Laurance Lake: Cool, clear and full of fun

It’s only fitting to start this month-long series with a place that will forever be ingrained in the hearts and memories of anyone who spent their childhood years cooling off on the doorstep of Mount Hood, trolling for trout in the warm breeze, combing the shallows for crawdads, pitching tents and building campfires, roasting marshmallows over glowing coals, falling asleep with pitch and pine needles stuck to your feet and waking up at sunrise to the smell pancakes and bacon and the joy of having nothing to do but relax and enjoy another day at Laurance Lake.

About 10 minutes south of downtown Parkdale (Clear Creek Road to Laurance Lake Road), Laurance Lake is a reservoir for Middle Fork Irrigation District, which serves customers in the greater Parkdale area. Fed by the Clear Branch of the Middle Fork of the Hood River, the lake is clean, clear and cool all year, and although water levels can drop significantly in the late summer as temperatures and irrigation needs rise, there’s always enough of water for swimming, fishing, boating, paddling and various other cooling-off activities.

Laurance is also (arguably) the best fly-fishing lake around Mount Hood, due largely to the fact that angling regulations don’t allow bait or artificial bait or the keeping/killing of native fish. The lake is also stocked with rainbow trout at least twice a season by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The orientation of the lake and its adjacent canyons tend to funnel west winds in the summer, which helps keep temps down on hot summer days but can frustrate boaters and fisherman and keep folks floating on air mattresses, tubes and inflatable crocodiles busy paddling away from the rock dam at the east end of the lake. The wind is often strong enough, for those so inclined, to sail, windsurf or kiteboard in the long, narrow section of the lake.

A small campground at the southern end of the lake has several walk-in and a few drive-in sites for $12 per unit and day-use fees for the lake apply to anywhere beyond the bridge at the entrance of the campground.

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners