Clear Lake, the origin of the McKenzie River, is a popular destination for hikers, boaters and fishermen. Until the snow starts falling. Winter transforms this lake into a snowy wonderland that is perfect for a snowshoe excursion.
The water in Clear Lake is remarkably clear, and on a nice day you can look down and see trees rising up from the lake's bottom. These trees were part of a forest submerged by water 3,000 years ago. The cold water temperature has kept these trees frozen in time.
The 5.5-mile trail circumnavigating the lake is not marked for winter travel, but people use the trail year round. Chances are good that you'll be able to follow footprints all around the lake. If you're staying at Clear Lake Resort, which is open all year, simply head out the front door of your cabin and start walking. If you're just driving in for the day, park at the Ikenick Sno-Park. Cross Highway 126 and follow the road down to the resort. From there walk clockwise or counter-clockwise around the lake.
The trail on the west side of the lake is much less interesting than the east side, so don't turn back too soon! Once you cross the footbridge on the south end of the lake, you'll be treated to incredible views of the lake and beyond. If the weather is clear, you'll see snow-capped mountain tops peeking out above the forest.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.