Silver Lake (Cowlitz County), Washington, USA
Silver Lake is a shallow 3,000-acre wetland lake located in southwest Washington. Formed by an early eruption of Mount St. Helens, which permanently dammed Silver Creek and formed the lake, the scenic Silver Lake area now offers an abundance of outdoor activities, including camping, hunting, and fishing. Additionally, the Pacific Ocean is just 90 minutes west and skiing and other wilderness activities are all within an hour away.
With four miles of meandering shoreline, Silver Lake has much to offer when it comes to recreation. Seaquest State Park, a 475-acre, year-round camping park, claims over a mile of Silver Lake’s shoreline on the western curve of the lake. The beautifully forested park offers visitors miles of trails for hiking and bicycling and spectacular views of wildlife. There are also children’s playgrounds and sports fields. Great seasonal fishing, boating and swimming are available on Silver Lake. For those who like to camp, there are tent campsites and trailer sites. Other amenities include picnic sites, a covered shelter, campfire rings, horseshoe pits, and a group camp area with three Adirondack-type shelters. RV owners will find easy pull-through spaces, reliable shore power, and comfortable facilities. The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Interpretive Center is across from the park entrance. The center focuses on information about the volcano and features a short film of the 1980 eruption.
When it comes to fishing, Silver Lake is one of the best largemouth bass lakes in western Washington. Other sport fish inhabitants include rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, crappie, catfish, yellow perch, bluegill, and carp. Public boat launches can be found in Seaquest State Park, and many vacation rentals on the lake offer launches and docks. Fly fishermen can try their luck at multiple alpine lakes and rivers in the nearby Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
A major draw to the area is Mount St. Helens. Just 30 miles east, the top of Mount St. Helens can be seen from Silver Lake. Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, visitors travel from all over the world to get glimpse of the active volcano. The park encompasses 1,312,000 acres and includes the 110,000-acre Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. The Forest contains numerous campgrounds and picnic areas as well as opportunity for canoeing, kayaking, rafting, fishing, hunting, horseback riding and hiking. There are over 1,360 miles of streams and over 100 lakes in the Forest. Wildlife includes deer, elk, black bear, cougar, mountain goats, and small game species of grouse, bobcat, coyote, fox, raccoon, and rabbits. During the winter months, Marble Mountain Snow-Park on the south side of Mount St. Helens is paradise for snowmobilers, cross country skiers, and snowshoers.
Silver Lake is approximately 50 miles from Portland, Oregon to the south and 110 miles from Seattle to the north. The closest cities to the lake are Castle Rock, Toutle, Kelso and Longview. Although once dependent on the timber industry, the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens caused tourism to expand rapidly and has now taken precedence. The county still produces a large supply of logs and finished lumber, but visitors flocking to the area admire the Douglas firs, hemlocks and western cedar trees that cover much of the rugged terrain for their beauty, rather than their economic potential.
Silver Lake is served by one major road, Spirit Lake Highway, which joins I-5 in Castle Rock. Once sparsely populated, a number of residential and commercial developments now line the highway. Major shopping malls and small shops are within a short drive of the lake. Castle Rock’s historic downtown features a wide variety of unique shops, antique stores, family restaurants, and accommodations for lake visitors. Real estate for sale can be found throughout the area.
Although Mount St. Helens is the main attraction, Silver Lake and the surrounding area are loaded with cultural and recreational opportunities. Hike on the side of an active volcano, fish for bass, salmon, or trout, play a round of golf at one of the area’s fine courses or enjoy a day of shopping in the local communities. At the end of the day, sit back and relax in your campsite or lakeside vacation rental and enjoy the incredible view of the famous mountain.
Things to do at Silver Lake Cowlitz County
- Cross-Country Skiing
- Horseback Riding
- Wildlife Viewing
- State Park
- National Forest
Fish species found at Silver Lake Cowlitz County
- Black Bass
- Cutthroat Trout
- Largemouth Bass
- Rainbow Trout
- Yellow Perch
Silver Lake Cowlitz County Photo Gallery
Silver Lake Cowlitz County Statistics & Helpful Links
Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed
Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Surface Area: 3,000 acres
Shoreline Length: 4 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 489 feet
Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet
Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 2,000 feet
Average Depth: 5 feet
Maximum Depth: 10 feet
Completion Year: 1971
Drainage Area: 42 sq. miles
Trophic State: Eutrophic
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