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, taking the Six Lakes Trail to Doris Lake just might be what you are looking for! This is about a six mile hike that will take you past Blow Lake on the way to Doris Lake with an elevation gain of about 420 feet. Sound good, well grab your CamelBak, other Hydration Pack or Hydroflask 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 the Senoj Lake Trail to Lucky Lake, and we were looking for less used trails. Like the hike to Lucky Lake, 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 Six Lakes Trail there were just a three other 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. The beginning of this trail takes you through a thin forest of pines, and a lot of downed trees, it looks like a wildfire probably went through the area at some point in the past. The good thing is the trees that have fallen over the trail have been cut and the trail is clear except for a few small trees that have fallen recently.
After about 1/2 mile the trees begin to thicken, and by the time you get to Blow Lake you are surrounded by a nice beautiful forest. Like the Senoj Trail to Lucky Lake, the Six Lakes Trail seems to be popular with dog owners because unlike some of the other trails in the area there are no leash restrictions on this trail. Please remember, 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 a mile you will get to Blow Lake, and to get a good view you will have to take one of the trails that take off to the right from the main trail. We stopped and took some photographs and enjoyed the beauty of the Lake, and then made our way back to the main trail to continue on to Doris Lake.
Shortly after resuming the hike after Blow Lake, the trail begins a gradual uphill journey through my favorite part of this hike. You will wind through thick green lush forests and see several lava flows along the trail. Depending on the time of year you hike it you may also cross several small streams as well.
About two miles after Blow Lake you will reach Doris Lake. The trail continues on to Senoj Lake, and several others, but our goal was Doris Lake. Like you did at Blow Lake you will need to take one of the many trails that shoot off the main trail to the right. We took one that led us to a nice point along the lake that gave us a beautiful view of the lake, and the surrounding area. We sat on a log by the lake and had our lunch before turning back and returning to our car. We look forward to hiking this trail again, because it was a nice hike, without a lot of other people along the way.
For more information on this and other hikes in Bend and Central Oregon check out the Oregon Outdoor Activities website.
Driving Directions to Six Lakes Trailhead from Bend
As you drive out of Bend on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway you will pass the turnoff for Elk Lake, which is on the left, then continue on for about two miles, then you will see a sign pointing you to the Six Lakes Trailhead on the right side of the road.
Travel Time: 50 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.