Clear Lake Loop Trail
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Clear Lake Loop Trail

Length: Approximately 2 mile loop
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: near zero feet
Forest Service Trail #4341 Site: Clear Lake Loop Trail

There are two places where you can easily access this trail: at the Clear Lake Resort, just off Highway 126, or at the Coldwater Cove Campground whose access road turns off Highway 126 a little south of Clear Lake. To make a loop around the lake you will also hike a portion of the McKenzie River National Scenic Trail, which starts north of the lake, runs along the east side of the lake, and then continues south along the McKenzie River.
Clear Lake is the official start of the McKenzie River. It is true to its name; remarkably clear. The lake is surrounded by old growth trees and it contains some of the oldest old growth in Oregon; that is because some of the trees that were drowned 3,000 years ago, when the lake was formed by a lava dam, can still be seen under the surface of the lake.
old growth mirror small graphic old growth hill small graphic

You can visit the Lake any time of the year, and take the loop trail spring, summer and fall. Portions of the trail on the west side of the lake may be closed in the spring because of nesting bald eagles, but that offers you the opportunity to perhaps see eagles fishing the lake.
At any time of the year you can enjoy a high mountain lake in the Cascades, see old growth forests around the lake, and sometimes catch a glimpse of Mt. Washington over the trees.
fall lake graphic peek at mt washington graphic

Directions: From McKenzie Bridge,OR, travel east on Highway 126 for 18 miles to the Clear Lake Area.
For the Coldwater Cove Campground trailhead: before reaching Clear Lake, turn right on Forest Road 770, heading northeast 1 mile to Coldwater Cove Campground.
For the Clear Lake Resort trailhead; drive past the road to Coldwater Cove Campground to the road to Clear Lake Resort. There is a picnic area there with parking.
All miles are approximate, yours may vary.
The loop trail from the campground can start either to the north or southwest of the campground. If you follow the rail to the north you will go up the east side of the lake to the head of the lake. Along the way you will pass the Great Springs which are regarded as the start of the McKenzie River. At the north end of the lake, you will hike a short distance up Fish Lake Creek to where the Loop trail departs to the right from the McKenzie River National Scenic Trail (which continues north up Fish Lake Creek for about half a mile to the start of that trail). When the Clear Lake Loop Trail leaves the McKenzie River Trail, it goes south to rejoin the lake and proceed along the west side of the lake. This west side portion goes through the Clear Lake Resort and a short distance south on roads until the picnic area where it becomes a foot trail again. It goes south to the end of the lake where a bridge crosses the (small) McKenzie River and then goes back to the Coldwater Cove Campground.

clear lake trail map
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