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. Of the three, Wilson Creek Park near the southern end of the lake is certainly the largest and most accommodating. Here visitors will find a large boat ramp and plenty of parking and several picnic shelters beneath the shade of enormous Douglas firs. A designated swimming area makes this the best place for families to enjoy Cottage Grove Lake. The entry into the water is very gradual, so wading is easy, and a buoy chain clearly sets the zone off from any boat traffic from the ramp. A playground is located just across the parking area if the water isn’t right for swimming, and heaps of additional picnic facilities are just a little farther down the road toward the entrance. Restrooms, water, and showers top off the amenities at this large lakeside park, making it a great destination for a day on or by the water.