We never expected to find emerald water like this in the Beaver State. But the name is not misleading. Oregon's Clear Lake is not only beautiful but also includes a magical sunken forest beneath its crystal clear water.

During clear days, you can see over 200 feet down to the bottom of the lake!

You'll find it nestled deep within the Williamette National Forest, one of the state's most lush escapes. 

To get to the lake, you'll start out at Clear Lake Loop and hike an easy 4.6 mile trail. Since it's pretty flat the whole way, it's perfect for beginners.

All along the trail, you'll catch gorgeous glimpses of the McKenzie River and enjoy plenty of shade from the tall evergreen trees around you.

If you're looking to swim, the best time to come is during the summer when the water warms up. 

This spring-fed lake was formed 3,000 years ago by a lava overflow from a nearby volcano that poured into the McKenzie River, forming a lake from the backed up water.

The old forest that lined the river's banks was submerged beneath lava. Today, the remnants of those trees stand underneath 120 feet of ice cold turqouise water.

Now, you can explore it all.

When you reach the shores, stop and take a moment to breathe it all in. 

The water is so clear!

It's the perfect place to post up and have a picnic. If you'd like, you can also take your own boat out on the lake for a $5 fee or rent a rowboat.

And of course, swimming is allowed.

But be warned - the water is icy cold. It is recommended to just take a dip or bring a wetsuit to wear over your swimsuit.

Either way, make sure to take plenty of photos. Where else can you go swimming in a submerged underwater forest?

If you'd like to extend your stay, you can even rent a cabin on-site. With a view like this, it could be just the motivation you need to become an early riser.

Clear Lake Loop Trail

Price: $10 / 5 days or $35 / year.

Why You Should Go: You can swim in a sunken forest with crystal-clear emerald water.


We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.

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