Oregon's Clear Lake

A cluster of ancient trees lies submerged in a crystalline lake near Sisters, Ore.

Clear Lake near Sisters, Ore., image

Too chilly for algae, Clear Lake’s looking-glass waters attract boaters.

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The forest embraces calm Clear Lake at the pristine, spring-fed headwaters of the McKenzie River. Here, half an hour west of Sisters, Ore., rowers, anglers, and scuba divers get a glimpse of a haunting natural wonder—a stand of 3,000-year-old trees submerged in the lake’s 37-degree waters.

“These trees aren’t petrified, they are just really, really cold,” says park ranger Steve Christiansen, explaining how the trees have endured underwater without rotting ever since a lava dam formed the lake. Three large clusters of dark trunks can be found in the west end, close to Crockett Lodge and the source of the waters.

A five-mile path cuts around the lake through Douglas firs and hemlocks, offering shoreline vistas and peeks at the surrounding Cascades. Linn County Parks & Recreation rents rowboats from the lodge. (541) 967-3917, www.co.linn.or.us/parks.

Photography by Randy Dunbar

This article was first published in September 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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