Three Creek Lake and Hiking
Ready to get out and about with the fam or your visitors? Go here.
Who is this trip for?
This trip is great for families with children or visiting friends or family.
The snow has finally dissipated and we can get into the Cascades. Hooray! From Bend, we tend to go up Cascade Lakes Highway to find an alpine lake, but Three Creek Lake is another great option. Located just to the east of the Three Sisters and Broken Top, south of Sisters, it's only accessed by driving northwest from Bend to Sisters and then back south to the lake.
Three Creek Lake is a cirque, or glacially carved lake with a shore that varies from beach to gentle slope to rocky cliff, all surrounded by an old growth forest of Ponderosa and Lodgepole pines. Enjoy the lake by simply kicking back next to it, taking a dip in the cold waters or taking a hike. Climb a steep hill from the northeast side of the lake to access Tam McArthur Rim, an incredible alpine plateau in the lap of the mountains—stunningly beautiful. Keep going a few miles and you'll encounter glaciers, cerulean-blue glacial lakes, rocky basalt pinnacles, stunted forests of subalpine fir and a cliff-top view to knock your socks off.
A better hike for little ones or the grandparents in town is Little Three Creek Lake. The trailhead is just before the Driftwood campground on the gravel road on the north end of the lake, and the hike is about three miles round trip. It's lovely, flat and offers views of Tam McArthur Rim and the smaller Little Three Creek Lake itself.
Directions: Drive 21 miles northwest to Sisters, and then another 17 south to Three Creek Lake.
Kim Cooper Findling is the author of Bend, Oregon Daycations: Day Trips for Curious Families and the Central Oregon ambassador for Travel Oregon. Check out her work at kimcooperfindling.com.