East Lake Offers Solitude and Scenery


Distance from Bend: 47 Miles
Activities: Fishing, sailing, floating, camping
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Northwest Forest Pass Required

During the hot summer months in Central Oregon people look to the water. We’ve got the rivers and creeks which are a relief to splash around in and float, and then we have the lakes. While it’s easy to get caught up in visiting all of the many Cascade Lakes just southwest of Bend, less than an hour away lies an incredible pair of lakes that formed in one of the most massive shield volcanoes in the lower 48.

I love to escape to East Lake or Paulina Lake to sail on the weekends. It might be the thrill of boating in an old volcano, or the quiet that comes from floating on a lake 6,381 feet above sea level where boats can’t go over 10 mph, but the experience is uniquely Central Oregon.


As I’m a bit of a geology nut, and I find the history of the area fascinating. The Newberry National Volcanic Monument (where East and Paulina Lake can be found) covers over 500 square miles. The summit, or Newberry Caldera, formed when the top of the volcano collapsed as the magma chamber emptied out below it forming 17 square miles of caldera. It may have once looked like Crater Lake, just 80 miles to the southwestt, but more recent eruptions divided the crater into East and Paulina Lakes, separated by pumice, ash and lava flow.

I love it for the sandy beaches, brilliant blue-green water and sense of being away from it all.

My boyfriend and I decided to spend the weekend at East Lake recently and launched our speedy 21 MacGregor sailboat at the East Lake boating site on the southwest side of the lake. Some friends brought their camper to one of the two campgrounds along the shore, and we loaded up the crew on the boat for our first trip around the lake.


Well, we had launched mid-morning when the wind isn’t as strong (mid-late afternoon the wind can really pick up) and decided to troll some of the more shallow spots so our friends could try their luck at fishing.

East Lake has been called one of the best fly fishing lakes in the country…the deep weed beds and productive hatches are ideal conditions for German Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Atlantic salmon, and Kokanee salmon. The folks at Stillwater Fly Shop in Sunriver are experts on fishing East and Paulina

Lakes and are a great stop to make on your way up to the lakes for flies. So, rods ready, we trolled the shore as flies were cast.

Success! The first fish, a Brown Trout.

We cruised around the lake, coaxing speed out of the sails, until the stronger wind picked up. Since there is a 10 mph speed limit on East Lake, we mostly had small motor boats of fishermen and a few canoers as company.


The slower pace on the lake makes a great place to try out a new kayak, canoe, paddle board or even a Hobie sailing kayak. Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe rents them all for half or full day trips.

As the afternoon became evening, we anchored our boat off shore of our friend’s campsite near a sandy beach and watched the day melt away.


Renee Patrick
Renee Patrick
Renee Patrick likes to be on the move: from over 6,000 trail miles hiked (including thru-hikes on the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails) to her current mission of mastering the sport of packrafting, you can find her on the trails, mountains, rivers or in the coffee shop (or pub) planning her next trip. When not hiking, camping or paddling she works as a writer and graphic designer in Bend. Follow her adventures at
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