Located in the popular Three Sisters Wilderness, Otter Lake is a nice spot for hiking and fishing. From the Skookum Creek Campground, head across the footbridge toward the trailhead. After about a half-mile, the trail splits. Head to the left toward Irish Mountain Trail. The right heads toward Erma Bell Lakes. Then it’s just another half mile hike up to the lake. The lake is filled with rainbow trout and surrounded by a beautiful alpine forest. Keep an eye out for birds and wildflowers.
From Otter Lake, the Irish Mountain Trail continues for a few more miles east with views of Waldo Lake. The steep trail along the ridge connects with other trails going farther into the Three Sisters Wilderness. From Otter Lake, there is also the option of heading south on the Williams Lake Trail, which connects back with the Erma Bell Lakes trail to make a larger loop of about 8.5 miles.
Be warned, the mosquitoes can be vicious during the summer months. The trailhead from Skookum Creek Campground is usually open late June through the beginning of October, depending on snow levels, but it’s best to check with the Willamette National Forest for exact dates.