Exploring Parish Lake and Nearby Wetlands

The sundews are so thick in the bog at the west end of Parish Lake that you can see the red—in the upper right here—in an aerial image.

Rannock-rush has distinctive olive-colored infructescences. I’ve always planned to get out early enough to see its meager flowers, but I still haven’t managed it. I was at Gold Lake Bog just after the snow melted this year, but in that case, I was too early. Here this unusual species is growing with the red-leaved great sundew and the glaucous-leaved marsh cinquefoil.

With the smoke from the Bedrock Fire inundating eastern Lane County, on July 28, I headed north to Parish Lake in Linn County. I hadn’t been there since 2016 (see Wildlife and Wildflowers at Parish Lake) when I went several times, including leading a trip for the Native Plant Society Annual Meeting. Parish Lake is at only 3300′ of elevation, so I knew it would be late in the season for the area, but there is always plenty to see.

I poked around the amazing floating bog at Parish Lake for a couple of hours. There weren’t too many butterflies, but there were many bees enjoying the maroon swamp cinquefoil (Comarum palustre) flowers and the pink inflorescences of Douglas’ spiraea (Spiraea douglasii). There were also a number of dragonflies and damselflies, and a family of wood ducks swam around the lake trying to stay on the far side from me. It was very peaceful. The water looked beautiful and deep enough in places to tempt me to go for a swim, but it doesn’t seem like a great idea to go swimming alone, so I’ll save that for another trip.

The rare white beaksedge (Rhynchospora alba) grows among the great sundew (Drosera anglica) in the thick sphagnum. The red, green, white, and gold color scheme is worthy of a Christmas card.

A damselfly relaxes on a sundew capsule. It’s safe as long as it doesn’t venture down close to the sticky leaves. Damselflies are a frequent prey of the carnivorous sundews.

This is the pond just a half-mile north of Parish Lake along the same road. It looked intriguing on GoogleEarth, but it really didn’t have any traversable wetland alongside it. There were some ducks, and it is probably a great place for wildlife, but it isn’t diverse enough for me to return. There are a number of these kinds of ponds in the area. It’s always worth checking them out.

I checked out a wetland I’d seen just north of the road a little farther east. It turned out to be a small lake surrounded by tall sedges but no real place to walk, so I left there quickly. Far more interesting was a small bog hidden away in the curve of a bend in Parish Lake Road just opposite Road 450 that leads to the Daly Lake trailhead. I’d been there several times before, but it had been many years. Though close to the road, it is a bit of a struggle getting downhill through rhododendrons and other shrubs to the open bog. It’s only a half-acre, but it is worth the scramble. I was disappointed that I was unable to locate the rare marsh skullcap (Scutellaria galericulata) that I’d seen there before. I hope it hasn’t vanished. Otherwise, it was the highlight of my day. It has many of the same plants as Parish Lake—only a quarter mile away as the crow flies—including both species of sundews, swamp cinquefoil, white bog orchids (Platanthera dilatata), tall cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium), and the unusual rannoch-rush (Scheuchzeria palustris). Several ducks were also enjoying the small bit of open water here.

The small hidden bog is especially beautiful. Unlike a lot of wild-looking wetlands, it has the orderly, well-tended look of a Japanese garden. The deep brown moss in the water really sets off the golden sphagnum.

Yellow pond lilies (Nuphar polysepala) and white bog orchids bloom in the hidden bog.

Suksdorf’s paintbrush grows in similar moist habitats to scarlet paintbrush, and they often grow together. It can be differentiated from its more common relative by the yellow and green in the bracts.

From Parish Lake Road, I headed back to Highway 22 and drove south to the very next road that leads west, Lava Lake Meadow Road 2067, which leads to the Pyramids trailhead and goes past a large, more or less open area of the Park Creek basin. A short distance on this road, I stopped and walked north on an old road to check out a small pond where I’d once seen common bladderwort (Utricularia vulgaris ssp. macrorhiza) years ago. I found the pond, but I didn’t see any bladderwort in bloom, and it was still wet enough around the edges that without boots, I couldn’t get too close to the water. In spite of the low elevation, it had been in late August that I’d seen it blooming, so I was actually too early. Like the one earlier in the day, it was mainly surrounded by sedges and isn’t terribly diverse, so I headed back to the car, happily collecting some ripe Columbia windflower (Anemone deltoidea) seeds on the way back.

This small lake off the road to Park Creek is surrounded by sedges and other graminoids. There are some interesting aquatics in the open water, but it’s not easy to getting through the sedges.

This lovely section of Park Creek is close to the road and very floriferous, although its best bloom is earlier in the season.

To get to my last stop, I drove across the bridge that crosses Park Creek and parked a short way up the road across from the intersection of Road 562. It’s just a short bushwhack to visit my favorite spot along the creek. Both scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) and the much less common Suksdorf’s paintbrush (C. suksdorfii) were still in bloom along with a few white bog orchids. After relaxing a bit here, I headed home. No thrills, but it was an enjoyable day, and it was good to get back to these spots I hadn’t been to in such a long time.

Water buttercup (Ranunculus aquatilis) is a late-blooming species that grows right in running creeks, its flowers just above the water to allow for safe pollination. Growing with it is marsh speedwell (Veronica scutellata), another wildflower that loves to have its feet wet.

One Response to “Exploring Parish Lake and Nearby Wetlands”

  • Leigh Blake:

    Wonderful…lovely and we all love green at this time of the year..I love seeing water too..

    Thanks for beautiful photos…We’re working to finish up the pond we started, five years ago…Need to see water in the garden…

    Have a glorious hike again soon!! Thinking of you!!

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