- Linn County)
(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985) Mowich Lake is a beautiful backcountry lake high in the Central Oregon Cascades, the largest lake in that portion of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness known as the Eight Lakes Basin. It is approached by hikers from either of two directions; the most popular route is via the Duffy Lake Trail, five miles from the Santiam Highway; the other route is via Marion Lake from the north. The word Mowich is a Chinook jargon word meaning deer and it has been applied to a number of geographic features in Oregon, although it is not known who applied the name to this lake. However, it is appropriate; the sampling crew on this project startled several deer near the lake.
Mowich Lake lies in a glaciated basin at an altitude of 5077 feet. Topographic relief in the drainage basin is moderate, except to the southeast where Three Fingered Jack rises 3000 feet above the lake and dominates the landscape. A dense coniferous forest blankets the slopes below timberline and extends to the water's edge. Despite being in a designated wilderness, there are some improvements around the lake such as picnic tables and toilets on the east shore.
Mowich Lake is oval in shape and has a large island at the shallow, northern end and deep water at the southern end. In spite of the shallow water, there is no significant growth of rooted macrophytes. Water in the lake is extremely low in major ion concentrations; alkalinity and conductivity are among the lowest for any lake in Oregon. Phosphorus and chlorophyl concentrations are very low, and the bottom is visible even at the deepest point in the lake (52 feet; 16 meters). Mowich Lake is pristine and ultraoligotrophic with very little biological productivity. The trout fishery is maintained only by regular stocking by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.