Saunders Lake (Coos)

Reachcode: 17100304000659 | Area: 41.1 acres | Shoreline: 3.1 mi | View on Interactive Map

(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985).  Saunders Lake is one of several lakes in an extensive area of sand dunes on the Oregon coast stretching from North Bend to Florence. It is more visible and more heavily used than most in this area because of its proximity to the Oregon Coast Highway. Along with other nearby lakes (including Horsfall and Beale Lakes in this study) it lies in a forested deflation plain on which the sand is stabilized by a dense growth of shrubs and trees, primarily pine and fir. Active dunal ridges, reaching about 100 feet above sea level, flank the plain on both sides and trend north and south parallel to the coast. There are no perennial streams in the area and the lake is a surface expression of seasonal fluctuations in the water table. Saunders Lake is relatively steep sided so changes in surface area are not as great as at other lakes on the deflation plain. Nevertheless, there is a distinct seasonal pattern. At high stages the lake is often connected to Clear Lake, a small 25-acre lake to the north, and there is also some surface outflow to the west. Ground water aquifers in the area are tapped by the Coos Bay North Bend Water Board for industrial use and that activity has had some effect on lake levels. During the 1976-77 drought the natural level of the lake dropped by several feet. For the most part the shoreline of Saunders Lake is private property with many home sites. 

Local residents probably withdraw some water from the lake for domestic use. There is a short stretch of county owned shoreline at the south end and the Department of Fish and Wildlife has provided a boat launching ramp. Fishing success can be had on Saunders Lake, particularly for cutthroat and rainbow trout in the spring and early summer. Yellow perch are also caught in good numbers. The maximum depth of Saunders Lake is 35 feet, but over half the lake is shallower than 10 feet and there is an extensive growth of water lilies and other macrophytes. However, in spite of this fact and the large number of homes around the shoreline, Saunders Lake has a lower trophic state than most of the other coastal lakes. Secchi disk depth, chlorophyll and phosphorus concentrations all indicate mesotrophic conditions, but quite close to oligotrophic.