Silver Lake (Cowlitz County), Washington, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Washington - Southwest Washington -

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

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • National Forest
  • Playground
  • Antiquing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Silver Lake Cowlitz County

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Yellow Perch

Silver Lake Cowlitz County Photo Gallery

  • Silver Lake.

Silver Lake Cowlitz County Statistics & Helpful Links

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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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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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