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18 of the Best and Prettiest Lakes in Oregon

By | Last Updated : 25th January 2020

Comprising of stunning lakes, rivers, streams, forests, snowtopped mountains, valleys, and virgin coastlines, Oregon is a haven for tourists from across the world. This state has an abundance of beautiful lakes numbering around 1400 located in its lofty mountains, to parched deserts, and alongside the shorelines of the Pacific Ocean. Let us explore some of the breathtaking and pristine lakes of this remarkable destination.

Lakes in Oregon

Lakes in Southern Oregon

1. Crater Lake, Klamath County

Crater Lake in Oregon

Best Crater Lake in Oregon Crater Lakes in Southern Oregon

One of the cleanest lakes in the entire States has an astounding depth of 1942 feet. The deepest lake in Southern Oregon came into existence when the top portion of the Mount Mazama broke down. It is one of the major lakes with jaw-dropping crystal clear, bright blue water encompassed with dramatic landscape.It is located at the Crater Lake National Park, 60 miles southeast of Klamath Falls. Two islands inside the lake, namely the Wizard Island and the Phantom Ship, can also be visited.

Fishing: Vacationers can go for license-free fishing at the nearby Cleetwood Trail and Wizard Island. For protecting the purity of the lake, organic baiting like salmon eggs and power baiting are prohibited.Fish varieties found are kokanee salmon and rainbow trout.

Other Popular Activities: Camping,hiking (trails of Mount Scott, Plaikni waterfall, Sun Notch), swimming, scuba diving, backpacking, and mountain biking.

Best time to visit: Mid June-September

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2. Crescent Lake, Klamath County

Crescent Lake in Oregon

Best Crescent Lake in Oregon

The 4,008-acres crescent-shaped natural lake carved out of age-old icy sediments is situated on the eastern portion of the Cascade Mountains within the Deschutes National Forest.  This scenic lake of Southern Oregon boasts of a pristine sandy shoreline measuring 12 miles, providing exclusive opportunities for picnicking. The lake is located 2.5 miles northeast of the Crescent Lake State Airport.

Fishing: Fishing boats are available on a rental basis. Visitors get to catch fish like size able brown trout and lake or mackinaw trout, blue trout, big rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, and mountain whitefish.

Other Popular Activities: Camping, hiking, riding, snowmobiling, hunting, dog sled racing, mountain biking, and watersports (boating, water skiing, wakeboarding, sailing, and tubing).

Best time to visit: All round the year

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3. Diamond Lake, Douglas County

Diamond Lakes in Oregon

Diamond Lakes in Southern Oregon Best Diamond Lakes in Oregon

The Diamond Lake is situated 60 miles east of Roseburg, in the Umpqua National Forest sandwiched between Mount Bailey and Mount Thielsen. The total diameter of the Southern Oregon lake is around 2,824 acres, encircled by towering alpine pines and firs, showcasing a magnificent panoramic view.

Fishing: Fish varieties like rainbow trout, apart from brown trout, largemouth bass, yellow perch, and bullheads can be caught. Motorized fishing boats can also be rented, usually in the months between April and early June. Ice-fishing is also practiced during the cold winter months.

Other Popular Activities: Camping, hiking (Pacific Crest Trail, and bicycle trail), paddle boarding, hunting, horseback riding, winter sports (skiing, snowmobiling, inner tubing, and sled dog racing).

Best time to visit: End April-October

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4. Upper Klamath Lake, Klamath County

Upper Klamath Lakes in Oregon

Upper Klamath Lakes in Southern Oregon Best Upper Klamath Lakes in Oregon

This is the largest freshwater lake located at about 4,133 feet, encompassing an area of 61,544 acres, extending for more than 30 miles.The shallow waterbody is situated within the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 29 miles from Klamath Falls in Southern Oregon. It is one of the approved sailing lakes in the entire States, due to its massive proportions. Due to the abundance of blue-green algae in some portions of the lake, it is not recommended for swimming and water sports.

Fishing: Fish like rainbow trout, pumpkinseed sunfish, yellow perch, kokanee salmon, white and black crappie, largemouth bass, and shortnose sucker are available for the anglers. However, the coho salmon is a species protected by the authorities.

Other Popular Activities: Camping, hiking (Upper Klamath Canoe Trail), biking, bird watching, picnicking, sailing, boating, paddle boarding, water sports (water skiing, and powerboating),

Best time to visit: June-September

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5. Applegate Lake, Jackson County

Applegate Lakes in Oregon

Applegate Lakes in Southern Oregon Best Applegate Lakes in Oregon

It is a 988-acre natural, dazzling blue reservoir with some artificial modifications situated about 15 miles south-west of Medford in the Rogue River National Forest. With an average depth of 85 feet, the lake has remarkably cold water.

Fishing: Amongst fish varieties, local fish like rainbow trout, Klamath small scale suckers, cutthroat, and steelhead trout, chinook, and coho salmon are prized catches. In contrast,exotic varieties include the largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill, brown bullhead, and the yellow perch.

Other Popular Activities: Camping, hiking (Grouse Loop trek, Collings Mountain Loop, Stein Butte Trail), motor boating, and lake kayaking.

Best time to visit: June-July

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Lakes in Northern Oregon

6. Trillium Lake, Clackamas County

Trillium Lakes in Oregon

Trillium Lakes in Northern Oregon

It is a spectacular 65-acre man-made lake formed by blocking the Mud Creek, a streamlet of Salmon Creek.  It is located 7 miles south-west of Mount Hood in the picturesque Mount Hood National Forest, a spot for experienced skiers and hikers. The area is a dog-friendly zone, but the animals should be in proper leashes.

Fishing: Fish varieties like big rainbow trout, giant brood trout, and steelhead trout can be caught from the fishing pier at the lake.

Other Popular Activities: Camping, swimming, kayaking, bicycling, mountain biking, hiking (Trillium Lake Loop Trail), and snow-skiing.

Best time to visit: Mid May-September

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7.  Oswego Lake, Clackamas County

Oswego Lakes in Oregon

Oswego Lakes in Northern Oregon Best Oswego Lakes in Oregon

The 431-acres spectacular lake was formed naturally out of an old channel of the Tualatin River. It lies just 8 miles south of Portland. Due to the abundance of wild swans in the lake, the locals refer to it as “waluga” which means swan. The weather of the lake is warm and dry during summer while it is cold, wet, and cloudy during winter, with temperatures dipping to 50F.

Fishing: Visitors can enjoy catching fish such as rainbow, steelhead, and brown trout, coho and chinook salmon, smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, channel catfish, bullhead, pan fish, sheepshead, and carp.

Other Popular Activities: Camping, swimming, boating, and picnicking.

Best time to visit: July-September

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8. Wallowa Lake, Wallowa County

Wallowa Lakes in Northern Oregon

Wallowa Lakes in Oregon Best Wallowa Lakes in Oregon

It is located at 4373-feet above sea-level, and is a 3 miles long finger-shaped lake formed by a series of ancient glaciers. The hidden waterbody is located 1 mile south of Joseph and adjoined by the Wallowa Lake State Park, which is at the southern point of the lake.

Fishing: Travelers are offered with diverse fishing options like rainbow trout, steelhead trout, eastern brook trout, mackinaw, kokanee salmon, and the smallmouth bass.

Other Popular Activities: Camping, swimming, paddle boarding, canoeing, horseback riding, water-skiing.

Best time to visit: March-November

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9. Lost Lake, Hood River County

Lost Lakes in Oregon

Lost Lakes in Northern Oregon Best Lost Lakes in Oregon

It is a 244-acres hidden lake situated 10.1 miles northwest of Mount Hood and having a maximum depth of 175 feet. One of the scenic aspects of this lake is the stunning sunrise and sunset along its shore. Lost Lake gets its unique name, as it disappears in the winter months, when the snowdrift of the Mt. Hood freezes, cutting its water inflow. While, in the summer months, when the snow defrosts, the lake is again inundated.

Fishing: Vacationers get to catch normal-sized rainbow trout in the spring months of March to May. Larger rainbow trouts can be captured in mid June; other types include the brown trout, brook trout, and the sockeye salmon. Metal fishing boats are available on a rental basis.

Other Popular Activities: Camping, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, hiking, birdwatching, hunting, and wildlife watching.

Best time to visit: July-September

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10. Ice Lake, Wallowa County

Ice Lakes in Oregon

Ice Lakes in Northern Oregon Best Ice Lakes in Oregon

It is situated within the Wallowa Mountains in the Eagle Cap Wilderness zone and is 14.5 miles from the city of Enterprise.Located at a height of 7,900 feet above sea level,this is one of the highest blue alpine lakes.  Its twin is the Ice Cube Lake, a tiny icy waterhole, which is less than 2 miles away. Two of the tallest mountains of Eastern Oregon, namely the Sacajawea and Matterhorn, form a backdrop for this lake.

Fishing: Travelers flock the lake during the summer months to catch fish like rainbow trout, lake trout or mackinaw, brook trout, kokanee salmon. In winter too, trouts can be captured by the visitors.

Other Popular Activities: Camping, hiking (Ice Lake trail)

Best time to visit: July-August

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11. Fishhawk Lake, Clatsop County

Fishhawk Lakes in Oregon

Fishhawk Lakes in Northern Oregon Best Fishhawk Lakes in Oregon

For providing recreational facilities to the affluent lakefront communities, a 40-foot high dam was constructed on the Nehalem River to form this 100-acres of artificial lake.The hidden lake is located at about 9.1 miles from Clatskanie. Many small rivulets drain into the lake, which in turn empties in the Fishhawk Creek.

Fishing: Tourists should obtain official fishing license to catch the steelhead and cutthroat trout, apart from salmon. For protecting the fish and the serene lake, only non-mechanized fishing boats are available.

Other Popular Activities: Kayaking, canoeing, row boating, pontooning, and paddle boarding.

Best time to visit: May-October

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Lakes in Western Oregon

12. Waldo Lake, Lane County

Waldo Lakes in Oregon

Waldo Lakes in Western Oregon Best Waldo Lakes in Oregon

It is the second-largest and deepest freshwater lake located around 18 miles east of Oakridge. Besides, the 5,414-feet waterbody falls between the cities of Eugene and Bend, and in the Cascade Mountains around the periphery of the Waldo Lake Wilderness Area. Named in 1971, after a local John B. Wald, the clearest lake has a diameter of 6,700-acres with a maximum depth of 420-feet and observability of over 150-feet. Due to the very high level of oxygen in the lake, the water always looks blue and crystal clear.

Fishing: This lake provides fish varieties like kokanee or land-locked sockeye salmon, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and brook trout. Fishing can be quite challenging inside the lake, where the depth is more than 400-feet at some points, although fish can be caught near the shores from June to end October between early morning to late night. To locate the fish in deep waters, fish finders employing fly fishing techniques are used in electric motorboats, canoes, or kayaks.

Other Popular Activities: Camping, swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, and hiking.

Best time to visit: End August-early October

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13. Clear Lake, Linn County

Clear Lakes in Western Oregon

Best Clear Lakes in Oregon Clear Lakes in Oregon

The 3,000-feet high remote alpine lake is the source of McKenzie River and is located 86 miles northeast of Eugene. The prime water source for this lake is the snow draining through caverns from the nearby Mount Washington. The crystal clear waterbody is frigid cold with spine chilling temperatures of about 35-43oF.

Fishing: Holidaymakers get ample chance to catch the brook and cutthroat trout that are native to the lake. They can also find the rainbow trout that is stocked yearly by the authorities.

Other Popular Activities: Camping with cabins, hiking (Clear Lake Trail, and McKenzie River Trail), freshwater diving, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and biking.

Best time to visit: April-October

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14. Detroit Lake, Linn & Marion Counties

Detroit Lakes in Oregon

Best Detroit Lakes in Oregon Detroit Lakes in Western Oregon

It is a 3459-acres freshwater reservoir formed by the Detroit Dam on the North Santiam River situated 46 miles southeast of Salem. The repository is the prime water source for the cities of Salem and Detroit. The maximum depth of the lake is at 440 feet.

Fishing: Fish varieties available are rainbow trout, fingerling rainbow, cutthroat trout, brook  trout, chinook salmon, kokanee salmon, brown bullhead catfish, largemouth, and smallmouth bass. Boat rentals are available for fishing. A large bounty can be landed during the summer months. Bait fishing technique is practiced usually in the deep waters of the lake.

Other Popular Activities: Camping, picnicking, hiking, swimming, boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, water sports (water skiing and wakeboarding), snow skiing, sledding, and snowmobiling.

Best time to visit: All round the year

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Lakes in Eastern Oregon

15. Strawberry Lake, Grant County

Strawberry Lakes in Oregon

Strawberry Lakes in Western Oregon Best Strawberry Lakes in Oregon

The enchanting lake is situated in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness Area about 10 miles south of Prairie City at an altitude of 6,000 feet. The 36-acres lake is one of the largest among other icy lakes in the Strawberry Mountains but is very shallow with a maximum depth of 27 feet.

Fishing: Travelers have  to obtain a fishing license to catch fish like the brook and the rainbow trouts by baiting techniques.

Other Popular Activities: Camping, hiking (Strawberry Mountain trail, and Little Strawberry Lake trail), and skiing.

Best time to visit: July-October

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Lakes in Central Oregon

16. Paulina Lake, Deschutes County

Paulina Lakes in Western Oregon

Paulina Lakes in Oregon Best Paulina Lakes in Oregon

This little-known 6,331-feet high crater lake falls within the Newberry Crater around 13 miles from La Pine. It measures around 1,531-acres with a maximum depth of 250 feet. As it is a protected zone for fishing, motorized watersports such as jet skis, and waterskiing activities over ten mph is strictly prohibited.

Fishing: Vacationers flock the lake to catch big kokanee salmon, apart from rainbow trout, which is cultivated by the authorities during summer months.Other varieties include the brown trout, blue, and tui chub.

Other Popular Activities: Camping, soaking in hot springs, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and cross-country snowmobile skiing.

Best time to visit: May-September.

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17. Cascade Lakes, Deschutes County

Cascade Lakes in Oregon

Cascade Lakes in Western Oregon Best Cascade Lakes in Oregon

It is a conglomeration of 12 natural and a few artificial reservoirs spread across the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway in Central Oregon. Starting at the Bend city, the lakes’ trail twists along the hills for about 66 miles with breathtaking views of Mount Bachelor and Broken Top.The collection includes Todd, Sparks, Devils, Elk, Hosmer, Lava, Little Lava, Cultus, Little Cultus lakes at the west-south portion of the trail, while Crane Prairie Reservoir, North and South Twin Lakes, Wickiup Reservoir, and the Davis Lake falls at the south end.

Fishing: Travelers can engage in fishing pursuits in the lakes of Davis, Devils, Hosmer to catch local varieties like the rainbow, brown, brook, lake (Mackinaw), and cutthroat trouts. Other types include Kokanee, Coho, and Atlantic salmons, grass carp, yellow perch, bluegill, and largemouth bass.

Other Popular Activities: Camping with cabins, hiking (Tumalo Mountain, and South Sister trails), horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing, boating, rafting, swimming, mountain biking, water-skiing, and winter sports (cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling).

Best time to visit: June-October

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18. Lake Billy Chinook, Jefferson County

Lake Billy Chinook in Oregon

Lake Billy Chinook in Western Oregon Best Billy Chinook Lakes in Oregon

It is a 3953-acres artificial lake located approximately 20 miles from Culver, central Oregon situated within a gorge at the convergence of the rivers of Crooked, Deschutes, and Metolius. The lake is named after Billy Chinook, a local tribal resident. The water is not recommended for swimming or drinking, as it is severely affected by harmful toxins from blue-green algae or cyanobacteria growing in the lake.

Fishing: Before engaging in fishing pursuits, tourists are cautioned to avoid the cyanobacteria-affected portions of the lake. Fish varieties available include smallmouth and largemouth bass, bull, rainbow, and brown trouts, sockeye, kokanee, and chinook salmons.

Other Popular Activities: Camping, boating, kayaking, sailing, jet-skiing, water-skiing.

Best time to visit: Mid June-September

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Thus the profusion of breathtaking lakes in Oregon reflects the diverse panorama of few of the largest, deepest, and sparkingly transparent water bodies in the country. These picturesque lakes supplemented with numerous hiking trails, endless fishing activities, and enjoyable campgrounds captivate the tourists across the country and beyond.

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