Scout Lake – Clatskanie’s secret getaway

scout lake forest trail clatskanie columbia county oregon northwest

In 1934, the Evenson family donated “Scout Lake” and 165 acres of surrounding forest to the City of Clatskanie for the benefit of community youth. Today, it’s one of the most pleasant forest lakes in Columbia County. Most county residents outside of Clatskanie don’t even know Scout Lake exists. So Matt and I decided to make some trips and share what we found.

Scout Lake is primarily a hike-in destination. We parked at a Evenson logging gate on the south end of Olson Road, where they allow walking access to reach the city property. A small fast creek runs alongside the road as you make your way up the first little hill, easier to hear than to see through all the vegetation. I picked from thimbleberry, salmonberry, whitebark raspberry, stink currant, and swamp currant bushes as we walked.

creek scout lake entrance
The stream is back there somewhere

Amphibians are doing well in this forest. We found three Columbia Torrent Salamander populations, along with an abundance of other species.

You can hike to the lake without leaving the logging road, though there are side trails if you prefer something wilder. The beauty of the forest varies depending on the recentness of the cut, but most of the path is quite pleasant. Mountain biking enthusiasts will find about 18 miles of difficult trails scattered through the forest. (Contact Bob at for more information and a map.)

scout lake forest trail clatskanie columbia county oregon northwest
Matt passing some of the older trees in the area

If you divert onto a side trail to the west early on, you will discover a hidden pond full of newts and dragonflies a few hundred yards away.

In fact, this forest holds quite a diversity of fascinating insects. In our homes we think of insects as pests. However, they do essential work outdoors to keep plants and trees pollinated, dead life decomposed, and move the energy cycle from the water to the trees. This is how the forest stays fertilized, and thus insects are a prime sign of a healthy ecosystem.

If you keep your eyes open, you’ll see many of our insects are remarkable. These are just a sampling of the insects we saw in Scout Lake’s forest.

As we continued on the logging roads, we saw new succession stages, some younger and thus a bit less exciting and diverse.

scout lake forest trail clatskanie columbia county oregon northwest

Near the lake I spotted one of the most colorful Pacific Treefrogs we’ve seen.

scout lake forest trail clatskanie columbia county oregon northwest
scout lake northern pacific treefrog clatskanie oregon columbia county

Breaking out onto the lake, we found minimal facilities in a beautiful natural setting.

Though the lake is stocked with trout, I’ve not seen any fishermen. Instead, the local Osprey family appears to be taking more advantage of the fish than people are.

scout lake osprey clatskanie oregon columbia county
Osprey on nest

You can walk around the lake, loop further around on the logging roads, or try the various trails here and there through the forest. We’ve visited in winter, late spring, and early summer, and I think we only saw two other cars parked there in three trips combined.

On our last trip, a visitor bid us goodbye on the way out.

Springflies Subfamily Perlodinae

It’s a blessing to see aquatic insects like springflies and mayflies. Insects seem to be disappearing from much of the world due to pesticides, pollution, development, climate change and habitat loss, but you can still find them hanging on out in the proper Oregon forest.

We’ve only done day hikes, but Scout Lake is also open for fishing. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout, and fishermen must follow all State of Oregon regulations with a limit of 5 fish of at least 8″ each. In addition, the city asks that you release any native Cutthroat Trout you may catch.

For those who wish to drive in, keys to the gate are available at Clatskanie City Hall and can be checked out by those who live within the 97016 area code. Camping is by permit only. Please call City Hall at (503) 728-2622 if you have any questions. Access permit and the full rules and regulations are at this link.

Scout Lake at a glance

What: Hiking, fishing, mountain biking

Where: Turn onto Swedetown Road south from Highway 30 at the east end of Clatskanie. Take the first right onto Olson Road and go 2.8 miles south on Olson Road until you reach a locked gate at 46.0653, -123.1784. It is 2.1 miles from the gate to the lake at 46.0429, -123.1775.

Directions to Scout Lake clatskanie oregon
Directions to Scout Lake (Click here for Google Maps directions)

Hiking: Network of logging roads with some trails as well.

Camping: primitive camping available by permit

Notable Wildlife: Osprey, waterfowl, pond amphibians, insects

Property status: Lake and the immediate surrounding area are owned by the City of Clatskanie. The larger area belongs to Evenson Logging.

Website: Scout Lake Recreation Area

Published by Jonathan

Educator, Herpetologist, Hiker.

6 thoughts on “Scout Lake – Clatskanie’s secret getaway

    1. There hasn’t been any news yet at all, nor did we expect any news this early. We assume everything is still being processed, I’m guessing there will be some sort of news within three months.


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