Imagine Diamond Lake and you’ll probably picture camping near the water or fishing for trout. Generations of visitors have enjoyed spending time at a campsite near the lake or overnighting at the Diamond Lake Resort.
Another aspect to explore is the 11.5-mile trail ringing the lake, which recently received some much needed attention.
No question that weather conditions at the high-elevation lake, coupled with tree roots and heavy use has resulted in stretches of broken, patchy pavement. Engineers from the Umpqua National Forest evaluated areas needing improvement in 2016 before putting the work out to bid in early spring of 2017.
PF Pepiot Contracting from Sutherlin handled the contract of $145,000, which came from the Federal Lands Transportation program as a grant to the U.S. Forest Service to improve the trail.
The project included armoring the trail in places where people were going off the edge of the trail, filling in sections with gravel before asphalting, eliminating tree roots and installing railing. The high cost of asphalt ate up a lot of the project funds.
“This trail makes you feel the outdoors,” stated Peggy Roberts, the engineering technician managing the project for the Forest Service. “You can bike on the road around Diamond Lake, but it just doesn’t give you the great views of Mt. Thielsen, Mt. Bailey and Crater Rim that you get on the trail.”
Peggy and her coworker, Robert Lee, inspected the trail several times by bike during the project. “This past May we saw a red bush that turned out to be hundreds of red ladybugs on a green bush,” Peggy shared.
The idea for a trail around Diamond Lake started in the late 1970s as recreation personnel on the Umpqua National Forest were looking for a way to diversify recreation opportunities in the Diamond Lake area. By 1983, the forest’s trail inventory listed only 1.2 miles of documented trail around the lake. More trail existed, but it wasn’t officially recognized.
The trail as it exists today was built in four phases. Phase 1, from 1985 to 1987, completed the trail from the Diamond Lake Lodge to the south end of the Diamond Lake campground. Phase 2, in 1986, included completing the section from the lodge to Thielsen View campground.
Phase 3, in 1988, included the section from the Pizza Parlor to Silent Creek. The final phase was the western segment connecting Silent Creek to Thielsen View campground, completed in 1993.
The trail became renamed as the John R. Dellenback Trail during a dedication ceremony on June 11, 2000, in honor of John Richard Dellenback, who served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1967-1975.
Exploring the Trail
You can park at either boat ramp at Diamond Lake and venture out on bike or foot. Roberts reminds us that motorized traffic or horseback riders are not permitted on the trail.
“You can pack a lunch with you to enjoy at the south end of the lake near Silent Creek where there’s a meadow and a side trail going to Teal and Horse lakes,” Roberts said. Other meal options include the Pizza Parlor or restaurant at the lodge
Other ideas for turning your trip into a longer experience include overnighting at the Diamond Lake Lodge or camping at one of the three Forest Service campgrounds – Diamond Lake, Thielsen View and Broken Arrow – and then hopping onto the trail from the lodge or campground.
When asked which direction is the best for riding, Roberts said: “We saw most people riding or running around the lake in a counterclockwise direction. But Robert and I rode our bikes clockwise because of our mileage counter.”
Either direction will deliver a delightful fall experience that’s suitable for everyone to enjoy.