Oregon lake resorts off the beaten path

Last month, our teenager hiked the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail. As we followed along on his journey through Oregon, assisting with food drops and other needs, we discovered a new side of our home state we hadn’t yet explored! Throughout the rural mountain regions of the Beaver State, many Oregon lake resorts are located far off the main interstate or even paved highways. They offer tranquility, beauty, and rustic yet comfortable amenities. Here are our favorites!

oregon-lake-resorts

Shelter Cove Resort

Located on beautiful Odell Lake near Willamette Pass, Shelter Cove Resort offers a marina, cabin rentals, a friendly camp store, and a pretty campground. It gets busy during the summer months with fishing derbies and other outdoorsy events, but when we visited during a crowded weekend, it still felt relaxed and peaceful. There’s boating on this lake, but mostly of the fishing variety, so there’s not a lot of noise. To get to Shelter Cove, take Highway 58 from Eugene or Highway 97 to Highway 58 from Bend.

What to do nearby: Adjacent to Shelter Cove is the Oregon Skyline Trail, which connects the lake to Windigo Pass, above Crater Lake. A five mile hike up the OST from Shelter Cove takes hikers along lovely Whitefish Creek to Diamond View Lake, a tiny alpine lake accessible only by trail. It’s a tough hike (and a round-trip of 1o miles), but well-worth the long day. Just bring a picnic lunch!

If you are a PCT hiker or assisting one: Shelter Cove is PCT-friendly, offering a designated area for hikers with outlets, WiFi, and water. You can also get a PCT campsite in the campground for $10.

Elk Lake Resort

Like Odell Lake, Elk Lake is tucked away in the heart of Oregon, this time north of Mt. Bachelor. The resort offers one of the best day use and swimming beaches of the Oregon lake resorts we visited, and a great little restaurant that serves the best pulled pork sandwich my son says he’s ever eaten! There are camping cabins, full-sized cabins (more like condos) and a rustic campground. There is a marina, and boat rentals are available, as well as water ‘toy’ rentals like stand-up paddle boards. To get to Elk Lake, take Century Drive north of Bend.

What to do nearby: Take time to check out all the smaller Cascade lakes along Century Drive, north of towering Mt. Bachelor. Or, rent mountain bikes and hit the trails in and around Bend in the Deschutes National Forest.

If you are a PCT hiker or assisting one: Definitely have your hiker stop for a meal here, and you can send packages here if you need a food drop. Elk Lake isn’t far from Bend, so friends can meet you pretty easily.

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Hyatt Lake Resort

Located in Southern Oregon above the Greensprings, Hyatt lake Resort is a large, boater-friendly lake with several campgrounds and a rustic resort. Easily accessible from Ashland Oregon on Highway 66, Hyatt Lake’s small restaurant and cabin rentals are located on the west side of the lake, which is quieter than the day use and camping areas on the east. This is definitely a sleepy place, which is just the way most people who visit like it. The restaurant also sells take-out pizza, so if you get a cabin, you’ll be set for the night!

What to do nearby: Check out the historic Greensprings Inn, just down the road, and learn about the early automobile road that winds through the mountains here. Drive down Highway 66 to take a short day hike on Grizzly Peak, or head all the way to Ashland to spend a day at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival or at Lithia Park. You’re only about 30 miles away.

If you are a PCT hiker or assisting one: There are walk-in tent sites at the campground across the lake from the resort, if you’re not staying there. And the Hyatt Lake Resort restaurant will give out free ice cream cones to PCT hikers!

Ollalie Lake Resort:

Located in a very remote part of Central Oregon and accessible only by forest service road, Ollalie Lake Resort is where to go for a completely tech-free stay. There’s no cell service or WiFi anywhere at the lake. To get there, it’s easiest to start at Salem, and take Highway 22 to National Forest Road 46. Once there, get a cabin or yurt and plan to simply stay and enjoy your wilderness surroundings. There is a small store, and boat rentals.

What to do nearby: You can easily access the PCT here and get to a few more remote lakes such as Jude Lake and Head Lake, but since Ollalie is already so remote, the best thing to do is take in the view!

If you are a PCT hiker or assisting one: There is no ability to mail food packages here, and no accommodations for PCT hikers (though you can check on cabin availability). This is best as a ‘hit the store and keep going’ spot!

Lost Lake Resort:

Located above Mt. Hood, Lost Lake is one of the most beautiful in an area teeming with beautiful lakes! Owned by the same folks who run Cascade Huts (which we loved during a winter visit), Lost Lake Resort offers downright upscale amenities compared to the other lakes featured here, but has prices to match. Their cabin rentals are very nice, but on the expensive side, and they have lodge rooms as well as a store filled with essentials. Like on the other lakes, you can rent boats and other water toys. From I-84 in the Columbia Gorge, head south on Highway 201/281 to the lake.

What to do nearby: Lost Lake Resort is within easy driving distance of Mt. Hood and Government Camp, which has fun summer activities offered in and near the ski resorts, such as mountain biking. Day hiking is also popular in this area.

If you are a PCT hiker or assisting one: Most PCT hikers don’t stop here, since Government Camp is so close (and has more amenities). But Lost Lake Resort is a great place for PCT trail angels (or people assisting hikers) to stay, if you book early!

Do you have a favorite Oregon lake resort?

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About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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