Little Lava Lake: The start of something big

Visiting Little Lava Lake

Little Lava Lake is a small lake that plays a very big role in Oregon. Located in the shadow of Mt. Bachelor, this lake is the source of the Deschutes River. From here, the river winds and meanders to the Columbia River, 252 miles to the north. This river supports a wide variety of wildlife and also provides water for power, irrigation, and drinking. It’s also an important ingredient in local beers.

Origin of Deschutes River, Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28Sept2017Water from subsurface springs feed the lake. Occasionally water from Lava Lake, just northwest of Little Lava Lake, flows into this lake. Lava flows from past volcanic activity are visible along the shores.

 

To the north, you get great views of the Broken Top and South Sister volcanoes. To the northeast, Mt. Bachelor looms over the forest. It is a really scenic place to visit in a kayak! I like kayaking this lake because it has lots of interesting nooks and crannies.

Volcanic views, Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28Sept2017There are great opportunities to see wildlife around this lake. Rushes and sedges form dense stands along the shorelines. Lodgepole pine forests border the lake.

Volcanic views, Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28Sept2017On a cool September day as I kayaked around the lake, I saw common mergansers, mallards, a bald eagle, a great blue heron, a Lewis’ woodpecker, a winter wren, and many northern flickers and mountain chickadees. I heard nuthatches and ravens calling from the woods. Douglas’ squirrels and chipmunks were up to their usual mischief near the shoreline.

Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28Sept2017About Little Lava Lake

Little Lava Lake is 138-acres in size with an average depth of eight feet and a maximum depth of 18 feet. The lake is at an elevation of 4,750 feet. It’s located about 38 miles southwest of Bend, Oregon. Little Lava Lake is stocked with rainbow trout that average 6-12 inches in size. We caught a beautiful 12-inch rainbow trolling from a kayak. The brook trout population in the lake is self-sustaining. Whitefish and tui chub also live in this lake. For more details on fishing at Little Lava Lake, click here (on the Fishing tab) or here.

Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28Sept2017There is a boat launch on the eastern shore at Little Lava Lake. A Northwest Forest Service Pass is required here. Motorized and non-motorized boats are allowed on the lake.

Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28Sept2017Little Lava Lake Campground is located on the western shore of the lake. It has 13 campsites and two tent-only group sites. Lava Lake Resort is right next door. There is a store there and boat rentals, RV camping, gas, and oil. There are MANY trails nearby to explore.

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