Oregon supreme court justice John Breckenridge Waldo (1844–1907), an early advocate for the preservation of the Cascade Range, made a horse-pack trip down the crest of the range from Mount Hood to California in 1888. This namesake wilderness protects the watershed that feeds the crystalline waters of Waldo Lake, considered one of the clearest and purest water bodies in the West. Anyone who has ever canoed or kayaked it will attest to the quality of floating on cobalt-blue air that the lake affords. More than 400 feet deep, the lake is so pure that it’s possible to see more than 120 feet down into the water. The clarity is a result of its very low productivity— there are few nutrients in the lake to support microscopic plants and animals. Indeed, according to Oregon Health Department, you can drink directly from the 6,700-acre lake. This trail guide contains six trails ranging from 1.5 to 22 miles in length.
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