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Hosmer Lake High Cascade Escape

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Distance from Bend: 36 Miles (about 1.5 miles off Cascade Lakes Highway)
Activities: Fishing, floating, paddling, swimming
Difficulty: Easy

I discovered the meandering channels and wild colored flowers along the shores of Hosmer Lake last June after a turning around from a hike on South Sister because of too much snow. As many do in Central Oregon, my boyfriend and I had thrown boats in the car. What they say about Central Oregon really is true: you can ski in the morning, boat in the afternoon, and bike in the evening (or substitute golf, climb, hike, and fish for any of those activities!)

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Devils Lake, near the parking area for the South Sister hike, was crowded, so we drove 9 miles down the road to check out Hosmer Lake and parked at the boat launch. Kids were splashing at the edge and I could see several fishermen casting into the deeper pools almost out of sight.

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Don’t let the darker and deeper waters near the boat launch fool you, after paddling out past the first 100 yards most of Hosmer is fairly shallow, which is where we could see why this was such a special place: the shallow waters and sandy bottom created the perfect combination to spot all kinds of fish swimming just a few feet below the boat.

The early summer day was warm, and the sky was the kind of endless blue that makes Central Oregon such a magical destination. Once I glimpsed the snow covered peaks of Mt. Bachelor and South Sister presiding over the riotous color of wild flowers, and I fell in love with Hosmer Lake.

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The lake proved to be like one giant treasure hunt. Hosmer Lake is made of many channels, and on the first one we paddled down, we discovered a spring at its edge near a rough lava field that had tumbled out of the nearby forest. Turning around and paddling up another channel, we wound our way in and around the floating islands of wildflowers in awe of the fish swimming below us, almost close enough to touch.

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If you brought your fly rod with you, get ready for an amazing day on the water. Check Fly and Field Outfitters’ Hosmer Lake report for what the fish are biting on or just try your luck!  The big Atlantic salmon, brook trout and rainbows can be skittish, as easily as we can see them, they can see us. But if you are up for the hunt, you couldn’t ask for a more picturesque setting.

The real treasure on this lake adventure is making your way to the far back side of the lake, paddling up the inlet until you can’t go any farther, and leaving the boats for a short walk upstream to a small waterfall.

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If the bugs aren’t out in force, this makes a great lunch spot. For those wishing to stretch their legs a bit, the Quinn Creek trail leads up the drainage, connecting to a series of other trails that will take you all over the Cascade Mountains.

After lunch and a short hike I found myself a little sleepy so decided on a snooze in my boat.

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All and all, an afternoon spent on Hosmer Lake is the perfect way to take in the wonders of Central Oregon. Whatever paddle craft you choose, canoe, kayak, paddle board, or pack raft, be sure to remember the sunscreen, bug spray and a camera.

If you need to rent a boat, several spots in Bend can set you up with just the right craft for your needs. Stand Up Paddle Bend offers day-rentals and Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe offers a full range of kayak, canoe, stand up paddle boards or even inner tubes.

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 www.adventureswithpackraft.blogspot.com.