Hand Lake

Willamette National Forest

Central Oregon, Oregon

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Hand Lake


  • An amazing beargrass display in July on the way to Hand Lake.- Hand Lake
  • For an easy adventure, follow an old wagon road cut into the lava flow.- Hand Lake
  • A user trail follows the lava's edge .- Hand Lake
  • Hand Lake can be pretty shallow late in the summer.- Hand Lake
  • In early summer, the waters meet a green marsh.- Hand Lake
  • A firepit near the shelter provides a nice view of the lake and Mount Washington (7,795').- Hand Lake
  • Tough little plants push up through lava rock.- Hand Lake
  • The Hand Lake Shelter would be a nice overnight camp.- Hand Lake
  • - Hand Lake
Overview + Weather
Solitude. Easy access. Summer wildflowers.
Only accessible in summer.
Central Oregon, OR
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
200.00 ft (60.96 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
2.60 mi (4.18 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,800.00 ft (1,463.04 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Hand Lake is a cute, less-crowded alternative to it's busy neighbor, Scott Lake. Although the hike to the lake is only a half mile, there are many options to explore diverse terrain around the lake. 

For a quick hike with kids, start from the trailhead and walk on a nearly level trail through the forest to the shelter. Enjoy the meadow to your right and head down to the lake for some swimming. Hand Lake is shallow and seasonal, so be sure to hit this lake in July or early August for the best swimming.

For a more adventurous trek, continue past the shelter and turn right at a trail signed for Robinson Lake. Here you'll pass through a forest that explodes with beargrass blooms in early July. Eventually the forest meets a lava flow and the terrain becomes more open. Just over a half mile up the trail, look for a cairn on the right side of the trail. This cairn marks a piece of old wagon road that cuts across the lava. Turn down this road and cross the lava bed, and imagine the work it must have been for pioneer John Craig to create this road for wagon travel back in the late 1800s.

Once across the lava, take another right and follow the sandy edge of the lava flow back to the lake. If the water is high enough, stop here for a swim in a private inlet hidden out of view of the main trail. Continue around the rim of the lake to bushwhack back to the shelter and find your way back to the car. Don't forget to look up to find views of the Three Sisters peeking above the tree line.

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Field Guide

Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(57 within a 30 mile radius)

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(140 within a 30 mile radius)

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