 for 72 miles. Turn left at Lemolo Reservoir Junction. Go north on Road 2610, cross the dam, and turn right on Road 2612. Continue 4.2 miles to the junction with Road 60. Veer left, then immediately turn right onto Road 6000-958 and follow it 1.5 miles to the horse camp.
Kelsay Valley Horse Camp Facilities: 16 sites with fire rings and picnic tables. Most sites have 4-, 3-, 2-, or 1-horse pipe corrals, and the other sites can accommodate high-lines. Six sites are pull-throughs that can hold 2 vehicles. The camp has a toilet, a manure pit, and a camp host. Stock water is conveniently available from a nearby creek. A fee is charged for overnight camping. The horse camp’s elevation is 4,300 feet.
More Information: The Lemolo Lake Segment of the North Umpqua Trail is covered in the Kelsay Valley chapter of Riding Southern Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2014).