Central Oregon Lakes - Hike, Bike, Swim & Paddle

No trip to Sunriver is complete without visiting some of our beautiful mountain lakes!  Whether you're interested in biking singletrack, hiking around a lake, or swimming in some cool clear water, we've got some lakes you should check out.

1. Elk Lake

With stunning mountain views, some nice beachy areas and a resort offering a restaurant and live music, Elk Lake is a Central Oregon favorite for swimming and paddling.  This popular lake can get crowed, so snag a parking spot early!  Park at the resort to enjoy paddleboard rentals and the restaurant, or park at the Forest Service picnic area for beach access. 

2. Cultus Lake

Mountain bikers will love the 11.4 mile Cultus Lake loop, which passes through dense forest to visit three lakes: Cultus, Little Cultus, and Deer Lake.  Starting at Cultus Lake Resort, you can do any portion of this trail as an out-and-back, and there are lots of spots to stop for a picnic and a swim along the way.  The easiest portion of the trail heads North along the shore of Cultus Lake, passing several popular boat/bike campgrounds and lots of picnic spots. 

Late summer, this trail can get pretty dusty, so you might want to consider renting a fat bike for this adventure! 

3. Sparks Lake

One of our favorites for paddling, Sparks Lake features beautiful mountain views, abundant wildflowers and neat geological features that'll make you feel like you're on an adventure.  This lake also has a short hiking trail, but we don't recommend hiking very far here as it wanders off into the forest and leaves the lakeside views behind after only about a half mile.  

4. South Twin Lake

South Twin Lake has a wide beach and shallow, warm water, and is great for kids.   A short hiking trail loops around the lake to a beach on the other side, allowing you to escape the crowds and get some fantastic views. 

5. Paulina Lake

A favorite for hikers, this lake features a 7.8 mile loop trail in the Newberry Caldera.  Many hikers stop a bit over a mile into the trail at the beach and hot springs, where you can enjoy a warm swim and the beautiful blue waters of the lake.  For mountain bikers, a 19.5 mile trail circles the rim of the crater above the lake, with beautiful views and technical singletrack. 

6. Hosmer Lake

For a longer paddle, Hosmer Lake is a fun day trip.  The marshy terrain around the lake and patches of lily pads will give you lots of wildlife viewing activities, as well as great fishing.  Views of Mt. Bachelor are spectacular, and you can head North from the parking lot to find the creek that feeds the lake, Quinn Creek.  This creek can be paddled for quite a ways until you hit a small waterfall, where many people stop for a picnic lunch. 

7. Lava & Little Lava Lakes

Two mountain bike trails meet up at Little Lava Lake - the Metolius-Windigo Trail and the Edison-Lava Trail.  Head towards Edison for some technical singletrack and lava rock features, or pedal the Metolius-Windigo Trail towards Hosmer Lake and Sparks Lake for a tour of beautiful high mountain lakes.  Little Lava is also a favorite for paddle adventures - although it's small, it has great views and wildlife viewing. 


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