- Lane County)
(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985) Mink Lake, at 139 acres, is the second largest wilderness lake in the state (Marion is the largest) and one of the most remote. It lies in the southern section of the Three Sisters Wilderness, a high lava plateau area of numerous lakes, ponds, and marshes occupying pockets in the terrain. Trails come into the Mink Lake Basin from many directions, the shortest being seven miles in length. The most common route is probably from the Cascade Lakes Highway through dense forests to Blow and Doris Lakes (2 miles) and then across the Cascade Divide into the Basin. During the summer months the area is a breeding ground for hordes of mosquitoes. Nevertheless, it is a very popular backcountry destination and the effects of considerable use can be seen at the many rustic campsites along the shoreline. Eastern brook trout are taken quite regularly from the lake as are cutthroat and rainbow trout. Trails surround the lake and many other good fishing lakes are found in all directions. Because of the mosquitoes heaviest use is generally in late summer.
Mink Lake is relatively deep and has very little shallow water. The water in the lake is very low in chemical constituents, with a conductivity matched by only two other lakes included in this survey (Waldo Lake and Big Lake). Chlorophyl and total phosphorus concentrations and water transparency indicate that Mink Lake is among the most pristine and oligotrophic lakes in Oregon, and it is classified as ultraoligotrophic. The high elevation and confined drainage area limit the supply of nutrients to the lake. Productivity is low, and fishing is possible primarily because trout are planted in the lake. The oligotrophic nature of Mink Lake makes it vulnerable to disturbance because even small increases in nutrients may reduce water transparency.