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
The meadows of Paradise are arguably the most popular summer hiking destination located within Mount Rainier National Park. Late each summer, peaking around the second week in August, massive amounts of flowers burst into bloom across the spectacular meadows of Paradise.
You will find many hiking trails in Paradise. Trails range from less than a quarter mile on a paved surface to the five mile dirt, gravel and snow, Skyline Trail which travels the circumference of the meadows. Common flowers that you will find are Indian Paintbrush, Daisies, Lupins, Beargrass and many many others.
Mount Jefferson is a 10,495 feet (3,199 meters) high stratovolcano. It is the second highest in the Oregon Cascade Range, falling second only to Mount Hood by a mere 800 feet. Mount Jefferson last erupted about 15,000 years ago and has shown it has the potential for “large explosive eruptions.” It is home to the Russel, Jefferson Park, Whitewater and Waldo Glaciers.
Good viewpoints can be found along Highway 20 as you travel east around Detrot Lake and from Bend to Sisters, OR looking west from the east side of the Cascade Range. If you want to take a hike, try Pamelia Lake and then on up to the top of Grizzly Peak for spectacular views.
The Three Sisters are majestic rising from the high desert plain east of the Central Cascade Range. Their height is only 6,700 feet above the desert floor, compare this with the 10,200 feet above Oregon’s Willamette Valley and you can see a considerable rise is relative height.
The North Sister is a shield volcano and is 10,085 feet (3,074 meters) high. North Sister is the oldest of the Three Sisters and last erupted about 100,000 years ago. It is home to the Linn, Villard, Thayer and part of the Collier Glaciers.
Middle Sister is a composite volcano and is 10,047 feet (3,062 meters) high. It is home to the Collier, Renfrew, Hayden and Diller Glaciers.
In the saddle between Middle and South Sister you will find the Chambers Lakes.
South Sister is a composite volcano and is 10,358 feet (3,157 meters) high. South Sister is the youngest of the Three Sisters, erupted as recently as 2000 years ago. It is home to the Skinner, Eugene, Lost Creek, Prouty, Lewis and Clark Glaciers. The top of South Sister is relatively flat and is home to Teardrop Pool.
You must obtain a wilderness permit to enter the protected Three Sisters Wilderness. These are usually found at the trailheads. You can also stop by a US Forest Ranger Station on your way.
The tallest peak in the Cascade Range, Mount Rainier towers at a dizzying 14,411 feet (4,392 M). The snow covered peak is blanketed by glaciers year round. This mountain is known as Mount Tahoma to the Nisqually Native American tribe. It waits, dormant but not dead.
Mount Saint Helens is famous for it’s May 18, 1980 eruption, spewing smoke and ash as far east as Montana. It is now 8,364 feet (2,549 M), before the eruption it was 9,667 feet high. Both the North and South forks of the Toutle River were flooded with mud flow and debris. Spirit Lake, north of Mount Saint Helens, has a large portion of it’s surface area covered with floating logs. Twenty years later these logs are still floating and can be seen easily from the air.
In 1987 the southern slope of the mountain was reopened to hikers. For more information please call the Climbing Information Line at (360) 247-3961.
Pictured here in mid-march, just after sunrise, is mighty Mount Hood. A few islands of land poke through the clouds in the foreground. On a clear day Mount Hood can be seen from Portland, OR. At 11,245 feet(3,426 M) it is the highest in the Oregon Cascade Range, rivaled only by Mount Rainier.