Oregon is home to a lot of outdoor greatness: fishing, hiking, mountains and lakes. It’s also a place with many wonderful opportunities to check off all four of those particular boxes in one fell swoop. Plus, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife ups anglers’ odds by stocking millions of trout in alpine lakes, reservoirs and ponds every year. So grab your fishing gear and hiking boots, get your fishing license, and head to one of these three great mountain lakes to cast a line.
Sitting high and pretty at an elevation of 5,200 feet in Central Oregon’s Ochoco Mountains, Walton Lake is tucked below soaring old-growth ponderosas that sway in the alpine breezes. The 18-acre lake is home to lively rainbow trout, which ODFW stocks multiple times in spring and early summer. A peaceful trail encircles the lake, allowing for multiple casting spots, and a boat launch makes it a cinch to drop in a kayak, canoe or raft. (Only electric motors are allowed on Walton.) Find a grocery store and a few great spots to eat and drink in Prineville, about 30 miles southwest — but between fishing, swimming, boating, bird-watching and just taking in the view, it’s not hard to pass the time pleasantly without leaving the shore at all.
If You Go:
The Walton Lake Campground offers 30 scenic, reservable spots on either side of the lake, including five that are walk-in, tent-only sites. If the campground’s full, the rustic first-come, first-served Wildwood Campground is not far away. Also nearby is the Lookout Mountain Upper Trailhead and other connected trails that can make for a great hike to the plateau summit of Lookout Mountain. From there you’ll take in stunning, far-reaching views of the Cascade Range.
The long, remote access to this scenic lake south of Mt. Hood and north of Mt. Jefferson keeps the crowds down, but the fishing opportunities here are great. ODFW stocks Olallie Lake with rainbow trout annually, as it does other lakes nearby, including Head, Elk and First. Want to cast your line from something that floats? The retro Olallie Lake Resort rents out rowboats, canoes, kayaks and paddleboats. With its singular view of Mt. Jefferson to the south, Olallie Lake is truly a unique setting for anglers of any interest and ability. You can’t swim in Olallie — the lake is a source of drinking water for the resort and campgrounds — but there are more than 40 other lakes in the surrounding Olallie Lakes Scenic Area, many of which are ideal for a cooling dip when the mercury’s rising. Make sure everyone in the family wears a personal flotation device when swimming.
If You Go:
Campers will find lots of accommodations near Olallie Lake, including the Paul Dennis, Olallie Meadow and Triangle Lake campgrounds, all of which are first come, first served and sit at varying distances from the lake. Olallie Lake Resort also has 10 cabins and two yurts for rent. A nice stroll along the Olallie Lake Trail follows the shores of the lake with great vistas, while the longer Olallie Meadows-Olallie Lake Loop hike provides a chance to explore more of the scenic area surrounding Olallie Lake, including flower-filled meadows, lovely alpine lakes and dramatic topographical features like Olallie Butte.
About 75 miles southeast of Eugene near Willamette Pass, Odell Lake is a big, blue, beautiful body of freshwater that stretches for 6 miles among a classic Cascade forest of spruce, hemlock and fir. The lake, backed by Diamond Peak, is renowned for its rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, whitefish and lake trout, also known as Mackinaw. In fact, the largest lake trout ever caught in Oregon, a 40-plus-pounder, was pulled from Odell Lake in 1984. There are also bull trout here, but they’re listed as a threatened species so they remain off limits.
Because of the lake’s size, Odell is best fished by boat, which the Odell Lake Lodge & Resort will happily rent to you. Also, because of its expanse, the lake is popular with all kinds of recreationalists, including sailors, motorboaters, jet skiers, paddleboarders and others. Check with the lodge to book those activities as well as guided horseback riding, horse and buggy tours and more.
If You Go:
At least three lakeside campgrounds beckon campers to Odell’s shores: Sunset Cove, Princess Creek and Trapper Creek. Odell Lake Lodge & Resort also has a campground, as well as a lodge and cabins. To step away from the bustle of Odell Lake, consider a hike to the nearby Rosary Lakes, three crystalline tarns along the epic Pacific Crest Trail. Lower Rosary is home to naturally reproducing brook trout, and ODFW stocks Middle Rosary with rainbow trout.