Lake Abert, Oregon
I finally got a chance to visit Lake Abert last fall. I had been wondering about it for years having noticed it on maps and satellite images. It's a big lake, extending 15 miles north to south and 7 miles wide east to west. Along the east side of the lake the Abert Rim rises 2,500 feet. In many places the Rim is a shear cliff. There are no settlements on it's shores and no parks or services nearby. Lake Abert and Abert Rim are stunning, majestic, unique and if you visit, the only people you're likely to see will be in the occasional car or truck passing on highway 395.
Lake Abert is an alkali salt lake. It's too salty for fish but brine shrimp thrive in it and they in turn support a large population of birds. Because of the lake’s extreme alkalinity, the water will burn skin after extended contact. The land around the lake is dry semi desert and mostly uninhabited. Highway 395 hugs the lakes Eastern shore. I'm not sure that the Western shore is accessible at all. The unpaved road that follows the Western shoreline appears to be barely a trail and I don't know if it's on a public right of way. There are many places to pull off 395 and park along the shore. There aren't many established trails but it's easy to walk down to the lake shore. The lake is very shallow and grows and shrinks in size considerably depending on recent rainfall. I found directions for a quick but strenuous scramble up the rim here: Abert Rim hike. I did not go up but would love to go back some day. Much of the land around the lake is managed by the BLM. They have some information here: BLM Abert Lake page.
It's kind of a shame that there aren't any developed parks or campgrounds around Lake Abert. It's such a uniquely beautiful place. Of course part of why I liked it was how empty, undeveloped and remote it is. The closest city of any size is Bend about three hours drive away. Portland is 6 hours away and Ashland is around 5.
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