Little Lava Lake (Deschutes)

Reachcode: 17070301000867 | Area: 112.0 acres | Shoreline: 2.0 mi | View on Interactive Map

(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985)  Little Lava Lake lies immediately southeast of its larger namesake, Lava Lake, in the Central Oregon Cascades. Lava flows from nearby Bachelor Butte probably changed drainage patterns in the area and the Lava Lakes, as well as others nearby, were formed by the damming effect of these flows. The lake takes its name from this terrain and from the flows clearly visible along the shoreline. Two volcanic peaks, Broken Top and South Sister, are prominent on the skyline to the North. Forest cover around Little Lava Lake is composed mainly of lodgepole pine, with little understory vegetation. Both Lava Lake and Little Lava Lake are relatively "old" lakes as evidenced by the marshy areas around the shoreline, where a rich variety of emergent macrophytes are seen. The largest wetland area is on the east shore and is shown as part of the lake on the bathymetric map. Water in Little Lava Lake is supplied by subsurface springs and, on occasion, there is surface flow from Lava Lake through an open channel. Outflow is into the Deschutes River, and the lake is generally considered the source of this famous Oregon stream. During the severe drought of 1977 no outflow occurred from the lake and springs fed the Deschutes River just downstream from its usual source.

Little Lava Lake does not receive as much recreational use as Lava Lake; still it is quite popular, although the fishing is not considered to be particularly good. Rainbow trout are stocked yearly and brook trout are self-sustaining. Rainbow trout make up most of the catch. There is a Forest Service campground near the outlet of the lake.

The lake basin has a triangular shape, with a maximum depth of only 18 feet. The bottom is covered in most places with thick sediments which support the growth of rushes and other emergent macrophytes at the northern and southern ends of the lake. The chemistry of the water in the lake is very similar to that of Lava Lake, and, except for a sulfate concentration which is a little above average, similar to many other lakes in the Cascades. The concentration of chlorophyl is low, and water transparency is about average. Little Lava Lake is mesotrophic, although the relatively high phosphorus supply causes the lake to approach higher trophic conditions.


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