Olive Lake is unique in offering visitors a trifecta of recreation, nature watching and history all in one package.
The 160-acre, 100-foot deep lake sits at 6,200 feet elevation in the Blue Mountains about 12 miles west of the historic mining town of Granite. Legend says the lake was named for the wife of a miner or dam caretaker. Remnants of a cabin can be found in the Forest Service campground.
The campground features 28 campsites and seven accessible toilet facilities. A 2.5-mile trail circles the lake, providing access to wilderness and scenic trails, a boat ramp and two docks. No potable water or garbage service is available.
Visitors to Olive Lake will find fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, hunting and photography opportunities. Gas and electric trolling boat motors are allowed but no wakes, water skiing or personal watercraft.
Nesting osprey, swimming otters and abundant wildflowers can be seen at the lake. Anglers will find redband rainbow and brook trout up to 15 inches, the occasional Lahontan cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon up to 12 inches.
The log crib and rock dam was originally built in 1908 to increase water storage for the Fremont Powerhouse about 8 miles away. A redwood pipe at the base of the dam once brought water to the powerhouse.
The Forest Service is working on plans to fix a discharge gate in the man-made dam that stopped working properly in 2016. Half an acre around the 30-foot dam is closed to hikers and a string of buoys mark a 200-foot portion of the lake that is closed to swimmers and boaters.
The Olive Lake Campground is available on a first-come, first-served basis with fees at $12 per night for single campsites, with $5 per additional vehicle, and $25 per night for group campsites.
From John Day, drive east on Highway 26 to Austin Junction, follow State Route 7 for 25 miles, turn left on State Route 410, drive about 20 miles to Granite, turn left on County Road 24, after 3.6 miles bear right on Forest Service Road 10 and drive 7.5 miles to the lake.
For more information, call the North Fork John Day Ranger Station at 541-427-3231 or visit fs.usda.gov/umatilla.