Camping at the Lost Lake Resort and Campground in Oregon
It was around 15 years ago that I first discovered Lost Lake in the Mount Hood National Forest. I stumbled upon the lake and the Lost Lake Resort and Campground on the internet while looking for a place to camp for a night or two. We were on a trip to the Pacific Northwest and checking on Mount Hood was on the list. This was early on in my camping experience where two nights in a tent felt like a huge accomplishment and not only did I not own a camping stove, I did not even fathom purchasing one.
I always remembered the experience and knew it was a place I wanted to return. So it was not surprising that on a road trip near the area I had to include a night or two at Lost Lake, eager to show it to my kids. We were heading there from Bend, Oregon, where we had camped for the night. It was a drive that should have taken us three hours but wound up taking more as we had to make a few stops along the way (like the Crescent Moon Ranch where alpacas are bred and raised).
A Bit Off Schedule
As a result of our stops wound up arriving at the Lost Lake Resort and Campground later than anticipated. No surprise really; I don’t think we have ever made it to a campsite at the time we planned…much less early. Fortunately, the general store at the campground was still open, even though darkness was quickly descending. We checked in and began setting up our tents. It is a good thing we had so much experience doing this; setting up a tent in the dark had become a breeze.
Since it was dark we did not get a good view of the campground and surrounding area. The campsite itself was pretty special, spread out into several levels and very private. After a quick meal we headed to bed, looking forward to a full day of adventure when we woke up. I hoped that the area was as awesome as I remembered it.
An Early Start
I woke before the others, which is always my preference. I love having some quiet time in the cool mountain air, a cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. As the others woke we all had a nice breakfast and then my son and I decided to take a little hike around the lake. We knew we were right near it, but had not seen it as of yet; we were surrounded by tall trees. I remembered a trail I had taken years back that circled the lake and I was determined to track it down. With no intention of swimming, I did not change into my swimsuit, though my son was ready for a quick dip.
We were easily able to access the Lakeshore trail, which circles the lake, from our campsite. My son located a way down to the lake from the trail and waded in. I followed him and finally realized that I had no ability to resist and soon we were both swimming. We swam for a bit, enjoying the cool water and the scenery, which was exactly as I remembered. We walked through the water together, exploring different parts of the lake. We got out at a different place than where we went in, making it a bit challenging to find our way back to the campsite. That did give us time to dry off at least.
By the time my son and I had returned, the rest of the family was ready to start exploring the area. We happened to have some friends that were also visiting the area and we arranged to meet them at the Columbia River Gorge near Hood River.
The Columbia River Gorge
Getting to the gorge took around 30 minutes and the drive offered great views of Mount Hood as well as quite a few orchards. During my last visit I had been unaware of the gorge and I was excited to see what exactly it was. We made a quick stop for coffee in Hood River, which had grown quite a bit since my last visit from a quirky town to a small city. We soon arrived at our destination. The gorge was well worth visiting; the area was like a beach, with calm water from the river to swim in. Bright colored sails were all over as it is a popular spot for parasailing and windsurfing.
In addition to the beautiful scenery we found our friends and our kids enjoyed splashing around in the water and catching up. We probably could have stayed there all day but there was so much more in the area to check out. We departed at the same time as our friends, determined to check out a waterfall in the area along the gorge.
We said goodbye to our friends and then went to check out one of the nearby waterfalls. The Columbia River Gorge is known for its waterfalls in the area and while it was getting late in the day, we did not want to miss out on the opportunity to catch at least one.
Into a Waterfall
While the trail up to the waterfall was steep, it was short and the waterfall was well worth the climb. We crossed a small creek and continued up, with the trail becoming rockier. We glanced up, viewing the water as it cascading down the rocky side of the mountain. There was a small pool at the bottom of the falls and we waded into it. The water was chilly, but as always I could not walk away from an opportunity to get right into a waterfall. I took a quick dip under the water, almost slipping on the rocks as I tried to leave the cold water of the falls. I felt exhilarated; there really is nothing like getting into a waterfall!
The kids played around in the small pool and climbed around on the surrounding rocks. It was getting late in the day and the kids had been promised ice cream before our return to the campsite. After a stop at a convenience store in the town of Hood River, we drove back to our campsite, where we made dinner and headed to bed, satisfied with a full day of adventure.
More Adventure to be Had
It was another early morning for me and I enjoyed relaxing with my coffee. I would look at the sky above andsmile at the peacefulness.
Part of me thought I should get the others moving and part of me wanted to continue to enjoy the quiet. Soon the choice was made for me as the others climbed out of their tents and were ready for breakfast. My husband and I discussed our plans for the day; he wanted to go get groceries and I wanted to go hiking and take the kids kayaking on the lake. We had been scheduled to leave the campground that day, however I was enjoying it so much I let my husband know that I would love to spend another night there. He agreed and went to the general store to see if we could stay while I went and started my hike.
One of the great things about the campground is that accessing hiking trails is easy. I walked along a small road from our campsite that was lined with wild raspberries and found a trailhead for the Lost Lake Butte trail. I did not know anything about it, but was soon on my way. The trail was about two miles long and fairly steep. I did not initially intend to hike to the top of the trail, however once I got going I did not want to turn around. It was a beautiful hike. When I got to the top I had a view of surrounding mountains, including Mount Hood. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day so the views were not very clear. Still, it had been a great workout. Already gone for longer than I had intended, I hurried down the trail and back to the campsite, snacking on berries as I went.
On the Water
I was energized from the hike, or maybe from the sugar of the berries. My husband confirmed we could stay at our campsite for another night and after relaxing a bit with the kids we walked to the general store, which offered kayak rentals. The kids were excited to try kayaking on the lake and I was just hoping I would be able to keep up.
We were able to choose one or two person kayaks. Technically you were supposed to be 13 to get your own kayak, however my son at 10 was the most experienced of all of us. He got his own kayak and I got a two person one to share with my daughter. Once out on the lake, I was reminded how challenging kayaking is…particularly when in a two person one with my daughter who is not a fan of paddling.
We kayaked across the lake to shore...my son handling his kayak with ease and myself struggling with the added weight of my daughter. We got out of our kayaks at the shore, pulling them up onto land. After a short break we were back at it. We paddled to another part of the lake, and then another. It was exhausting, but the kids loved it. My son could have kayaked all day but I finally had to direct us back. I was beat! Fortunately, we made it back to shore and we were all rewarded with an ice cream. Myself included.
Back at the campsite, we met up with my husband and decided to take a quick dip in the lake and then visit Hood River for dinner. After the lake I took a quick shower. The campground has showers you can pay to use and you can shower for as long as you like. After the kayaking it was wonderful. And the showers were very clean. After changing we headed to Hood River, where we enjoyed a nice dinner and watched the sunset while the kids played at the gorge. A perfect evening.
Our Last Day
Not surprisingly I was up first, though not much before everyone else. Since we had planned to leave the day prior, we knew we wanted to get an early start. But I could not resist one more hike. I decided to take the same trail I had the day before; the day was perfectly clear and I wanted to see the view of Mount Hood with clear skies. I moved fast to get to the top as quickly as possible. it was well worth the effort as I was rewarded with a gorgeous view of Mount Hood. I was disappointed that my camera was out of battery, however a nice family offered to take a picture of me with Mount Hood in the background and then text it to me.
Knowing that my family was probably packed and ready to go, I jogged down the trail and back to the campsite.
On our way out of the area we had a few stops to make; first a blueberry orchard where we picked berries from rows and rows of blueberry trees. And then it was off to pick peaches. We walked away with way more fruit than we could possibly eat before it went bad. But picking it all was a blast.
As we headed out of Hood River, we stopped at the gorge for a quick dip in the river. While my husband and kids swam and played, I enjoyed watching the brightly colored sails make their way across the water. In contrast to the clear blue sky, the view was breathtaking.
Our next stop was calling and we were soon off to Spokane, Washington. Lost Lake, Hood River and Mount Hood were in our rearview mirror as we drove, and my mind was already trying to figure out when we could come back.