Pippin’s a great dog in a thousand ways, and my in-laws like to call him my shadow. We both prefer to go on romps un-tethered, however, and as of September 15, in certain areas in Central Oregon, we can.

The Deschutes National Forest unleashes its restrictions on dogs each autumn, and that means you and your pup can run amuck in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area to a beautiful, sparkling, alpine lake. At 6,150 feet, Todd Lake is the highest lake in the Cascade Mountains, one of the most beautiful, and one of the most popular.

This 45-acre jewel is encircled by alpine meadows and fir forests and offers spectacular views of Broken Top and Mount Bachelor. A moderate 2.5-mile loop wraps around the lake serving up plenty of opportunities for your dog to splash, play and drink. More good news: The crisp night air has chased away the mosquitoes that like to frequent the area in summer, as well as the swarming throngs of hikers.

For the more ambitious, the Todd Lake Trail intersects with the Broken Top Trail, which will take you six miles (one way) to the extinct volcano, carved bare and beautiful from glaciers. You may find some horseback riders on these trails, so while your dog is busy prancing hither and yon, please make sure he/she’s under your voice command at all times.

To get there: From Bend, travel 24.0 miles west on Cascade Lakes Highway (#46), then half-mile north on Forest Road 4600-370 to Todd Lake Trailhead. It is a mere half-mile hike to into the lake.

The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway plays host to a number of sparkling alpine lakes that you and your dog will love, including Elk Lake, Sparks Lake and Cultus Lake. Note: Get while the getting is good. The Cascade Lakes Highway closes in the winter and won’t re-open until the snow melts.

Nearby Pet-Friendly Lodging:
Elk Lake Resort
Cultus Lake Resort
Entrada Lodge, Bend

More Good News from Bend:

Dog Fancy magazine awarded Bend, Oregon as the runner-up in their “DogTown’s Top Cities for Dogs” survey, saying, “Oregon has a reputation as a great place for outdoorsy people. During the past decade, its seventh largest city has earned the same for dogs. Trails, parks and other venues have joined in welcoming the doggie set into the fun.”

DogPac is a great non-profit organization of volunteers, all working to create, improve and maintain leash-free dog trails in Central Oregon.

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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