Adventuring near the water is beloved in Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory. Hanging out at the lake, making memories with friends and family and enjoying the views is a dream. But which lake is best for you? It just so happens that Mt. Hood Territory has more than a few to choose from.
Not as well-known as it's man-made cousin Trillium, Timothy Lake is still a beautiful spot that also offers some stellar views of nearby Mt. Hood. It's a little further out than some others, but it's worth the extra time to get to as it offers great fishing, sailing and kayaking options. It's also one of the few lakes that allows motorized boating. There's also a scenic, 16-mile long bike trail around the lake that is a great ride. After a full day of biking and fishing, rest up at one of the several campgrounds that ring the lake, making it a perfect spot for that last camping trip of the season in Mt. Hood Territory.
Located along the Clackamas River just east of the town of Estacada, the North Fork Reservoir is part of Portland General Electric's power generation system. Sure that comes in handy, but we like it more for it's excellent fishing, as it's known for schools of rainbow trout that are quite accommodating with their willingness to grab your lure. It's a great spot to take the kids for that milestone moment of catching their first fish. Early fall is the best season for fishing, so we're entering prime catching time here. Make sure your licenses are up to date, and your fishing line is fresh. You're going to need it.
Little Crater Lake
Little Crater Lake takes it's name from the blue, clear waters of it's famous, much larger namesake further south in Oregon. Located a mere 600 or so feet from the Pacific Crest Trail, Little Crater Lake is a natural feature fed from an artesian well. That means the water is cold, around 42 or colder year-round. So while you can't go swimming, it's a perfect spot for a picnic or to spend a night at the nearby campground.
The 6.6 mile hike out and back to Burnt Lake is well worth your while. Along the way you'll experience an enchanting forest which provides plenty of shade from the heat. You will be rewarded with beautiful views of a crisp mountain lake, and, if you're lucky, a stunning view of Mt. Hood. You may even want to add a loop around the lake to your hike, which is less than one mile. I suggest packing a picnic to enjoy while there. Don't be intimidated by the unpaved road, I was able to cautiously drive the road in my low-to-the-ground sedan.
Trillium Lake is probably the most well known lake in Mt. Hood Territory if not in all of Oregon. This man-made reservoir offers iconic views of Mt. Hood paired with a wealth of recreational opportunities and easy access make it a top spot for photographers, kayakers, anglers and water lovers. Grab an innertube and float on the peaceful waters, or rent a stand-up paddleboard from Mt. Hood Outfitters and paddle your way across the lake. Or just bring a lunch and dine al fresco, with majestic Mt. Hood looking on.
Another iconic spot in Mt. Hood, this glacier-formed lake is so named for it's mirror-like reflections of Mt. Hood on calm days. Both at the water's edge or from the nearby vantage point of Tom Dick and Harry Mountain, Mirror Lake is a popular destination for hikers and photographers looking for a fun yet challenging trip into the Mt. Hood National Forest, and want a reward of postcard-worthy views.
This beautiful little gem is a reservoir along the Clackamas River, accessed from Milo McIver State Park which sits on its northwestern section while Estacada sits on its eastern shores. Estacada Lake is popular with anglers as it's regularly stocked with trout. It's also a great lake for kayaking and stand up paddleboarding, as it's calm waters and scenic views make for a peaceful trip. Keep an eye out on the western flanks for a scenic little waterfall that makes for a great photo op.
The only lake in our area of the Greater Portland region. What Oswego Lake lacks in recreational opportunities makes up for in hip activities in the city of Lake Oswego. Outdoor public art, shopping and great dining, much of which is along the shores of this picturesque lake. Lakeside lodging is available as well, making this spot an awesome place to be for those who love to be near the water, but aren't so much into the whole nature thing.