Waldo Lake is definitely one of Oregon’s purest jewels. At 5,414 feet, 58 miles southeast of Eugene, OR., Waldo Lake provides a relaxing atmosphere, exciting wilderness hikes and the opportunity to engage in non-motorized watersports.
In the summer of 1996 a forest fire burnt over 10,000 acres of the forest surrounding the northern shore of Waldo Lake and the nearby Rigdon Butte Lakes.
Waldo Lake is the head of the historic Willamette River. Oregon’s second largest lake, it is upstaged only by Klamath Lake in the south. At 420 feet, Waldo Lake is also Oregon’s second deepest lake, fish can be seen swimming through clear, pure water 100 feet below the lakes surface. Only Crater Lake can compete with Waldo Lake’s depth.
The United States Forest Service maintains three campgrounds on the east side of the lake:
North Waldo Lake
The lake is popular with sailors who bring their sailboats and catamarans. All three campgrounds have boat ramps. At the North Waldo Lake campground we observed slips for boats and little alcoves which were made near the campsites in which canoes and kayaks are kept.
Although motorized boats are still allowed on the lake, speed must be kept below 10 miles per hour. We support the proposed plans to prohibit all non-emergency motorized traffic on the lake. This lake is considered one of the worlds most pure and natural water sources, and should be preserved.
Evenings, be it clear or partially cloudy, will provide you with some most spectacular sunsets looking west across the lake.
Rigdon Lakes Trail, around Rigdon Butte
Take Oregon State Highway 58 east from Eugene.
You will pass through the town of Oakridge (if you don’t have your forest passes, stop at the ranger station here).
Turn left (north) at the well marked exit to Waldo Lake.
The road is very well maintained, watch for rocks in the road near cuts.
Travel to your selected campground or trailhead along the road
Pamelia Lake Trail is one of the best day hikes in Oregon.
One of the biggest draws of this hike is the wonderful stream that meanders along the right side of the trail. Because the stream is fed by the surrounding mountains snow melt, this stream has a slightly different character and intensity depending upon what time of year you do this hike. This factor makes this a hike that is fun to do a couple times a year.
The trail is around 5 miles in total length. Two and a half miles in to a sweet little lake that is nestled within the bowl of the surrounding mountains and another two and a half miles back out along the same trail.
Once you get to the lake you can add another mile or so to the hike by hiking around the lake. The trail is not a difficult one and provides many interesting things to look at along the way. There are many areas along the trail with easy access to the stream. You will walk among a nice combination of disiduous and coniferous trees. Trilliums abound on this trail along with many other wild flowers. The lake is quite still and a good place to sit and look for fish, we can almost guarantee that you will see some. This is a very satisfying hike and provides a lot of enjoyment without a lot of work.
Wilderness permits are required. You can obtain them for free at the Detroit Ranger Station. You will need to pay $3.00 for a parking permit. You might want to call ahead and reserve your permit as visitation to this secluded lake is limited.
Pamelia Lake is located 7 miles north of Detroit, OR.
Detroit Ranger Station
US Forest Service
610 N Santiam Hwy
Detroit, OR 97342
(503) 854-3366 (voice) (503) 854-3369 (TTY)
From Salem, OR, take Oregon State Highway 22 to milepost 68 turn left onto Pamelia Lake Road..
The road is a narrow but paved, one lane with turnouts.
Drive straight for about 3 miles and you will come to the trailhead
There are limited bathroom facilities and no running water.