5 Oregon Lake Trails That I Love

I find tremendous satisfaction in circumnavigating a lake: the beginning, the journey, and the end. With the water off one shoulder and the forest off the other, a narrow lake trail lures me away from civilization and the weighty concerns of the world.

Mirror Lake in the Mt. Hood National Forest

Hike, mountain bike, or snowshoe, I let the seasons and the gentle winds of whimsy guide me on my way. Here are five of my favorite lake trails in Oregon. Even though each trail begins and ends in the same place, I’m always better for having taken the journey.

1. Ski Anthony Lakes
La Grande/Northeast Oregon

A 1.3-kilometer loop will take you around the entire beautiful alpine lake in northeast Oregon. In the fall, the colors dazzle your hike as the 7,000-feet elevation brings in autumn with a bang. When the snow flies, strap on your snowshoes. Anthony Lakes Ski Area also offers premier Nordic skiing in a winter recreation wonderland, with 29 kilometers of groomed lanes and 11 km of single track and snowshoe trails.
Visitor Information: Visit Eastern Oregon; Ski Anthony Lakes
Download a map of the lake and Nordic trails below.

Suttle Lake Trail. Photo Credit: Bend Bulletin

2. Suttle Lake
Bend/Central Oregon

Three+ miles of easy, rolling trail circle Suttle Lake in the Cascade Mountains. The trails takes you west from the Lodge at Suttle Lake to the far end of the lake, passing a magnificent view of Mt. Washington, fishermen in small pockets of open space, at least one dog retrieving sticks, and wild roses growing along the bank. After making the turn at the west-end boat launch, you’ll cut past some campgrounds attached to folks fishing, kids splashing, grownups relaxing and groups of pretty happy people. A mountain biker or two may pass your way with a friendly wave. People are simply pleased to be here. On through a column of tall grasses and native shrubs, and you’ll be back at your cabin for a snack. Read more in “Suttle Lake and the Fine Art of Escapism.”

Visitor Information: Lodge at Suttle Lake; Visit Bend; Visit Central Oregon

3. Mirror Lake
Portland/Mt. Hood

Only one hour outside Portland, on the way to Mt. Hood, you’ll find a trail that leads to Mirror Lake: gorgeous, moderately easy, and well-named, as the clear blue water reflects the natural world above and around it. But take the path less traveled – to the ridge named Tom, Dick & Harry – and avoid the throngs who travel here on weekends and holidays. The hike is longer (6.4 miles), the views are better (Mt. Hood like you’ve never seen it) and the people are fewer in number.
Visitor Information: Mirror Lake, Travel Portland

4. Crescent Lake
Gilchrist /South Central Oregon

Stream-fed from far beneath its surface, Crescent Lake cuts a half-moon-shaped hole in the Deschutes National Forest southwest of Gilchrist and due north of Crater Lake. People are drawn to its clean blue, blue water, sandy beach spots, angling opps, and deep boating waters. The circumference of Crescent Lake is 14 miles, and I never make it past the first campground on foot. Mountain biking is another story altogether. Come winter, this trail will come alive with snowmobiles, and we’ll return to attack the trial’s full length.
Visitor Information: Discover Klamath, Crescent Lake Resort

5. Detroit Lake

400 feet deep and nine miles long, with 32 miles of shoreline, Detroit Lake was created in 1953 when the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers completed the Detroit Dam project. Quiet trails at Detroit Lake can best be found on the scenic winding logging roads leading up Breitenbush River.
Visitor Information: Detroit Lake State Recreation Area