Last weekend Beverly and I headed to Hood River to look at ProMotion wetsuits at their showroom/factory. We brought our boards figuring we’d find something fun to paddle in once we got there and finished our shopping. We did end up purchasing a set of Farmer John and Jane suits with matching neoprene zip up jackets, plus I picked up an Exoskin short sleeve top (love it!). Well once we purchased our cool new suits there was no other choice but to find someplace to paddle out! Problem is Beverly had her Naish Javelin in tow which is anything but a downwind board, and the Columbia River had churned up to pro-level white caps, so the river was out, although it would have given Beverly’s new suit a proper stress test! Anyway, we thought maybe we’d have enough time to head to Lost Lake for a quick paddle before sundown, and luckily I’m a ridiculously fast driver when I need to be somewhere before sundown.
Lost Lake is, in my opinion, one of the two prettiest locations in the Mt. Hood National Park region, the other one being an obvious Trillium Lake with a picturesque view of Mt. Hood that never has a bad season, it looks amazing year round. As pretty as it is though, Lost Lake is a little more SUP friendly with more area for roaming as well as the occasional picnic area or campsite snuggly hidden around the shores. Then there’s the view, what a view! Mt. Hood lends a strong background to a lake surrounded by a lush forest and a distinctive lack of society on 95% of its surface. Below your feet is crystal clear water fresh from Hood’s glacier just a few miles above. The added bonus brought to you by the park service is a ban on motorized boats. That’s right, no smells of burning exhaust, no jet skiers, nothing but fishermen in rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and SUPs.
Sadly, Lost Lake is not a year round destination as the road does close for the winter. As crazy as it might sound, if I could get there in the middle of winter I’d be mighty tempted to suit up in my 4/3 full hood surf suit and take my Zeedonk for lap or two around a snow crusted lake. It’d be the most scenic laps I’ve ever experienced I’m pretty sure! The roads generally open in May and close in late October based on weather. Check road conditions and closures ahead of time: http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/mthood/alerts-notices . Getting there from Hood River is easy, highway 281 due south through Dee takes you to Lost Lake Rd. From there you don’t stop until you can see water.
While it’s not a big lake, Lost Lake is sizable enough that a couple of laps would be a great workout. Better yet, paddling randomly about the surface looking for the myriad of breathtaking landscapes this location provides packs far more reward than a wind sprint or a lap will give you! Kids and dogs will also love this area, just remember to pack up a good lunch and snacks so you can comfortably stay the day and soak it all in. While we did have wetsuits on, we really were wearing them to give them an inaugural run, we certainly didn’t need to have them on even in late September. The water was comfortable although not warm by any stretch of the imagination, but still not bone chilling cold either. Paddling about with swim trunks and a PFD strapped to ones waist is really all you need most summer days.
Like many lakes in Oregon, there’s really not a lot of sandy beach area surrounding the water. There’s plenty of little areas to safely put in and there’s picnic facilities occasionally dotting the shore but there’s really no beach area to lounge on when you’re visiting. Luckily, Hood River is just 40 minutes away with a wonderful riverfront park should the kids demand at some point to build sand castles.