A quiet hike through Oregon’s old-growth forests is inevitably a meditative experience. One just has to be sure to find a less-trekked spot of wilderness. There’s no shortage of those in this wild and wooded state, but a real gem of a hike is Memaloose Lake.
Beautiful in the summer, this stretch of woods is elevated to spectacular in the winter, especially if a layer of snow is thick on the ground and trees. It’s an easy, there-and-back hike, best accessible in the spring through fall season. Experienced snowshoes/winter hikers with the right vehicle can also visit in the winter months.
Memaloose Lake is located in the Clackamas Wilderness of Mt. Hood National Forest, about an hour’s drive from Portland. The trail begins at Forest Road 45, and follows on through an old-growth forest for about a mile before turning into a series of gentle switchbacks. Another half-mile in and hikers will encounter a small cascading falls (more prominent in the wet seasons). Just down the trail is the lake itself.
In the summer, this is a terrific spot to take a swim. In the winter when the snow is thick, the lake is cold, quick possibly iced-over, and peaceful. Set up camp close to here at one of the primitive sites to the left of the lake, or continue up the South Fork trail to the campsites another mile in.
Note that a $10 wilderness permit is required to enter this area from May 15 through Oct. 15. Permits are self-issued at the trailhead. Please use extreme caution when traveling the mountain roads in the winter months, and only do so with a vehicle equipped for such a drive.
Directions from Estacada:
Take the Estacada Bridge (Junction of Hwy 211 and Hwy 224) to Molalla. Travel 4.7 mile and turn left on Hillockburn Road. It’s 23 miles from here to the Memloose Lake trailhead. Note that Hillockburn Road turns into FS RD 45 at the forest boundary. The trailhead can be hard to find, but is marked.
Click the Learn More button for more details and a trail map from the Forest Service. Happy trails!