On a hot day in July, my husband and I decided to beat the Central Oregon heat by venturing off to the Cascade Lakes highway for a nice hike. Temperatures in Bend were supposed to be in the 90s making the temperatures in the Cascades a comfortable mid to high 70s. With a 13 month old daughter and 2 dogs, we are always up for trying new easy to moderate hikes that are scenic and not too busy with people.
We received a recommendation from a co-worker to check out the Six Lakes Trail which was about a 30 minute drive outside of Bend, 2 miles past the popular Elk Lake Resort. From the highway, you will see a sign that says “Trailhead” on the right hand side, so it is important that you only go 2 miles past Elk Lake. Along the Six Lakes trail you will find Blow Lake, Doris Lake, Senoj Lake, Cliff Lake, Porky Lake and Mink Lake. We chose to venture on to Doris Lake which is 3 miles from the trailhead. Porky Lake and Mink Lake are about 8.5 miles from the trailhead and would make for a great backpacking trip.
For our day trip we packed lunches, water, sunscreen and lots of bug spray. The mosquitos were the only downfall to the hike and thankfully we came prepared. We applied bug spray 3 separate times and unfortunately still got a few bites.
You begin the trail walking through a thin forest of pines. You will notice many downed trees, but the forest service has done a great job keeping the pathway clear. We were able to keep our dogs off leash as we only encountered a few other hikers. Within 1 mile you will come to Blow Lake and there are several access points along the lake. We stopped briefly to allow ours dogs to cool down and play in the water and hiked another 2 miles to Doris Lake.
Doris Lake has crystal clear water and several nice areas to stop for lunch. We walked along the lake and found a great spot next to the water with a few downed trees that were perfect for sitting on. Our daughter and dogs played in the water while we ate lunch. From areas of the lake, you can see the backside of Mt. Bachelor, South Sister and Broken Top mountains.
In all, we hiked 7.5 miles and it was an easy day hike. The trail itself had a very mild incline and was very manageable with a pack for toddler and a backpack. To complete the trip, we stopped off at Elk Lake resort for some ice cream.
A National Forest Pass is required and are available for purchase at the FivePine Lodge front desk for $5.