Oregon's Lake District

By Henderson, Bonnie | Sunset, September 1997 | Go to article overview

Oregon's Lake District


Henderson, Bonnie, Sunset


Take your pick of 13 uncrowded lakes near Bend for boating, hiking, fishing, bird-watching, or rustic lodging

Last autumn, I spent an evening in a rowboat on South Twin Lake, watching a pair of anglers cast flies as the sun dipped into ponderosa pines before setting behind my little log cabin. That scene alone was worth the trip.

South Twin is one in a string of lakes that lie east of the crest of the Oregon Cascades. Because the lakes are at snowprone elevations of 4,300 to 6,300 feet, most visitors come to swim and play between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But from early September to mid-October, the lakes are gloriously uncrowded, the trout are hungry, and the days are typically warm and sunny.

You can explore the area on a 90-mile loop drive on Cascade Lakes Highway starting at Bend. About 23 miles from Bend, just past the turnoff to Mt. Bachelor Ski Area, look for a sign for Todd Lake on the right; you can walk the level 2.4-mile trail around the lake, or launch a canoe or raft and try fishing. Continuing on Cascade Lakes Highway, you'll next come to shallow Sparks Lake, which offers spectacular mountain views, easy canoeing, fly-fishing, and short hiking trails on its east side. Just to the northwest, deep-turquoise Devils Lake invites wading along its sandy shores and is a good spot for picnicking.

Elk Lake is popular for sailing and windsurfing as well as fishing. The lodge at Elk Lake Resort houses a restaurant and a store that rents motorboats, canoes, rowboats, and paddleboats. The lodge is also close to nearby Hosmer Lake. …

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