Waldo Lake: Clear Water Paddling and Huckleberries

26 10 2021

There’s a magical lake high in the Oregon Cascades. Waldo Lake. It’s so pure, you can see down 140 feet! And since there are no powered boats allowed, it is the same experience as hundreds of years ago. Sailing or paddling along its shores is a truly memorable experience. In fact, just sitting by the lake, listening to the water lap at the shore can cure a multitude of urban stresses.

Speaking of stress, we picked a weekend early in August when there happened to be a number of wildfires in the area. On the way up each of us, in different vehicles, experienced smoke so thick we considered turning back. But our experiences told us to push on, because depending on the wind, it just might be good. And voila! In the last 5 miles of the state highway to the turn-off, it cleared up and was beautiful!

Jessie, Joel and I met up with Bill and Julie and their kids. We had two campsites, both walking distance to the water. Many of the car camping sites at Waldo Lake have significant real estate! Some have an eighth of an acre.

A four-minute walk away were Bill and Julie and their kids. They all brought their kayaks as well.

The smoke was still very close. As it turned out, mornings and mid day were always clear, but then in the afternoon, the wind switched and smoke would to start to cross the lake. Toward day’s end, one couldn’t see the other side. Then at night it would switch revealing a star studded sky.

Sunsets were spectacular!

The following day, after breakfast, we set off to cruise along the north shore, with the goal of finding the headwaters of the Willamette River. We had beautiful skies, warm weather, clear water, and yes, we found the treasure: Huckleberries!

Pictures say it all! Considering that there were wildfires not 10 miles away, we totally lucked out! If you ever come to Oregon to paddle, put Waldo Lake on your checklist. FYI, there are dozens of wild campsites on the west side of the lake with guaranteed privacy!


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3 responses

27 10 2021
Crystal M. Trulove

I live north of there in Rainier, OR (close to Astoria) and I’ve never heard of Waldo Lake. Love that no motors are allowed. Your photos are great. Um…why a tent on top of the car?

26 10 2021
Marilyn Jo McLeod

I’ve lived in Central Oregon now for 6-1/2 years.. have heard of Waldo Lake but never been. It looks gorgeous! Love the clear water. I’m going to put it on my list for a wonderful camping spot. Marilyn

27 10 2021
Rod C. Richards

Hi and thanks for your comment! The campground sites on the lake are seriously generous. If you like it really quiet paddle along the north and west side There are plenty of “primitive” sites, with guaranteed quiet. FYI it is nearly as high as Timberline Lodge, so snow melts later and mosquitoes can be fierce into early August. Unfortunately now, that coincides with wildfire season. Last year in September we had to cancel due to an evacuation. We were pretty lucky this year!

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