For over a decade now, I’ve have shyed away from visiting and writing about Marion Lake, in all probability the most well liked alpine pool within the Mount Jefferson Wasteland.

The rationale was once easy — everyone and their mother is aware of about it. A era of Oregonians grew up mountain climbing to this 360-acre lake to fish and camp.

However with a allow gadget that limits crowding in position — and with the season coming to an finish — I determined it was once in any case time to dive into a spot that has such a lot of issues in a single position, from waterfall searching to mountain mountain climbing to wildfire scar exploring.

Snow will duvet this house within the subsequent month, so call to mind this as a information to sneak up there for one ultimate outing or plan a extra vintage summer season outing for subsequent 12 months. I explored the world with my canine Comet in past due October, right through the strangely heat and dry stretch. It is going to glance lovely other now.

You’ll desire a allow to hike or backpack right here between June 15 to Oct. 15. Within the low season, like at this time, the street and trailhead at 3,300 toes can be lined with snow, but if precisely that occurs is still noticed. Nowadays October, it’s open however there may be some snow at or above 4,000 toes close to the lake.

The milage and issue of this outing is determined by which adventures you are taking on, however in most cases, it’s 6 miles round-trip to Marion Lake with 800 toes of climb (reasonable issue). When you upload the really helpful climb up Marion Mountain, it’s about 11.5 to twelve miles with proper round 2,000 toes of climb (strenuous issue).

A lake, mountain and waterfall named for the ‘swamp fox’

The most efficient factor about Marion Lake is that it has such a lot packed into one vacation spot. A most commonly simple hike of three miles brings you to the long-lasting lake, however facet journeys to a close-by waterfall and a mountain summit make this outing one in all Oregon’s perfect.

The humorous factor is, all 3 puts have the similar title. Marion Lake, Marion Falls and Marion Mountain are all named for a man who by no means visited Oregon. The person in query is Innovative Battle hero Francis Marion, who was once referred to as the “swamp fox” for pioneering using guerrilla conflict.

As for why the title Marion is so fashionable — it contains Marion County as effectively — it was once it appears as a result of Oregon pioneers had been enchanted through a guide about Marion’s existence that was once “in large part learn in Oregon and different frontier settlements, and the reward of Marion on this guide very much appealed to the settlers,” in keeping with the guide “Oregon Geographic Names.”

First forestall: Semi-hidden Marion and Gatch Falls

The hike into the Marion Lake house is simple. From the trailhead, simply observe the path 2.2 miles to a junction. From there, one path is going left to the northwest nook of the lake, whilst any other, Marion Lake Outlet Path, follows Marion Creek to the southwest nook of the lake.

To seek advice from impressive Marion Falls, cross proper and only a few hundred yards thereafter — and effectively ahead of you succeed in the lake — you’ll see a person path at the proper. It is unofficially marked however arduous to omit (until it is lined in snow). The path fees into the woodland and towards the creek. After lower than 1 / 4 mile, the path is going over a upward thrust and to the highest of Marion Falls, a dramatic 90-foot waterfall. An excessively steep and sketchy path leads right down to the bottom of the falls in a misty grotto. Slightly under, any other waterfall tumbles off a cliff — 60-foot Gatch Falls. A good sketchier path results in a view of that one. Each trails are very steep and it will be simple to get injured as they get muddy or snowy.

Many waterfall hunters call to mind this as one waterfall, with an higher and decrease tier. However the two names persist partly on account of a unusual naming dispute. It isn’t price litigating right here, however if you wish to dive into the naming dispute between Gatch and Gooch falls, this publish in Northwest Waterfall Survey lovely effectively covers it.

2nd forestall: Marion Mountain view and wildfire scars

After the waterfall forestall, go back to the path and observe it to any other junction on the excessive northwest nook of Marion Lake. Right here, you’ll have a option to make: benefit from the lake or tackle a climb to the highest of Marion Mountain.

From the lake, it’s about 5 miles round-trip with 1,200 toes of climb to the highest of the mountain and backpedal to the lake. You’ll additionally need a map, as a result of whilst the junctions are well-marked, you are taking 3 other trails to the highest. If you have got the power, it is profitable as a result of it is some of the perfect perspectives within the Jefferson Wasteland.

On the first junction — on the Marion Lake outlet — flip proper onto Blue Lake Path, which climbs steeply above the lake for a mile to any other junction. Then, flip proper on Pine Ridge Path, which climbs much less aggressively any other 0.8 miles, to a last junction, the place you head left up Marion Mountain Path, any other 0.9 miles.

The highest was once as soon as a fireplace lookout website, and what a sight it’s. Mount Jefferson rises dramatically above Marion Lake to the north, whilst at the different facet 3 Fingered Jack rises within the south.

The view provides an overhead take a look at the wildfire scars that you simply hiked via at the approach up — and the cause of the loss of colour en course. There are in fact 3 wildfires that burned on this house: the 2002 Mount Marion Hearth, 2003 B&B Advanced, 2006 Puzzle Hearth (at the a ways facet of Marion Lake) and the 2015 Marion Hearth.

Apparently, whilst this house has noticed many fires, it is in fact in fairly higher form on the subject of regeneration than different puts within the Jefferson Wasteland, such because the 8 Lakes Basin, which was once torched through the B&B Advanced, and portions of the northern Jefferson Wasteland, which was once burned through the more moderen 2017 Whitewater and 2020 Lionshead fires.

Extra:Fifteen years in the past, a titanic wildfire in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains endlessly modified how we view wildfires

Extra:Jefferson Park nonetheless magical two years after Lionshead Hearth, however visiting extra complicated

3rd forestall: Marion Lake fishing, tenting and swimming

Marion Lake has been a hectic spot for a very long time. Along with local populations who’d seek advice from the lake for a millennia, through the early twentieth century, “intensive construction” was once deliberate for the lake in 1913. Whilst maximum of the ones plans by no means took place, the lake did turn out to be the website of cabins, a guard station, and, in 1954, a boathouse that moored 140 boats.

The boats and constructions had been step by step got rid of after passage of regulations developing the Mount Jefferson Wasteland in 1968.

Fishing has lengthy been essentially the most liked interest at Marion. When the lake was once first surveyed in 1932, it had a inhabitants of cutthroat trout. Over the years, brook and rainbow trout had been stocked as effectively and had been a success because of the lake’s measurement and abundance of meals. Nowadays, each rainbow and brook trout are stuck regularly.

I’d be the fallacious individual to invite about total fishing methods right here, however the fishing does appear to are living as much as the hype. Over a couple of afternoon hours in mid-October, I stuck two nice-sized brook trout and simply ignored two extra.

The lake is 180 toes deep and within the warmth of summer season the fishing is it appears harder from the shore, prompting some to hike small boats into the lake, which sounds each laborious and a large number of a laugh.

So far as tenting is going, no campfires are allowed any place across the lake, and there are huge swaths of the lakeshore which can be open to day-use most effective, which means you’ll need to perform a little further paintings to seek out websites for the evening.

Overdue autumn and wintry weather adventures

Probably the most pleasant issues concerning the Marion Lake Trailhead is that at 3,350 toes, it’s a little less than different trailheads. That implies that relying on stipulations, you’ll steadily get right of entry to this house past due into autumn or early wintry weather and hike up into the snow.

The want to watch out right through the low season is plain, nevertheless it additionally will give you the risk to discover the world with extra solitude and points of interest than right through the prime summer time.

That point an plane landed within the lake

About six years in the past, out of doors creator Invoice Sullivan wrote this about Marion Lake in a tale for the Statesman Magazine, a couple of dramatic airplane crash on the lake just below 10 years in the past.  

“When you have been status in this peninsula on Aug. 18, 2013, you might want to have watched a Cessna plane sputter, lose altitude and crash into Marion Lake.

“The pilot, 28-year-old Trevor Schultz of Lebanon, had taken 3 pals for a trip within the antique 1961 plane that he had lovingly restored. When the engine died, he skillfully stalled the airplane so it hit the lake floor at an overly low pace. Even supposing it sank inside of mins, all 4 passengers controlled to flee and swim to shore. A Salem Boy Scout troop that had camped close by hiked them out to the trailhead.

“Ten days later, the U.S. Woodland Provider had a helicopter elevate the sunken airplane and fly it to the trailhead.”

Marion Lake

In a nutshell: Massive mountain lake within the Mount Jefferson Wasteland.

Hike: 6 miles round-trip to waterfall and lake; 11.5 to twelve miles to Marion Mountain

Issue: Average to lake and waterfall, strenuous to Marion Mountain

Crimson tape: Day-use and in a single day allow required from June 15 to Oct. 15 on by the use of the Central Cascades Wasteland allow gadget

Trailhead: Marion Lake Trailhead, about 90 mins from Salem

Zach Urness has been an outside reporter in Oregon for 15 years and is host of the Discover Oregon Podcast. To fortify his paintings, subscribe to the Statesman Magazine. Urness is the creator of “Best possible Hikes with Youngsters: Oregon” and “Mountain climbing Southern Oregon.” He can also be reached at [email protected] or 503-399-6801. To find him on Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.

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