As you hike along the four mile Clear Lake Trail, you'll discover a diverse landscape. This landscape is very different from what it was 3,000 years ago. At that time there was no lake, only a densely forested drainage dissected by a rumbling white water river.
About 1,000 b.C., Sand Mountain erupted. Lava flowed out toward what is now called the McKenzie River and burned the forest as it moved. When the lava reached the river and struck the cold water, it stopped. The McKenzie quickly backed up behind the wall of lava and Clear Lake was formed. The forest that had lined the riverbanks was submerged under 120 feet of water. Remnants of these trees still stand today incredibly preserved in the depths of the near freezing temperature of the lake.
New ecosystems were created by the eruption, which providd habitat for new wildlife species. Fish species that had lived in the river had to adapt to life in the newly formed lake. Different kinds of vegetation took root along the lake shore and also in the cooled lave fields.
Clear Lake is on the upper McKenzie River and is generally considered the headwaters of the McKenzie river. Clear Lake is actually fed by numerous springs...Great Springs, Fish Lake creek, and Ikenick Creek. The water of Clear Lake is exceptionally clear and one can see nearly 100 feet to the bottom.