Washington/Oregon Lakes w/o IC Engines

I am curious if those in the know could add to this list of lakes in Western Washington and Oregon that do not allow internal combustion engines. My wife and I have really enjoyed being out paddling with the ski-boat crowd but we’re hoping to get out on a medium to small lake that is no ski boat for this weekend.

Here’s the start of the list:

Coldwater Lake (Near Mt. St. Helens, WA)

Merrill Lake (Near Cougar, WA)

Battle Ground Lake (Battle Ground, WA)

Thanks for the info up front, if I find any more I will post them.


Lake Crescent
Check out Lake Crescent. It’s over on the Olympic Peninsula on Hwy 101, not too far from Port Angeles. One of the most beautiful lakes you will see. I was out there in June. Definitely worth the trip.



Waldo Lake, OR
When I paddled there in the 1990s Waldo Lake, OR, was IC free. It’s one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the Cascades and is popular with both canoe and kayak paddlers. It’s also considered as the headwaters of the Willamette River and has an interesting early Oregon history.

Complete listing
for Oregon at www.boatoregon.com. See Waterway Regulations.

Second Waldo lake

– Last Updated: Sep-02-06 8:42 PM EST –


Was there for the first time a few weeks ago. Beautiful area. If convenience camping, recommend Shadow Bay. Less fetch at that end of the lake. Nice sandy beach for put ins. New bathroom facilities, though compost toilets and no sinks or showers.

The stars sparcle in the water on a clear night. Snow capped mountains in the background. Lot's of little coves with sandy beaches scattered throughout, at least for several miles on the East side and North of Shadow bay. On Sunday I stopped at two beaches that I had all to myself, and one where two paddlers pulled in just as I was about ready to leave.

Hiking trails throughout the area. You could get out of your boat almost anywhere and pick up a trail. Also lots of wilderness camping available.

Lots of paddlers during the summer weekends.

Bring Deet if camping. Mosquitos are said to be unbearable in July. Moderate in August, fine with some Deet on at night. August and September are said to be the best months. By late Sept it's possible to get snow up there.

Shallow for a good distance out in the coves. Watch out for slightly submerged rocks when rounding bars between coves.

(Funny beginner story. I saw what I thought was a nutria or something playing in the water. I know to give wild life some distance. I was pretty close when I saw it, and was on a trajectory to pass by at about 25 ft distance so figured I’d just stop paddling and glide by. Scccrruuunch, up I went on a rock. The nutria was actually a slightly submerged rock “playing” in the water. That’s what I get for not taking a hard turn to give it more distance. Probably would have missed it’s buddy.)

Paul S.

IC-less Lakes near Portland
There are a number of Cascade lakes in the Mt. Hood area east of Portland that would fill the bill. Suggest you check with the Mt. Hood Nat’l Forest HQ in Sandy for full info. Most popular and photogenic is Trillium Lake. The Trillium Lake road can be entered from U.S. 26 a couple of miles of Government Camp.

If you don’t need camping facilities you might consider the lakes on Sauvie Island, a large island located where the Willamette and Columbia Rivers meet north of Portland. It is a well known area for migratory water birds and raptors (including bald eagles).

The Columbia Slough, which extends for miles before entering the Columbia River in Northwest Portland. It’s really a narrow winding river that is screened from the sight and sounds of the city by natural vegetation and is maintained in that state by the City of Portland just for canoeists and kayakers.

Check Alder Creek Kayak on Tomahawk Island, Portland, for other good spots.


Lacamas (north end)

The link above has many photos taken at Lacamas Lake in Vancouver, WA. The south end of the lake has motor boats, but if you go to the un-improved launch on the north end, you will enjoy the lake and river without motor boats. It’s a great paddle for being urban.

The launch site is unknown to most, to to where Leadbetter Rd turns into NE232nd Ave and look for two wooden posts. From there it’s about 100 ft. carry to the waters edge.

I also agree with your Cold Water Lake suggestion. I loved paddling to the far end of the lake and playing with the pea sized pebbles on the beach. It’s not often you find rocks that float (grin).


Motorboats OK, no jet skis
Hi - I live by Lake Crescent, and motorboats are allowed - but no jet skis. I paddle there frequently and it is indeed beautiful - boats are usually not a problem.


nic e place, but …
I was there two years ago and it DID have powerboats, albeit with a speed limit.

That’s a good point
Now that you mention it, I think I read that there’s a 10 mph limit. Fishing’s no good because the water is so clear, and you can’t ski at 10 mph, so …

People were talking about a couple power boats that were on the lake Saturday before I got there as if they weren’t supposed to be there. None on Sunday. I got the impression that power boats are there so infrequently that a lot of people think that there are none allowed at all.

Paul S.

Thanks!! Great info.
Thanks Wade! Your photo archive looks very familiar. My wife and I live in La Center and we’ve been thinking about going over to Lacamas sometime after work for the last week or two. We drove out there one day on the way to dinner and made it about half way down the walking trail on the south side of the lake.

I’m curious how you liked the Cowlitz as that is also on our list of ‘to-do’s’ before winter sets in. We really like Cresap Bay on Merwin also…if you haven’t been up there it is a blast on a windy day. The waves pick up a bit at the east end of the lake but the geography of the area blocks most of the wind in the far end of the lake and the trip goes from fun in the surf to glass in about 200 yards. Beautiful sunset there also…

Thanks again for the info and I really liked the photos…great work!


Cowlitz River

We loved the Cowlitz River, we had great launch and takeout sites, I wish I still lived there and I’d take you along.

The put in was under the I-5 bridge and I think it’s the same putin that’s in Phil Jones’ book. We took out about a mile further down river than his suggestion. Much better site. It’s at a fishing beach behind the housing development called “Camelot” (or may it was Excalibre?).

Anyway, we’re now living in Chicago and we really miss the paddling venues in your neck of the woods.

Oh well…


Oregon’s quiet waters …
A guide to the lakes for canoeists and other paddlers.

by Cheryl McLean and Clint Brown, c.1996, Jackson Creek Press, 2150 Jackson Creek Drive, Corvallis, Oregon 97330