- Lane County)
(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985) Situated high in the Cascade Mountains between Odell and Waldo Lakes is Gold Lake, one of the scenic and botanical treasures of the Willamette National Forest. It is adjacent to one of the finest examples of a subalpine sphagnum bog in the Cascades. To assure the preservation of this prime wetland and its rare vegetation, a 463-acre tract extending upstream from the lake was dedicated in 1965 as the Gold Lake Bog Research National Area. Formal permission to visit the R.N.A. is required, and inquiries can be made at the District Ranger Station in Oakridge.
The lake itself is a fairly popular recreation site and is considered a good trout lake. Fishing is restricted to fly-angling and no motorboats are allowed. Brook trout and rainbow trout are taken. These species are stocked, but appear to maintain themselves well because of the short fishing season and the restrictions on tackle. Tributaries of the lake are closed to fishing as is the outlet stream. A good Forest Service campground is located on the shore near the outlet.
Surface inflow is primarily from Salt Creek which passes through the bog before entering the lake. Springs along the northern side of the lake also contribute to surface inflow. Salt Creek, the outlet stream, is a tributary of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River, joining it 28 miles downstream from Gold Lake. Several beaver dams in the area are effective in maintaining water levels in the lake and adjacent bog. The drainage basin is underlain by andesite basalt, typical of this portion of the High Cascades, and covered by wind-blown deposits of ash and pumice. In the low-lying areas deep, organic soil profiles have developed. Engleman spruce and subalpine fir surround much of the lake and bog, while mountain hemlock and subalpine fir dominate the steep ridges that parallel the lake on both sides.
The lake basin has a simple oval shape with a single deep area along the southeastern edge. Although it is not very deep, the water column develops a distinct temperature stratification with very cold water persisting below 20 feet (6 meters) in summer. The water in the lake is low in major ion concentrations, but not as low as nearby Waldo Lake and several other Cascade lakes. Drainage through the bog area into Gold Lake clearly influences these characteristics. Although the water in the lake is transparent, it has a definite brownish cast caused by organic matter drained from the bog. In fact, this color often appears to be gold and may well be the origin of the name of the lake. Dissolved oxygen becomes depleted in the bottom water, further indicating a direct influence of bog drainage. Phosphorus and chlorophyll concentrations suggest mesotrophic conditions. Gold Lake is more productive than most Cascade lakes but is certainly not eutrophic. Two species of blue-green algae were observed on 7/18/82: Gloeotrichia echinulata and Anabaena sp., as well as the planktonic rotifer Conochilus unicornis.