Photo of Lost Lake, Oregon

Weekly Gem #258, A Lost Lake, that is sometimes disguised as a meadow

Published 7/3/21

Location: This Hidden Gem is located at the intersection of Highway 20 and NF Road 835, near Santiam Junction, Oregon (see the Clue Me! Map). 

In this area about 12,000 years ago there were volcanic eruptions. As the lava cooled, it created a bowl-shaped meadow. In the spring, snow melt from the Cascade Mountains floods into the meadow and Lost Lake appears!

As the lava cooled, it also left behind a network of "lava tubes." Two of these tubes, about 6 feet in diameter, come to the surface at the bottom of the meadow … or lake … and water drains through them, but not nearly as fast as the meadow is filled in the spring. Through the dry days of summer the water continues to empty through the lava tubes and Lost Lake is “lost” again.

The end.

... But where does the water go?

This is a great example of how water gets filtered and cleaned before it ends up in an aquifer. Geologists think it takes about 10 years for the water you see in Lost Lake to percolate through the layers of Oregon's igneous rock to the aquifer under the Cascade Mountains - all cleaned and pressed and ready to drink!


Here's the hidden gem entry from our Clue Me! map.


Don't you hate it when you lose things?


Lost Lake

Why It's Interesting

Two lava tubes continually drain this lake. In the spring it is filled with melting snow, but by late summer there is very little to drain, and the lava tubes are visible.

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