Circumnavigate Waldo Lake

Mar 30, 2021 | Central Oregon, Hiking, Oregon

Land acknowledgement:

Ancestral land of the Molala and Kalapuya; now part of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde

At a Glance

22 miles, 1000 feet of elevation gain (approx)
FKT Information (none as of 4/2021)
Entry point: Shadow Bay Day Use area (there is a larger lot for overnight parking)
Entry also possible from North Waldo Trailhead (also known as the Jim Weaver trailhead)

Other Adventure options

Mellow: Hike from the North Waldo campground out to the headwaters of the Willamette River through the burn scar, enjoying lunch at the halfway point.

Balanced: Several camping spots available to stretch this trip out for backpacking. Don’t forget to pick up your self-issued wilderness pass before heading out.

Epic: Hike or ride the entire loop in a day and finish with a swim in the crystal clear waters of the lake.

Need to Know

Parking pass required: Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful

While the Forest Service information on this area references the new Central Oregon Wilderness permit system, this area is not included in these restrictions for now.

Overnight camping permit required: Self issued wilderness permit (fill out at wilderness entry point)

Day permits: Self issued wilderness permit (fill out at wilderness entry point)

Water: Limited sources but water is available in the campgrounds and at the headwaters of the Willamette. Plan on carrying sufficient water and a water filter.

Nearest Campgrounds: North Waldo, Islet, Shadow Bay

Adventure Overview

Please: Always remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles when recreating on public land. Our actions not only impact the land; they influence others to better care for these lands when we lead by example. Please see additional route cautions at the bottom of this page.

This is one of those classic routes that suffer from a bad reputation because of the vicious mosquitoes that haunt the lake for most of the summer. Have no doubt – those blood thirsty suckers will eat you alive if you go too early, but once summer sets in, this is a classic adventure with so much to offer. Crystal blue waters, a mellow trail, and gorgeous forests are a perfect backdrop to a mountain bike ride, a long trail run or an overnight adventure. Dispersed camping is allowed around the lake, and you are sure to see a lot of other folks taking advantage of the excellent recreation this loop offers.

Terms of Use: As with each adventure guide published on, should you choose to use this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While using, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed., its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual users hiking or following this route.

About The Author

About The Author

Teri Smith is starting her third act as a photographer, writer and adventure seeker in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more here.