Cottage Grove Lake is the smaller sibling to Dorena Reservoir, both flood control projects that the Army Corps of Engineers completed in the 1940s. While the Row River backs up to create Dorena, the Coast Fork Willamette River feeds Cottage Grove Lake. Slightly farther south than Dorena, this lake is easier to reach but lacks some of the infrastructure that surrounds Dorena.
Three day use areas provide access to Cottage Grove Lake: Shortridge Park, Wilson Creek Park, and Lakeside Park. Shortridge is located along the northeast lakeshore and is an excellent destination for a day by the water. A rocky shore slides gently into the water, so the area is a good choice for little ones (although Wilson Creek Park has a designated swimming area). Several picnic areas are up for grabs here, and potable water and restrooms are available. Douglas firs keep the area shaded and cool in the summer, though finding sunny spots is easy as well. Plenty of open, grassy areas and lots of available shoreline means room to roam and swim, and staging a large function for a group would be a cinch. Generally this day use area receives less pressure than Lakeside Park on the north shore and Wilson Creek Park to the south, so be sure to check it out if you’re searching for a little more space.