Taking the unknown road: How I “discovered” Oregon’s Lost Lake by trying to get lost myself

One of my favorite adventures these days setting off on a random road in search of something new. Whether it’s a possible scenic route on a long drive or just wandering around near a local spot, its amazing what you can find if you leave the freeway and turn a few times. Of course not every drive is a success and sometimes the sights I expect to find manages to elude me but more often than not the unknown road is well worth the detour.

Road up from Panamint to Death Valley Proper

Interesting buildings, fun local shops, wacky gifts, great meals, there’s a lot I’ve experienced wandering through smaller towns and a lot of amazing people I’ve met along the way but my main purpose is really finding new views. That’s what led me to venture to Oregon’s Lost Lake, a place which I’m sure is well known but was not to me, until now.

Adventuring to Lost Lake:

My first encounter with Lost Lake came a few months ago when I decided to make the “scenic” route home from Mount Hood into an even longer ride by heading through Hood River’s Orchard farms for a view of the trees and the mountain. Along the way I noticed a small sign for some place called Lost Lake and while the snow conditions pretty much insured it was far from accessible on that drive, I filed away the thought for another day.

Welcome to Lost Lake

Fast forward to the present (i.e. May 3rd, 2017) and I’m headed through Hood River once again so what do I do? Go exploring of course.

The Forest Service lists the Lost Lake campground as closed but you never really know until you go so I figured what the heck: I have a tank of gas, plenty of snacks and a snow-friendly 4×4, let’s find out. After an incredible drive through the forest, past logging land, and then up a road with snowbanks that grew & grew some more, I found myself looking at the Lost Lake sign. Success!

Mount Hood from Lost Lake, 2017 Spring View

Snow from the west coast’s endless winter still blankets the park but a small road has been cleared out leading to a parking lot by a path down to the lake. Climbing over the [short] snowy trail to the banks of the lake was like a kid in a candy shop as the lake, the forest, and the mountain (that’s Hood) all opened up with every step.

Mount Hood's Reflection in Lost Lake

It was certainly a winning adventure and Lost Lake is now a place on my list of summer stops. Next time I’ll have a tent, firewood and a tripod of course but even just for a brief stop, it was incredible. Just like it’s said that you should always get the window seat (on a day flight), I say take the random road at least for a few miles, you never know what you may find.

More About Lost Lake:

Lost Lake is located north of Mount Hood a few miles from Lolo Pass Road. While snow limits access to the lake through Winter and much of Spring, the lake looks to be an incredible spot to explore in summer and fall. With a large campground and a resort with a store, it’s a well developed area for sure though far out off the main road too (~20 miles from highway 20). The lake has hiking and bike trails, horseback riding, fishing and of course an incredible view of Mount Hood.