Have you ever finally made it to a place that people had told you you HAD to go to? For me that place was Hosmer Lake. Why didn’t I go here sooner?!
We went early on a mid-weekday morning. I had heard about the crowds sometimes here on weekends. It can get very crowded – especially on summer weekends.
There is a concrete boat ramp leading into a bulrush-lined meandering lake. After boarding our kayaks, we were greeted almost immediately by a bald eagle perched in a nearby tree. It was almost as if it had been planted there for a photo opportunity. We paddled on and took a channel to the left.
Looking under our boats, we noticed many large fish. It is a fly fishing only catch-and-release lake. There are brook trout, rainbow trout, and Atlantic salmon here. They stopped stocking salmon in 2015. Now Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife is stocking cutthroat trout and “Cranebow” rainbow trout in Hosmer Lake. Cranebows are hatchery fish derived from wild redband trout that live in nearby Crane Prairie Reservoir. They are known for being feisty and strong.
For more information on where to fish within 90 minutes of Bend, go here.
The lake is shallow and clear so, according to one fisherman we saw, the fish may see you long before you attempt to catch them. We saw a great blue heron patiently perched nearby in pursuit of its own fish dinner.
The conifer forests, bulrushes, and water plants bordering the lake provide habitat for several types of birds. Swallows ascended then dipped low over the lake. A nighthawk squawked as it pursued a meal of flying insects. Yellow-headed blackbirds tiptoed across floating water plants. A sapsucker probed at a downed tree by the water’s edge. Pied-billed grebes and ring-necked ducks drifted by us with their young. A double-crested cormorant submerged and surfaced many yards away.
If you go at a time of light usage, you may not see anyone else for a while. It’s almost like you are in the wilds of Alaska instead of just 36 miles from the city of Bend, Oregon.
Hosmer Lake is one of the lakes along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway near Mount Bachelor, Broken Top, and the Sisters mountains. We get used to seeing these peaks in Bend but to see them up close like this as you paddle along is spectacular.
The lake is located at about 5,000 feet in elevation. The average depth is only three feet but it gets as deep as 12 feet. Hosmer Lake has a surface area of 198 acres. There are two U.S. Forest Service campgrounds located at the lake.
Fun fact: This lake was previously called Mud Lake. Before a small dam was installed on the lake in 1958, the lake was marshier and muddier. It was also home to murk-creating carp before they were eliminated in 1957. In 1962 the lake’s name was changed to honor Bend naturalist, Paul Hosmer.