Have you ever seen the latest Oregon quarter? If so, you’ve seen an artist’s rendering of Lost Lake up near Mt. Hood. And after having visited it, we think a visit to the real thing is well worth it. Erin may even have found her new favorite place in Oregon!
We were staying with friends near Rhododendron in the Mt. Hood National Forest and decided we wanted to do a 3-4 mile hike. After looking at our options in the 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland book, we chose Lost Lake, described as a 3.3 round the lake loop with spectacular views of Mt. Hood.
Since we were already in Rhododendron, we decided to go the Lolo Pass route, which goes around the west side of the mountain, a side we’d never explored. The day was bright and sunny, and the mountain was spectacular! At Lolo Pass we turned onto a gravel road (it’s in good shape) which we drove on for about eight miles before getting back onto pavement. The one-way drive took about an hour and a half. (You can also get there via Hood River — and all-paved roads.)
The trailhead is at Lost Lake Resort, and there is a $8 per car day use fee, payable on your way in. The resort also has camping, cabins, a lodge, and yurts for accommodations and they rent rowboats, kayaks, and canoes. They have a lovely little dock area with lots of Adirondack chairs for relaxing in front of a general store that sells some food, fishing supplies, trinkets, and the like.
The hike itself is easy. It’s a mostly level (there are a few ups and downs), packed dirt trail, with several boardwalk sections. It goes through old growth forest right along the lake’s edge the whole way. Some of the cedars in here are 12 feet across, and I have no idea how tall the trees get, but they go waaaaaay up there!
We started out from the dock going counterclockwise, and after just a few minutes made a turn to find a glorious view of the mountain. All four in our group — who’ve all lived in Oregon for a long time — could not stop talking about the incredible beauty of it. It was just awesome!
There were lots of trillium blooming along the trail, which is a favorite flower of many Oregonians. The trillium flower’s three petals make it unmistakable. It’s a beautiful little harbinger of summer coming.
There were quite a few people up enjoying the lake, but it never seemed crowded. Lots of families were enjoying the many picnic tables on the west end of the lake (all of which had a charcoal grill, too), and many people were out on the lake in boats they’d rented or brought up themselves. We also saw some people fishing, and one guy even did say he’d caught an eight-pound trout — pretty impressive.
We talked to one of the dock managers who said that this little gem of a lake is pretty much deserted any weekday, even in summer, so if you prefer more solitude, you might want to head up here during the week. At least two other hikes leave from Lost Lake, too, if you want a longer/harder hiking or backpacking adventure, and you can even reach the Pacific Crest Trail from here.
When we go again, and we will be going again, we’re planning to do some camping, but if we came up for the day again, we’d definitely bring our blow-up kayak, a picnic, and a good book — and spend some time just hanging out. Sounds like a pretty perfect day.
What hidden gems have you found in your area? Let us know in the comments, and enjoy your week or your weekend!