The Magical Lake That Disappears Every Winter

The Magical Lake That Disappears Every Winter

In the mountains of Oregon – about two hours southeast of Portland – lies a very mysterious lake. The shallow lake is surrounded by pine trees that sits near the highway. The thing that keeps this lake mysterious is that, it disappears once a year during the dry summer months, then reappears during the wetter seasons. Hence, it is called, The Lost Lake due to its magical vanishing act.

The Magical Lake That Disappears Every Winter

According to, Jude McHugh,the Willamette National Forest Spokesman, the hole has been there as long as anyone can remember. The lake is formed because of the open lava tube, a geographic feature found scattered across the region. Lava tubes are formed when flowing lava hardens near the surface but continues to flow downhill closer to the still-hot interior. If the interior lava flows out before hardening, it leaves behind a tunnel-like structure — a lava tube — that can be open to the surface immediately following an eruption or be opened to the sky through erosion.

The Magical Lake That Disappears Every Winter

McHugh added that, it is unknown whether the water flowing into the hole travels to an outlet but it most likely seeps into the porous subsurface below, recharging the massive aquifer that feeds springs on both sides of the Cascades.

It fills up in the winter, when input exceeds the rate of draining, and then it goes dry and it’s a meadow,” McHugh said.

Lost Lake is emptied in the winter when the snowpack of Oregon’s mountains freezes, depriving the lake of its inflow. In the summer when the snow melts, it fills back up again. 

McHugh said, that there have been a number of unauthorized efforts to plug up the hole at Lost Lake over the years. U.S. Forest Service personnel have found car parts, engines and other debris in the hole, presumably dumped there in an attempt to stop water from draining away. Due to these, throwing anything into the hole is strongly discouraged.

If anyone was ever successful at plugging it — which we’re not sure they could do — it would just result in the lake flooding, and the road, it’s an important part of how the road was designed,” she said.

Although mysterious and romantic, Lost Lake is not the only body of water in Oregon lost and found again as the seasons turn, turn, turn. Fish Lake is emptied by a lava tube as well — but the question is, Who wants to go there?

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