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Waldo Lake

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Island on the south shore of Waldo Lake (bobcat)


Waldo Lake is considered one of the purest lakes in the world. Being almost on the crest of the Cascades, it has only a few short inflowing streams bearing little sediment. At 9.8 square miles, it is the second-largest natural freshwater lake in Oregon after Crater Lake. It is also, after Crater Lake, the second deepest, at 420 feet.

Waldo Lake finally became a non-motorized lake in 2012, thus ensuring water quality. The Waldo Lake Wilderness is to the north, west, and south of the lake, but does not come to Waldo Lake's shores. The Waldo Lake Trail (Jim Weaver Loop) encircles the lake and is open to mountain bikers. In 1914, a head gate and tunnel were constructed on the west shore of the lake to divert water to the Willamette Valley for irrigation purposes. The lake's level dropped by 25 feet, but the operation was not financially successful. The head gate, which is still there in Klovdahl Bay, was eventually closed in 1960.

The lake is named after John Breckenridge Waldo (1844-1907), the first justice on Oregon's Supreme Court who had been born in the state. Waldo had a passion for exploring Oregon's wild places, and he wrote extensively about his travels in the Cascades. His writing took on a conservationist tone when he lamented the destruction of Cascade forests by loggers, homesteaders, and sheep herders.

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