Most trips to my favorite lake on Mount Hood — Lost Lake — are full of the same kinds of experiences: stunning views of the mountain, refreshing swims, quiet paddles out into the middle, and plenty of newts.
For good reason, Lost Lake is almost always kind of full of other people, too. But there’s something about the crowds at Lost Lake that actually adds to the experience somehow. All the people swimming and playing, fishing and boating — having fun and enjoying life out there on the water — combined with the lake’s rustic cabins and painted rowboats, gives it a classic summertime feel; like summer camp as a kid.
All that said, however, it’s also nice to have Lost Lake on a beautiful day almost all to yourself. That’s exactly what happened a couple weeks ago, when my family was out from Ohio, school was still in, and the weather was perfect for a day on Lost Lake.
Sure, it can be a little crowded — popular might be a better word — and a touch loud close in near the boat ramp, but there is something about Lost Lake on Mount Hood that absolutely spills out summertime.
Part of it is the nostalgic air of the rustic resort (which just sold for $1.2 million to some lucky someone who will hopefully maintain its endless charm), the rowboats, the campfire smells, the chill lake — just brisk enough to refresh, just clear and calm enough to lounge about in for a while.
A simple stroll encircles Lost Lake as well, and despite the crowds on hot summer days, it still seems that you’re always able to find a spot here or there to set up for the afternoon and soak it all in. We did as much a couple weeks ago on one of the warmer Oregon weekends, and relished not only the lake, but trail-side huckleberries and salmon berries, squirt guns, elusive crawfish and newts, and a laid-out tree that invited all kinds of exploration.
Essential to a great day on Lost Lake, however, is actually getting out on the water. People do it in any number of ways, from renting rowboats and canoes from the resort to bringing their own boats, tubes, rafts, and even a few air mattresses. There is simply nothing better than being out on the water on days when the temperature and the sun are relentless, the air still and warm. Get on the water, and all of a sudden all is chill and forgotten.
But what makes Lost Lake the quintessential Mount Hood lake for kayaking, swimming, soaking in the rays, and simply enjoying a real summer day near the mountain, is the unmistakable view you take in from the middle of the lake. There’s no mistaking it. Summertime at Mount Hood.