If you are looking for a nice hike to a beautiful lake along the Cascade Lakes Highway, and trying to get away from the crowds, the Senoj Lake Trail just might be what you are looking for! You can take the trail to Lucky Lake, which is a beautiful lake with views of South Sister, or continue on to Senoj Lake. Sound good, well grab your CamelBak, other Hydration Pack or Hydro flask and get ready for a beautiful hike!
My wife and I discovered this trail while driving along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway looking for new hiking trails. We had already done several of the other hikes, including a hike from Todd Lake to the Green Lakes, and we were looking for less used trails. This hike fit that description perfectly! On the day we first hiked this trail all the popular trailheads like the Green Lakes Trail were packed with cars, however when we pulled into the parking area for the Senoj Lake Trail there were just a few cars. Just what we were looking for.
After parking we filled out the required Three Sisters Wilderness permit at the station at the beginning of the trail, and started up the trail. This was only my second real hike since having both hips replaces in May of 2015, and I wasn’t sure how I would handle it. The trail starts slowly climbing up hill almost from the beginning, and from the trailhead to Lucky Lake you will gain about 390 feet in elevation. I guess my doctor, Dr. Erin Finter of Desert Orthopedics did a good job, because after only nine weeks I had no problem with the elevation gain.
As you hike along the trail there are several downed trees beside the trail, and there was also a few on the trail that you had to step over, but they didn’t cause any real problems. While the trail wasn’t all that crowded we did see a few people who were coming down, and we were passed by some hikers who were a little faster than us, most of whom had dogs with them. The trail seems to be popular with dog owners because unlike some of the other trails in the area there are no leash restrictions for dogs. The dogs we saw seemed to really be enjoying themselves, and were very friendly as well. If you do hike with your dog please be sure to pick up after them, and make sure they don’t bother any of the other hikers, or any of the other dogs as well.
After about 1/2 hour we rounded a turn in the trail and saw our goal for the day, Lucky Lake. We realized immediately that we had found a hidden gem of a hike, because Lucky Lake is beautiful! The water is clear, and you have beautiful views of South Sister from many parts of the shoreline of the lake.
Lucky Lake is also a nice place to float on a raft if you enjoy that kind of thing and don’t mind carrying a raft and an air pump with you. On our first visit my wife enjoyed wading into the lake, but vowed to come back soon with her raft!
If you have the time, and the desire, you can continue up the trail to Senoj Lake as well. When you first get to Lucky Lake you will see a weather beaten trail sign that points the way to Senoj Lake, which is a right at the sign. We plan on continuing up to Senoj Lake real soon.
Driving Directions to Senoj Lake Trailhead from Bend
As you drive out of Bend on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway you will drive until just after you pass the entrance for Lava Lakes Campground and Resort, which is on the left, then you will see a small brown sign marking the Senoj Trailhead on the right side of the road. The sign only reads “Trailhead” and you will take a right into the parking area.
Travel Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on how fast you drive
Fees: You can use a Northwest Forest Pass or pay the $5 day use fee to park at the trailhead.
Permits: Day and overnight visitors entering the Three Sisters Wilderness are required to obtain a permit between Memorial Day and October 31. They are free of charge and must be self-issued at trailheads. One Exception: All visitors entering the Obsidian Limited Entry Area must obtain a limited entry permit from McKenzie River Ranger District (Willamette NF) or Sisters Ranger District (Deschutes NF).
You will find useful information on the Deschutes National Forest and Three Sisters Wilderness at the U.S. Forest Service website.
Please note: The Northwest Forest Pass is required at some trailheads on National Forests in Oregon and Washington. These passes are distinct from the wilderness permits. Go to the Recreation Passes & Permits page for more information on the Northwest Forest Pass, including cost and how to get a pass.
See more great hikes in Central Oregon at the Oregon Outdoor Activities website.