A little gem of a lake located high up in the Cascades near Summit and Crescent Lake. Great campsites flank one area of the lake offering instant canoe launching spots. Picnic tables and a turn-around loop is also great for trailers. There is an upper and lower lake. The lower lake require a small canoe portage through the brush, but a fun afternoon canoe trip. There was only one campsite taken on a Friday afternoon in August! If you want to get away with comforts of vault toilets and picnic tables, this might be the spot. The mosquitos were pretty terrible though, so bring the bug spray. The road from Crescent Lake is really terrible, so I would recommend coming in via Hills Creek Reservoir. I have driven a lot of barely passable back roads in my life the road between Crescent Lake and Summit Lake is top on my list of roads I don’t want to drive again. I do not recommend it!
Located a few miles beyond Crescent Lake is my new favorite lake discovery. An absolutely pristine lake – you can see clear to the bottom in most of the areas I canoed. Fairly large in size, the lake offers infinite exploration along it’s volcanic shores. Spotted with tiny islands, it’s a boater-adventurers dream. Look for natural bonsais and tucked away secret canoe-in campsites. I did not see any algae blooms which was a great sign for this time of year. The mosquito’s weren’t too bad – not nearly as bad as nearby Timpanogas Lake. I have a feeling that there are many hidden secrets to this lake – including a canoe portage spot to secretly pass back over to the other side of the lake.
At around 5600-foot elevation Summit Lake is nestled in the Oregon Cascades Recreation Area. Diamond Peak looks over the lake and the Pacific Crest Trail runs near the west shore of the lake.
Directions – Note – the road in is in very poor condition. I would only recommend high clearance 4×4 vehicles – and even then it is pretty bad. On a personal note, the roads appear to have been torn up by off road vehicles/ATVs. I think there should be a law against off road vehicle/ATV use on established roads. The more time I spend exploring the back roads of Oregon the more apparent the damage these vehicles are doing to roads.
There are 2 different ways to reach the lake. You can take the back way through Oakridge and along Hills Creek Reservoir. The road is paved for a long time in and then turns to gravel. Though, once you reach the lake area, the road becomes extremely rough and I would only recommend high clearance 4x4s. The roads were better in the past but are getting worse each year.
You can also go in via Crescent Lake. From Highway 58, turn in the town of Crescent following the signs to Crescent Lake. Turn at the junction and follow NF Road 60 around the lake. Use a map from this point as it can be a little tricky. I can’t repeat enough that the road in is in horrible condition! Take with extreme caution and only a high clearance 4×4.
Ok – so the message is loud and clear about the road conditions, but the lake itself is a a true gem! It is worth the harrowing drive and has topped my previous favorite – Sparks Lake. If you have canoe camped Sparks lake, you will be equally impressed with Summit. Pictures coming soon and a quick write-up on Timpanogas Lake too.