Breitenbush River & Detroit Lake, Oregon
Through the Mount Jefferson Wilderness of the enchanting Cascades of Central Oregon lies a spiritual river known as the Breitenbush. It spurs off the North Santiam River in western Oregon, draining one of Oregon’s most rugged Cascadian forests just east of Salem. The Breitenbush River comes from several short forks, and it is the South Fork Breitenbush River that begins with creeks from Bays and Russell Lake at the elevation of 6,000 ft flowing West-Northwest. The North Fork Breitenbush River is the most popular as it begins at Breitenbush Lake, joining with another fork passing by Pyramid Lake, and is where the infamous Breitenbush Hotsprings reside. The North and South forks flow together just east of the community of Breitenbush, where they weave together in a wrapping, twisting rhythm of love. Where they join the North Santiam at Detroit, and its lower 2 miles cut what is now Detroit Lake, which is created by the Detroit Dam. Detroit Lake is a reservoir created by the Detroit Dam on the North Santiam River. It’s located roughly 46 miles southeast of Oregon’s capital city – Salem. The lake rests atop the old historical roadbed of the former Oregon Pacific Railroad, which was built by Colonel T. Egenton Hogg. However, due to funding issues, the line never made it past Idanha, which was southeast of the lake. The lake was created in 1953 with the completion of the dam, washing out where the railroad sat, now holding 455,000 acre-feet of water when full. This 9-mile (14 km) long lake has a shoreline of 32 miles (51 km) when full. It’s a very popular location for watersports, swimming, jet-skiing, water-skiing, fishing, and boating. Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife stock the dam with over 125,000 catchable rainbow trout, fingerling rainbow, kokanee, and chinook salmon. The lake itself breeds a large population of brown bullhead catfish. Detroit Lake is designated as one of the 32 lakes in the United States for recreation as managed by the U.S. Forestry Service. At a surface elevation of 1,450 feet, the lake can seasonally rise to 1,569 feet. Definitely a lake I’d like to spend more time in the future. Beautiful. The hotspot of the area is Breitenbush Hot Springs.
Big Cliff / Detroit Lake and Dam: