Hiking to Lava Lakes

Bend, OR

The Cascades Lakes National Scenic Byway runs for 66 miles from Bend heading south on the east side of the Cascade Range.  It goes up and around Mt. Bachelor and provides access to many recreational facilities in central Oregon. The route is so named because it weaves past a number of small natural lakes along the Cascades, as well as several reservoirs on the upper Deschutes River.  Right now the road is closed on the other side of Mt. Bachelor due to deep snow.  One afternoon we drove south of Bend, then turned west to get on the byway south of the closure.  Once on the byway we drove north to a parking area for the Lucky Lake Trailhead, a one mile long trail leading west to Lucky Lake.  We were not hiking that trail but crossed the road to the beginning of a trail leading east to the Lava Lakes.

The unmarked trail to Lava Lakes

The trail is a nice, flat walk through the woods.  There was no evidence of anyone being on the trail and a couple of downed trees blocked our path, so we think we were the first hikers on it this year.

About halfway to the lakes we came upon a fairly large area with standing water covering the trail.  We were able to pick our way around and through the area without getting wet and rejoin the dry trail after a short detour.

OK, where’s the trail

Finding our own trail

Once around the water it was an easy hike up to Lava Lake.

Just a short hike south of Lava Lake is Little Lava Lake.  While Lava Lake has a campground and a couple of docks and boat launches, Little Lava Lake appears to have no facilities along its shoreline.  Little Lava Lake drains into a stream that is the headwaters of the Deschutes River.

Little Lava Lake

The mosquitoes were a bit aggressive so after visiting the two lakes we headed back down the trail.  After crossing through the area of standing water, we noticed what appeared to be fresh horse tracks on the trail.  Then we came to a spot where a fallen tree we had climbed over earlier had been cut out with a chainsaw.  As we approached the end of the trail we came to the source of our observations.  A couple of volunteers had ridden in on mules to clear downed trees on the trail.  They brought a third mule loaded with the necessary equipment, such as hand saws and a chainsaw.   They must have worked pretty quickly as we were not at the lake very long and we never heard any noise from the chainsaw.

We still have one more week left in Bend before moving northwest toward the Olympic Peninsula, so there are bound to be more adventures in our future.  More on that later . . .


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12 Responses to Hiking to Lava Lakes

  1. Sue says:

    John is such a good balancer……

  2. Jeff says:

    A few years ago we drove the Cascade Loop and the bugs were a bit of a pain then. They must have been worse in this wet year, bad enough to turn the nimble hiker back without a lunch photo. Looking forward to the discoveries you share on the PNW.

  3. pmbweaver says:

    Both Lakes are beautiful. Boy are you two finding so much beauty in Bend. Cool photo of the mules.

  4. Sherry says:

    Hate to hear that word “mosquitoes”. Those lakes look like they might be lovely kayaking. Still can’t get over the idea of snow in June. Fun to meet the trail maintenance crew and be probably the first hikers of the season.

  5. Jodee Gravel says:

    Good thing you got there before the mules and their peeps cleared away all that fun obstacle course! Love the pretty little lake.

  6. geogypsy2u says:

    Yet another nice hike. And really nice to have the tree obstacles removed for the return.

  7. Jim and Barb says:

    Cool shot of the mule! We are headed into mosquito country. You talking about it made us think of how we are not looking forward to that!

  8. Debbie L says:

    Oh those mosquitoes! We keep forgetting to spray – but try to avoid being out at dusk….while at Rend Lake that’s the only time they were out. Lava Lake looks a bit more ripe!
    How cool to meet the trail crew. We’ve often wondered how they get their equipment up to some trails we’ve been on!

  9. Laurel says:

    I always wondered how the trail crews got equipment in to clear some of those big trees off of the trails! Love the photo of the mule. Those are some pretty good obstacles on those trails!

  10. Gay says:

    Dang mosquitoes! Such a bother…
    Love the lakes and the shoreline. Makes for wonderful destinations!

  11. Downed trees and wet trails have been the story of our hikes in NorCal this spring…looks like things are the same in Bend. Ah well, the forest can use the water after all the years of drought the west has had!

  12. LuAnn says:

    It must be driving you two crazy to have your hiking hampered due to snow. As I sit here at the Buffalo Ranch, we got a dusting of snow up in the mountains just above us overnight.

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