Pelham Lake at the base of Lava Mountain can be visited directly by quad or by a short walk from a parking lot. We visited it just to add it to the books and found it to be pleasant and interesting.
➻ Quick Facts
My wife was pregnant but wanted to get out for a neature (because nature is neat) walk nearby. We hopped over Togwotee Pass to take a gander at Pelham Lake after church one Sunday.
⤑A Neature Walk to Pelham Lake
The road to get to Pelham Lake was easily navigable from the main highway and wouldn’t even required 4×4. It took us only a short time to get from pavement to the trailhead, where we found a few vehicles parked, and saw a man walking up the OHV trail toward the lake. After getting enough sunblock and mosquito repellent to coat a small herd of elephants, we marched…into the forest!
My daughter had just turned 8 and I wanted to get her more used to off-trail hiking and navigation. I showed her a couple of small ponds and then we made our way uphill and broke out on a rocky OHV trail covered with lava rock. The trail overlooked Pelham Lake, and we found it much prettier than we expected. Lava Mountain provided a nice backdrop, if not truly a beautiful one. As a sidenote, the previous year I had approved the decommissioning of the Lava Mountain AWOS. Despite the valuable weather data it provided, the remote and inhospitable location, especially during winter, made its upkeep difficult.
A few older people were fishing at the lake, but intense wind made casting their flies nearly impossible. Use trails went all around the shore, and to the north, across the outlet, we saw some prime camping spots. Despite being in the heat of summer, only the few old gentlemen were there. One of the men talked to us and was exceptionally pleasant, remarking that despite the wind, it was still a nice day to be out. We all agreed. Yue Little found herself engrossed in collecting scoria, to a degree such that we had to put a limit on how many rocks she was allowed to put in her backpack…and in my backpack. I was glad to see her wanting to collect, though. As a rockhound myself, it’s nice to see the little one taking a great interest in it. Even better, she likes all sorts of rocks, and not just fossils or gemstones.
The lakeside itself had numerous level spots, but it appeared that the northern section had the best places for camping, if not for fishing. Given the wind, we didn’t fish, so I can’t comment on that. From the southern shores, the Pinnacle Buttes provided an awesome vista. My wife had never been across the way to Brooks Lake, so after about 15 minutes we headed back to the Jeep, but this time via the OHV trail. It’s an incredibly brief walk to get there, so there’s really no great need for an OHV, unless you’re packing in a huge, multi-person/multi-room tent.
Afterward I took my family to see Brooks Lake. I’d hiked that area before and really only have Kissinger Lakes left (or Kissfinger, as my child calls them) to explore. I still haven’t done that due to trail 807.1A (or whatever it’s called) saying it’s closed, the numerous grizzlies marauding around, and the toxic blue-green algae. The cyanobacteria is present at all the lakes in the area, including Pelham, at least per a notice. This severely limits my desire to do much more than look at the places.
➤Conclusion and Rating
We liked this little neature walk. I wouldn’t really recommend it, but if you’re in the area and interested in the volcanic remnants, it’s fun enough.
- My scientific rating system. We enjoyed this neature walk.
- Beauty. There were great views of the Pinnacle Buttes.
- Camping spots. We saw plenty of places to camp, though no one camping.
- Crowds. Only a few people despite the time of year and short distance to be hiked.
- Difficulty. A pregnant woman can do it.
- Fishing. Present, but I can’t comment.
- History. Nothing really cool on that front.