logo home new finds about archives links contact


Little Crater Lake

A Scruffy Pond

Little Crater Lake

The first time I saw Little Crater Lake, my friend Jim and I arrived at Timothy Lake from the back route, up Hwy. 224 along the Clackamas River from Estacada on a stunning spring day. Since we were neither fishermen nor hikers that day, but simple wanderers looking at the sights, we stopped near Timothy’s northern shores for a casual hike into a sub-alpine meadow full of wildflowers and birdsong to a tiny lake. Er, pond. As we approached along a dirt path through untamed grasses, the pond did not look different from any other pond one might find surrounded by scrub brush, reeds and a few fir trees. “It’s just a scruffy pond,” said Jim. It looked that way to me too.

We were wrong.

At the water’s edge we couldn’t help but stare. Speechless. The so-called scruffy pond was an exquisite crystal clear turquoise with shades of teal, midnight blue and cobalt just like it’s namesake, Crater Lake. Formed by a deep fissure and artesian springs, at certain angles, you can peer deep into the earth through the clear blue waters. It’s at once captivating and otherworldly scary. Imagine coming upon this place for the first time. The colors alone would stop you in your tracks and make you wonder if you hadn’t stumbled upon an enchanted pool.

This fine summer day, my twenty-something niece Leslie and I are simply checking in on favorite places driving to Summit Meadows, Trillium Lake and the White River Canyon on Hwy. 35 for that “Whoa!” look at Mt. Hood. We decide to head on over to Timothy Lake to see Little Crater Lake.

“The first time I saw it, it freaked me out,” said Leslie, who was eight years old at the time.

Me too! Even though I was in my thirties. We spend the next nine miles telling each other how goose-bump scared we were seeing the alien pond that first time. And why are we going again? Naturally, we have to see if it freaks us out again.

A few cars are parked at the entrance to the trail, still a path through meadows full of wildflowers and birdsong, now paved, with the added attraction of a few mooing cows. There’s a wooden viewing platform with a rail and a sign that warns: No Swimming. We are again dumbstruck. Speechless. The pond is achingly beautiful. Crystal clear still in those deep hues of turquoise and midnight blue and you can see ancient drowned logs at the bottom. Creepy dead logs. Since some of the brush has been cleared around the edges, you can see the bank and the abrupt drop-off into the blue. We agree it’s still a bit otherworldly like a meteor impact filled with outer space magic. We try to capture the color on film. Like any ethereal thing we can’t. Scruffy pond? Not in your wildest dreams.

back to top

back to Mt. Hood overview