Head south out of Baker City on Hwy 7 and drive 14.6 miles. Turn left on Black Mt. Road to the Phillips Lake Dam (Mason Dam). Take this road to the top of the dam to view the east end of the lake. This is the deep end. There is no shoulder here so stay with your car in case traffic comes. Return to Hwy 7 and continue west for 0.5 miles to a boat launch on your left for another look at the lake. (eBird Hotspot Checklist for Mason Dam)
From the boat launch, travel west on Hwy 7 for 1.9 miles to the Union Cr. Campground. The Union Creek Campground has paved roads that make walking easy. There is a trail that goes all around the lake and that trail can be accessed from Union Creek. Drive the loop in the CG and look for the boat dock where you can scope the lake. Return to Hwy 7. (eBird Hotspot Checklist for Union Creek CG)
Social Security Point is also on the north side. From the Union Creek turnoff, go west for 0.9 miles and turn left (south) on NF-300 (look for a little brown sign). Depending on water levels, This site can offer forest birding, open water birding, and shorebirding (mostly in the fall). This road will not be open if snow is on the ground or if it’s very muddy. USE CAUTION! Return to Hwy 7. (eBird Hotspot Checklist for Social Security Point)
From the SS Point turnoff Continue west on Hwy 7 for about 1.0 miles to Mowich Picnic Loop. Bird the trees and shrubs to the east for 1/4 mile until you hit Deer Creek. Loop back to the picnic area. Can be very good in migration.
Follow these instructions to access the south side of the lake. From the Picnic Loop, continue west on Hwy 7 for 1.3 miles to Hudspeth Lane (NFD – 1170). Southwest Shore and Millers Lane campgrounds provide good birding. Access these by taking Hudspeth Lane on the west side of the lake. Hudspeth goes through some tailings and has many small pools of water. Take the first left after rounding the lake and follow the signs to the other campgrounds.Directions
Habitat and Birds
Ponderosa pines and riparian vegetation are the big draws along with the lake itself. In fall when the lake is drawn down and the floodplain is exposed, there are good views of wading birds from Social Security Point on the north side of the end of the lake. Possible species here include: Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Common Loon, Mountain Bluebird, Western Bluebird, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red Crossbill, Dark-eyed Junco, Pine Siskin, Cassin’s Finch, Mountain Chickadee, Evening Grosbeak, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Song Sparrow, Calliope Hummingbird, Common Yellowthroat, Sandhill Crane and varieties of warblers and woodpeckers.