Three Creek Lake – Kayak trip

Kayaking at Three Creek Lake

This high elevation lake, 17 miles south of Sisters, Oregon, is a popular spot with visitors. Tam McArthur Rim towers over the south and west sides of the lake, making beautiful reflections at any time of the year.  As you paddle around the lake (no motorboats are allowed), you will hear creeks babbling over the rocks as they enter the lake. The water level of this natural lake is controlled by a small dam at the outlet.

Three Creek Lake near Sisters, Oregon 24September2017

We went kayaking at the lake on a cool September morning after the Labor Day crowds left. We had the lake all to ourselves. The small general store was boarded up and closed for the season. A few inches of snow were on the ground.

ThreeCreekLake3 24September2017

ThreeCreekLake4 24September2017

Ground squirrels, chipmunks, and a scattering of birds were seen along the shores. When I brought my kayak back to the car, I almost had a couple unexpected house guests. Two ground squirrels had climbed into my kayak. I circled them in the picture above to show them running away. They are certainly entertaining!

ThreeCreekLake2 24September2017A couple deer watched us from the distant shore.

ThreeCreekLake5 24September2017These two mallards had the lake to themselves.

In summer months, you’ll see and hear osprey working the lake. You’ll hear the distinctive call of nuthatches and see Clark’s nutcrackers in the trees. This lake has a narrow border of sedges and the plants don’t offer as much cover as other lakes nearby.

ThreeCreekLake6 24September2017About Three Creek Lake

ThreeCreekLake8 24September2017This 28-acre lake has a depth of 11-28 feet. It is at an elevation of 6,550 feet and water temperatures stay cool throughout the year. Eastern brook trout and rainbow trout inhabit this lake. The rainbow trout are stocked in the lake but the brook trout are self-sustaining. Though you can fish from shore, most people fish from boats. Trolling with a flat fish lure from a kayak landed us a nice pan-size rainbow trout. Most fish here average around ten inches. For more on fishing, click here.

There’s a primitive boat launching area with limited parking at Three Creek Lake. A Northwest Forest Pass is required here. You can rent a boat from the Three Creek Lake Store but the store is only open from July to Labor Day in September.

ThreeCreekLake7 24September2017

There are three campgrounds and a hiking trailhead at the lake. Three Creek Lake Campground has 11 campsites, and it’s on the southeast side of the lake. Driftwood Campground is on the northern side of the lake and it has 18 sites. Three Creek Meadow Campground & Horsecamp is just north of the lake. That campground has nine sites for those with horses and 11 where horses are not allowed. The trailhead for the Tam McArthur Rim trail is near where the road T’s at the lake.

Rollin’ on the Metolius River

Metolius River 3June2016In the shadow of Black Butte, water flows out of a hole in the ground and turns into a fast-moving river known as the Metolius River. You can take a short walk  to the headwaters, located about 14 miles northwest of Sisters, Oregon. Pine forests enclose the two clusters of springs where this 315-square mile drainage basin begins.

Metolius River Headwaters 27Nov2016

Metolius River Headwaters

Since the water level is relatively constant, it has a couple interesting characteristics. The flow rate at the headwaters is 6,700 cu ft/min and it reaches 81,000 cu ft/min by the time  it reaches Lake Billy Chinook, 28.6 miles away. The water temperature is consistently at about 48° F. Brrr!

The river supports a healthy population of fish including rainbow trout, bull trout, kokanee, and mountain whitefish. There is catch-and-release fly-fishing on the upper Metolius. Click here for more info on fishing there. Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery, 10.6 miles from the headwaters, raises rainbow trout, kokanee, and salmon.

There are almost a dozen campgrounds located along the river. We stayed once at the Pioneer Ford Campground in early September and it was nice. There are also several resorts near the small unincorporated town of Camp Sherman.

Trails border the river and branch out into surrounding areas. Hikers, horseback riders, skiers,and snowshoers  enjoy the many miles of trails here. Spring wildflowers and fall foliage are particularly beautiful around this river.

There is a wide variety of wildlife that lives in the habitats near the river. River otters and beaver live in and around the river and other mammals such as mule deer, elk, black bear, bobcat, cougars, and squirrels live in the vicinity.  Birds such as osprey, grouse, herons, and many songbirds use the area. Look for the small American dipper bird foraging along the river. I went to the Woodpecker Festival here last year. There are about a dozen species of woodpeckers here so this event draws people from near and far. See my post Where’s Woody for more about that.

This National Wild and Scenic River flows through land owned by Deschutes National Forest, Deschutes Land Trust,Warm Springs Indian Reservation, and private owners. Click here to find out about some of the recreational opportunities on Forest Service lands.

Paulina Lake hike in the fall

Paulina Lake 4Oct2016

The day we hiked at Paulina Lake, 25 miles east of Bend, the weather forecast was a bit iffy. In fact, the location for our hike had been changed to a warmer locale but we decided to go for it.

Paulina Lake sits at 6,350 feet in elevation and snow was predicted. We started our hike at Paulina Lake Lodge and hiked two and a half miles to the hot springs. We ran into snow, rain, hail, and sun on that October day.

The trail hugged the side of the lake so we had good views of it the whole way. Paulina Lake, and it’s fraternal twin East Lake, sit in a caldera that formed after Newberry volcano blew and then collapsed. Paulina Lake is 1,531 acres in size with depths up to 250 feet. To learn more about the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, click here for one of my previous posts.

Paulina Lake Volcanic soil 4Oct2016

The trail was relatively smooth with little elevation gain. At the beginning of the trail there were a few areas where the trail had been cut through fallen timber. In parts of the trail, the soil was brick red reflecting it’s volcanic origins. Lichens covered tree trunks in shades of fluorescent green.

Paulina Lake Hot springs 4Oct2016

A lakeshore hot spring

As we made our way towards the hot springs, a cool breeze blew over the lake. I have been to a dozen hot springs and this one is a little unusual. The small springs sit along the shoreline of the lake and people dig them out to increase their size. They are only visible when the water levels are low. I did not try them out on this cold day but I have heard two or three of them are a “cool” 95 ° F while the other is about 110° F. It is weird that they are such a cool temperature when recent research determined that the magma beneath the lakes reaches a temperature of 654 ° F.

Paulina Lake 4Oct2016

Fishing at this lake can be very good. The state record brown trout, at 27 pounds 12 ounces, and state record kokanee, at 4 pounds 2 ounces, were caught here. There are also rainbow trout in the lake. People  troll fish, cast, or  still fish here depending on the season. There is a boat ramp at the lodge and at Little Crater and Paulina Campgrounds. Click here for more info on Paulina Lake and the fishing opportunities there.

Clear Lake – Sunken Sights

Sunken sightsClear Lake Underwater Forest 30Aug2016

Sunken sights await you at Clear Lake in Linn County, Oregon. This “young” lake was formed by nearby volcanic activity 3,000 years ago. The McKenzie River originates here.

Clear Lake Underwater Forest 30Aug2016

Clear Lake Underwater Forest

The cold water temperatures preserved a forest of ghostly trees beneath the surface. The water temperature averages 35-43° F. Brrrr! The leaves and needles of the trees are long gone but their trunks and limbs stand like some prehistoric creature preserved in time. Some visitors get a closer look at the underwater sights by scuba diving here.

Osprey over Clear Lake 30 Aug 2016

Osprey over Clear Lake

About Clear Lake

This 148-acre lake has an average depth of 50 feet and a maximum depth of 175 feet.  In August, it was stocked with 2,500 rainbow trout – 500 of which were large fish. There are also brook trout in Clear Lake. We saw schools of fish at the southern end of the lake. Osprey were busy looking at those fish as well. Rafts of goldeneye ducks floated nearby.

Here’s a short video of the fish at the south end of the lake.

Clear Lake Reflections 30 Aug 2016

Clear Lake reflections

Clear and calm conditions provided some great opportunities to take photos of reflections from my kayak. See my post titled Nature’s Arrow for one of my favorites. The plants growing in the lava fields bordering parts of the lake were just starting to show fall colors.

Clear Lake Reflections 30 Aug 2016

Clear Lake reflections

You can camp or stay in a rustic cabin at the Clear Lake Resort and County Park . It’s open year-round. There are non-motorized boat rentals there and a small store/restaurant. There’s also the Coldwater Cove Campground that’s managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Things to do close by

This is a pretty lake and there are other natural attractions nearby. The viewing area for Sahalie and Koosah falls is just a mile away. The legendary Tamolitch (Blue) Pool is also close by. Note that the McKenzie Highway does pass close to Clear Lake and the falls so it may not be the quietest wilderness experience but the area is definitely worth a visit.

Hosmer Lake – A Kayaker’s Dream

The view from a kayak on Hosmer Lake, Oregon 10Aug2016
The view from a kayak on Hosmer Lake, Oregon

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 in the summer.

Bald eagle at Hosmer Lake 10Aug2016
Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus

There is a concrete boat ramp leading into a bulrush-lined meandering lake. After boarding our kayaks, we were soon greeted 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.

Fish galore

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 feisty and strong compared to other fish.

For more information on where to fish within 90 minutes of Bend, go here.

Great blue heron, Ardea herodias 10Aug2016
Great blue heron, Ardea herodias

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 perching next to the fisherman in pursuit of its own fish dinner.

Habitats of Hosmer Lake, Oregon
Habitats of Hosmer Lake

Flora & fauna

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. Meanwhile, a sapsucker stayed busy probing 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 then surfaced many yards away.

Hosmer Lake views, Oregon
Hosmer Lake views

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 info

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.

Kayaking at Hosmer Lake, Oregon
Kayaking at Hosmer Lake

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.