Little Cultus Lake
- Deschutes County)
(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985) Little Cultus Lake is one of the many beautiful mountain lakes on the east slope of the Cascades which are accessible from the popular Cascade Lakes Highway. The lake can be reached by a gravel road from the highway or by trail south from Cultus Lake. The word Cultus is a Chinook jargon word meaning bad or worthless. It has been used in many places in the Pacific Northwest, generally by pioneers who lacked one or more of the essentials -- wood, water, and grass. However, there seems to be no specific reason for its application to either Cultus or Little Cultus Lake.
Little Cultus lies in an elongated basin in a glacial-scoured valley, and is oriented on an east-west axis. Nearly half the lake is shallower than 10 feet; but the maximum depth, located near the western end, is over 50 feet. Several unnamed streams provide inflow to the lake; the outlet is Deer Creek which flows into Crane Prairie Reservoir, a Bureau of Reclamation storage facility. A dense coniferous forest covers the landscape in the drainage basin and the dominant feature is Cultus Mountain, a symmetrical volcanic cone rising abruptly on the north side of the lake. A quiet Forest Service campground is located on the south side of the lake and a 10 mph speed limit for boats is enforced. Fishing in Little Cultus Lake is fair for brook trout and a few rainbow trout, although it is not as good as in Cultus Lake.
Concentrations of ions in the water are low, but noticeably higher than in Cultus Lake. The concentrations of chlorophyl and phosphorus are moderate, and water transparency is average. Little Cultus Lake is oligotrophic, tending to mesotrophic, in contrast to ultraoligotrophic Cultus Lake.