Klamath Mountain Peat Bog

Isinglass Lake

On a recent trip into the Marble Mountain Wilderness to map and monitor whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) on the Klamath National Forest, I found myself near Isinglass Lake. I had read that the only population of great sundew (Drosera anglica) in the Klamath Mountains was documented here in 1972. I knew there was a Klamath Mountain peat bog to be found.

Klamath Mountain Peat Bog
Isinglass Lake is surrounded by an accumulation of peat, know as a peat bog.

Peat bogs develop when surface water is acidic and therefore low in nutrients. Plant growth is slow due to the low levels of nutrients, but decomposition is even slower. Plant material accumulates as a floating layer of soil above the surface water. This creates a raft of soil–amazing stuff! Check out the video below.

The water in the lake, which we drank, was brownish in color and tasted of tannins. Certain species can deal with low nutrients and slowly decomposing soil including the two species highlighted below.

Great Sundew (Drosera anglica)
Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata)

12 Replies to “Klamath Mountain Peat Bog”

      1. Great post Michael! Our cabin is right across the river from where Isinglass flows into the Scott River. What access did you use to hike up there?


        1. Thanks Matthew- We accessed the lake by a cross-country route from the Big Meadows trailhead. 4WD is needed to get to the very end, or some road could be walked.

    1. I’ve always been curious about Isinglass Lake, but I’ve never figured out how to get to the Big Meadows Trailhead by road. I thought the access was via a road that leaves the Shackleford Creek Road in the NE corner of Section 17, but the gate has always been locked whenever I go by there. Is there another way?

  1. I passed you and Ian a few weeks ago as we were heading back down toward Kidder Lake from planting fish in Fisher Lake. What were you checking out or documenting in that area? I would have liked to have stopped and talked right then but we had the other string of pack horses waiting for us to get by in that narrow spot right at that same moment so had to keep moving. I’ve been very interested in all that you do for quite some time.

  2. Isinglass Lake is one of those places I’ve been seeing on a map for years, and was intrigued, but never knew anything about. It’s an odd name. Isinglass is a form of collagen obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish, used for the clarification or fining of some beer and wine, and for a few other purposes. Why that has anything to do with a lake high in the forests of the Klamath Mountains is hard to say. Now it turns out to be another of these mountains’ unusual and uncommon habitats. Isinglass Lake is just barely inside the national forest boundary. There is private land in the watershed. Measures to give it better protection might be in order.

    1. Isinglass is also a synonym for muscovite, which is a variety of mica. That seems more likely.

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