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South Waldo Shelter Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

This page is marked as a Closed Hike. Some or all of this hike has been closed by a governing body and hikers may be liable for fines or even arrest. At least part of this route may be dangerous and hard to follow, or it may cross areas with sensitive plant life or wildlife habitat. Trailkeepers of Oregon does not endorse or recommend hiking this route. When restrictions are lifted, this notice will be removed.
South Waldo Shelter on the Waldo Lake Trail (bobcat)
Big mountain hemlocks, Waldo Lake Trail (bobcat)
Island on the south shore of Waldo Lake (bobcat)
The trail to the South Waldo Shelter (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Shadow Bay TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: South Waldo Shelter
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 3.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 35 feet
  • High Point: 5,450 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Summer into fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No



NOTICE: This area is within the 2022 Cedar Creek Fire closure zone. Please check current closures in the Willamette National Forest before planning an outing.

Waldo Lake is one of Oregon’s largest natural lakes and is also considered one of the purest lakes in the world. This is because few streams enter the lake to add nutrients that encourage plant growth. The lakeshore itself is not wilderness as the Waldo Lake Trail, also known as the Jim Weaver Loop Trail, is also open to mountain bikers. However, on the south, west, and north shores of the lake, the trail itself forms the boundary with the wilderness. This short hike gives you a sampling of the lake shore on, arguably, its prettiest section. You'll hike under old-growth mountain hemlocks to a three-sided shelter in a wet meadow. Take careful note, though: early in the summer, mosquitoes abound!

Find the Waldo Shoreline Trail heading into a lichen-draped mountain hemlock woodland at the east end of the parking area. Blue diamonds on trees denote this is a cross-country ski route. Engelmann spruce, silver fir, noble fir, and western white pine also form the forest canopy here as you hike through huckleberry, grouseberry, and bear-grass. Cross a footbridge, and keep right at the Waldo Lake-Waldo Shoreline Trail Junction to join the Waldo Lake Trail #3590, additionally labeled as the Jim Weaver Loop Trail (Mountain bikers also use this loop). Pass a wilderness kiosk (The boundary of the Waldo Lake Wilderness is the left side of this trail), and drop to pass over a footbridge and cross a boggy seep of skunk-cabbage and wood fern. After a couple more footbridges, you’ll see a spur to the right that leads to a beach and views to a small forested island just offshore. A second spur a little later takes you to a campsite and a closer view of the island. The trail now veers away from the lakeshore to circle around a lush meadow at the lake’s southern end. Cross a footbridge, and note the large hemlocks and spruces. At a trail junction, go right to reach the South Waldo Shelter, with its shake roof, wood stove, picnic table, and sleeping platform. The shelter, on the edge of a wet meadow, is maintained by Lewis & Clark College Outdoors. Mid-summer blooms include marsh-marigolds, shooting stars, mertensia, cinquefoil, lovage, buttercup, and valerian. In June and July, this will be a very brief stop before you get mobbed by the local horde of mosquitoes!

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) required
  • Self-issued wilderness permit
  • Restrooms, picnic area, campground nearby
  • Share Waldo Lake Trail with mountain bikers
  • Lots of mosquitoes until August


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Waldo Lake Wilderness
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Middle Fork Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Willamette National Forest
  • Pacific Northwest Recreation Map Series: Willamette Cascades
  • Pacific Northwest Recreation Map Series: Central Oregon Cascades
  • Adventure Maps: Oakridge, Oregon Trail Map

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Best Hikes With Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson & Zach Urness
  • Best Hikes with Children: Western & Central Oregon by Bonnie Henderson
  • 100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades by William L. Sullivan
  • 50 Old-Growth Hikes in the Willamette National Forest by John & Diane Cissel (illustrated map)
  • Hiking Central Oregon & Beyond by Virginia Meissner
  • Oregon's Southern Cascades: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Mountain Bike Bend by Katy Bryce

More Links

Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.