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Todd Lake

Todd Lake is the first pond that visitors come to when following the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway out of Bend—and the highest-elevation lake along the route—and offers a dramatic introduction to the region’s natural wonders.

Just a half hour from downtown, Todd Lake is a beautiful destination in its own right—but also makes a popular jumping-off point for popular trails in the surrounding Three Sisters Wilderness.

The 45-acre Todd Lake sits within a glacial cirque that likely formed up to 13,000 years ago. It sits surrounded by alpine meadows and forests of fir—and makes a lovely place to go picnicking on warm, sunny days. A 1.7-mile, mostly flat loop trail circles the lake while showcasing occasional views of Broken Top and Mount Bachelor—both of which seem close enough to touch. (Listen for the song of the Western toad and the ribbit of the Cascades frog, both of which call Todd Lake home.) Those wishing to extend their stay can pitch a tent at three walk-in sites that offer picturesque lake views.

From Todd Lake, hikers can enter the Three Sisters Wilderness and access some of Central Oregon’s most popular trails and destinations—including the Soda Creek Trail, Green Lakes, and Broken Top. Anyone hiking those trails between June 15 and October 15 must have a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit before setting off.

Open Season

Late May-Nov.

Dog Friendly and/or Leash Rules

Leashed dogs are permitted—but can go off-leash while swimming in the lake.

Best time to visit


Don’t Miss

Enjoy an October outing for a bit more solitude and brisk afternoons.

Fees or Pass Needed

A Forest Pass ($5 per day pass or $30 per annual pass) or America the Beautiful pass ($80 per annual pass) is accepted; a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit is also required June 15-Oct. 15 if hiking into the Three Sisters Wilderness. (No Central Cascades Wilderness Permit is required if only hiking the loop trail around the lake.)


Motorized boats are prohibited on Todd Lake. Also, visitors should not remove tadpoles or frogs from Todd Lake.





Paddle Water Sports


There is a large parking area at the Todd Lake Trailhead—and parking along the entry road is available. Try to arrive by 9 a.m. for a close parking spot on summer weekends.


From Bend, the 24-mile drive to Todd Lake takes about 35 minutes via SW Century Drive, which becomes the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.

Other stories

More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.

  • Local's Guide to the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway
    Local's Guide to the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway

    Views of the Cascade Range abound all over Central Oregon, but are never more dramatic than from along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway—a seasonal highway that heads southwest of Bend and into the heart of the mountains. Along the way, visitors can swim or paddle in more than a dozen alpine lakes, admire views of the snow-capped peaks that seem to rise from their shorelines, camp under starry night skies and traverse some of the region’s best-loved hiking trails.

  • Explaining the Central Cascades Wilderness Permit Program
    Explaining the Central Cascades Wilderness Permit Program

    Summer in the Central Oregon outdoors will look different this year, due largely to the unveiling of the Central Cascades Wilderness Permit System. Years in the making, the new system will cap the number of day-use and overnight visitors to some of the region’s most popular trails — including Green Lakes and Soda Creek, Broken Top, South Sister, and the Tam MacArthur Rim trails.