Thursday, September 3, 2015

Paulina Lake Circuit (Oregon)

On the fourth day of hiking in Oregon, Wednesday, August 12, it was time to take a break from elevation gain but still hike in a scenic place.  The 8.5 mile loop around Paulina Lake fit the bill to a tee!

Paulina Lake is in the caldera of a volcano, and there is plenty of volcanic activity in the area.  We even hiked up and past a collapsed volcanic rim, and we found areas of obsidian, which is jet black volcanic glass.  And while we almost always had great scenery, we only gained about 600 feet for the trip.  This map shows our track, in a counter clockwise direction, starting and ending at the purple star.  Can you see the small crater that we hiked along?  It is southeast of the lake where the trail meanders away from the lake.  It was covered by trees.

There were six of us on the hike, and it was a fun group.  We were in the van together about 3.5 hours coming and going - it was the longest drive I had all week to the trailhead.  Most of the people slept on the way back to camp.

After three straight days hiking in the mountains, I really was looking forward to the hike around the volcanic lake.  The crater formed by the volcano exploding is called the caldera, and someone told me that a lake in a caldera, Yellowstone Lake being an outstanding example, is called a caldron.

For the first couple of miles of hiking, we saw a lot of use by campers and boaters.  It is a very popular recreation area.  I saw a number of great campsites, all with water access, along the way.

There is something about hiking along a beautiful lakeshore.

In a couple of sections, we climbed a bit, and got some really nice views looking down.

Here is a big chunk of obsidian, volcanic glass.  People used to make tools and trade it.  It is amazing stuff - hard as flint, jet black, shines like diamonds, cuts like a knife.

More lakeshore views, as we neared a great spot for lunch back down by the lake.  A couple of us went in for a swim, and I soaked my feet.

It's hard to see them, but there was a group of several dozen mergansers fishing out in the lake.

I didn't go inside, but I have a feeling that this would be a great place to be for a meal with a view.

Other than the long drive - I was the driver on the way back so could not nap - this was a perfect day of being out in the great outdoors.  It was another fabulous day on the Oregon trails!


  1. Oh what a beautiful lake.
    The obsidian is so pretty. Do they make jewelery out of it?

  2. I loved walking around that lake. It is beautiful. Lots of people having fun there. I think they make obsidian into jewelry. You are not supposed to collect it in federal land, but on another hike, I saw thousands of little pieces along the trail - many of which would have been perfect for jewelry.