South Waldo Lake

South Waldo Lake

  • Easy (to South Waldo Shelter)
  • 3.4 miles round trip
  • No elevation gain
  • Open mid-June to early November
  • Use: hikers, horses, bicycles

  • Moderate (to Black Meadows)
  • 9.8-mile loop
  • 1000 feet elevation gain
  • Use: hikers, horses

Perhaps the prettiest portion of the shoreline trail around mile-high Waldo Lake, this hike starts at a popular sailboat landing and leads past a sandy beach to a shelter in a meadow. More ambitious hikers can add a loop through a remote corner of the Waldo Lake Wilderness, passing Black Meadows and the prodigious huckleberry fields near Bingo Lake. Visit in August for berries; avoid July because of mosquitoes.

Oregon’s second largest natural lake, Waldo covers 10 square miles to a depth of 417 feet. Despite its size the lake has no inlet, leaving its waters so pure and clear they are virtually devoid of plant life. Boaters can watch fish swimming 100 feet deep. The lake is named for Judge John B. Waldo, an early devotee of the Oregon Cascades who trekked from Willamette Pass to Mt. Shasta in 1888.

To drive here, take . . .

Next the path enters a first-rate huckleberry patch. Wildfire killed most trees on this hillside; the resulting sunshine makes the berries particularly fat and juicy. Continue purple-fingered past Bingo Lake and over a rise to the Waldo shoreline trail. Turn right and pass a lovely swimming beach en route back to the shelter.

This chapter is an excerpt from 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Central Oregon Cascades.