Best Place to Kayak – Magone Lake in Oregon#PNW . Hiking . Mountain Biking . Oregon . Outdoor Recreation . Running . Tent Camping . Trailer Camping . Travel
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Visit Magone Lake, the Best Lake for Kayaking
If you’re looking for the best lake to kayak in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, check out Magone Lake, near Mount Vernon and John Day, Oregon. This roughly 50-acre lake offers calm water, beautiful natural features, and miles of shoreline to explore. At one end of the lake, a boat ramp provides access for non-motorized fishing boats. At the other, a cozy campground near the North Shore nestles among the pines. And between those two points, a sandy beach offers relaxed access to the lake and a well-maintained trail that encircles the entire lake. Keep reading for kayak access points, directions to Magone Lake, and more.
Kayak Access to Magone Lake
Magone Lake, Oregon’s Kayak Access Points
There are three main points of access to kayak Magone Lake:
- The first and most accessible sits at the south end of the lake. A broad, paved parking lot and boat ramp make this the quickest and easiest point of access. Magone Lake is a “no wake” lake, so only non-motorized boats or fishing boats using less than 10 horsepower are allowed.
- The second sits at the center of the lake to the west. This day use area with a sandy beach has ample parking, vault toilets, access to the group shelter overlooking the lake, and easy kayak access.
- The third area, at the north end of Magone Lake, forms part of the campground. The north shore at the inlet has shallow, marshy waters with significantly more underwater logs to navigate.
So if you’re staying at the campground, the third area offers a great point of entry to the lake. Otherwise, the boat ramp and day use beach area are the better two kayak access areas.
How Big is Magone Lake?
Kayak Across Magone Lake in 15 Minutes or Less
Magone Lake is just 50 acres, so you can easily paddle your way across and around the lake in no time at all. The lake has numerous stumps that protrude from the water, the most notable right in the center of the lake. In fact, visitors have notched the log to create a sort of jumping platform if you have the courage to take the plunge! Other stumps line the banks of the lake in shallower water. These natural features provide fun obstacles to navigate along the shore of Magone Lake.
Other Recreational Activities at Magone Lake
What else is there to do at Magone Lake?
Magone Lake in Oregon is one of the calmest and most relaxing lakes to kayak and explore. But the Eastern Oregon oasis offers dozens of other activities, as well. Walk, hike, or mountain bike the lake’s 1-mile perimeter trail and other connected trails. Relax along the shore and swim in the shallow water or out into the deeper areas, either at the day use area or any number of quiet beaches around the lake. Camp and fish at the lake’s federal campsite. Magone Lake has a surprising variety of outdoor recreation, whether you’re here for an afternoon, a weekend, or a longer summer camp. Keep reading for our recommendations to enjoy the best of Magone Lake.
Walk or Hike Magone Lake
Magone Lake Trail #352
A maintained, one-mile gravel path encircles the lake. And there’s even an accessible section with paving, interpretive signs, and a large viewing platform that extends out over the lake. Magone Lake Trail #352 offers an easy, mostly flat loop with views of the lake and surrounding White Fir and Ponderosa Pine forests. In fact, the total elevation change of the entire trail is less than 25 feet. Mountain biking is prohibited on trail #352.
Magone Slide Trail #353
For a slightly more challenging hike, explore the Magone Slide Trail from the day use area. This trail leads up into White Fir and Ponderosa Pine Forests and includes about 300 feet of total elevation change. Around 1860, a landslide created Magone Lake. The Ponderosa Pine stands in this area were growing at that time. This hike offers great views and interesting geological history. As with Trail #352 around the lake, no motorized vehicles, horses, or mountain bikes are allowed on this trail.
Relax on the Beaches at Magone Lake
If you’re not interested in kayaking, boating, swimming, or walking around Magone Lake, there’s always one other option: sit on a beach and do nothing! Magone Lake has numerous access points and beaches that dot the shore, in between tree stumps and rock outcroppings. The best sandy beach sits just below the main parking area and group picnic structure. This beach extends around the main point, overlooking most of the lake from a central location. Bring your towels and sunscreen, because this is a spot you won’t want to leave! Other fun spots, like the shallows below, can be found along the eastern shore, directly across from the day use area.
Camping at Magone Lake
Fees & Amenities – Magone Lake Camp Sites
|Single Campsites||$13 per night, plus $5 per night for extra vehicles|
|Group Shelter||$25 daily rate (75 people maximum)|
|Group Campsite||$60 per night (20-50 people)|
- The Magone Lake Campground offers 21 single sites, 1 double site, and 1 group site. 7 of the 23 sites are accessible.
- Only the group camp site and day use shelter can be reserved online through the Recreation.gov website or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
- Group shelter and campsite reservations are on a 12-month rolling period. So you can make reservations for these two areas up to one year in advance.
- All single and double sites are first-come, first-served during the open season of May 13 to October 31.
- No hookups for trailers; pack-in, pack-out facility without garbage removal services.
Directions to Magone Lake in Oregon
Magone Lake is a short 30-40 minute drive from Clyde Holliday State Park, mostly because of the 10 or so miles on gravel forest service access roads. The roads are wide and well-maintained, but it just takes longer to drive on the winding, gravel roads. But it’s worth the drive. Magone Lake sits above the surrounding high desert, among higher elevation White Fir and Ponderosa Pine forests. The lake is just 20 miles from John Day and Prairie City. Use the maps and directions below to get to Magone Lake from the east (Boise, Vail, and Prairie City) or the west (Bend, Prineville, and the John Day Fossil Beds).
Driving from Mount Vernon
- Clyde Holliday State Park and Mount Vernon to Magone Lake: 21 miles (34 km).
There are two routes from Mt. Vernon, but the fastest takes you up 395N and not back through John Day. Drive north from Mount Vernon on U.S. Highway 395N for approximately 10 miles. Then, turn east to take National Forest Road 36 for about 7.5 miles. Then, at the fork, take a slight left onto Forest Road 3618 for 1.9 miles. You’ll find the turnoffs to the boat ramp, day use area, and campground to your right.
Driving from Prairie City
- Prairie City, Oregon to Magone Lake Campground: 18.8 miles (30 km).
Drive from Prairie City, Oregon, take U.S. Highway 26 west for about 3 miles. Then, turn north to take County Road 18 for about 10 miles. Drive left at Forest Road 3620 for 1 mile, until you come to Forest Road 3618. You’ll find the campground 1 mile from the turnoff, the last turnoff before the road continues beyond the lake. Turn left between the boat ramp and the campground for the reservable group site, shelter, and day use area.
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