Sparks Lake

Deschutes National Forest, Oregon

Central Oregon, Oregon

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Sparks Lake

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  • View of Sparks Lake, the South Sister (10,358 ft) and Broken Top (9,177 ft) from the Ray Adkinson Hiking Trail.- Sparks Lake
  • View of Sparks Lake and the South Sister (10,358 ft) from the Ray Adkinson Hiking Trail.- Sparks Lake
  • Black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus).- Sparks Lake
  • Black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus).- Sparks Lake
  • Golden-mantled ground squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis).- Sparks Lake
  • Sparks Lake and Mount Bachelor (9,068 ft).- Sparks Lake
  • Early morning view of Mount Bachelor (9,068 ft) from a backcountry campsite.- Sparks Lake
  • Common merganser (Mergus merganser).- Sparks Lake
  • Common merganser (Mergus merganser).- Sparks Lake
  • Fresh snowfall in the summer on South Sister (10,358 ft).- Sparks Lake
  • Lakeshore campsite near the boat ramp.- Sparks Lake
  • Mount Bachelor (9,068 ft) and Fall Creek from the northern meadow of Sparks Lake.- Sparks Lake
  • Red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa).- Sparks Lake
  • Unidentified species tucked in the lava rocks at Sparks Lake (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Sparks Lake
  • The lake becomes quite still in the early morning and late evening hours.- Sparks Lake
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Mountain views. Unique lava formations. Backcountry campsites.
Cons: 
Less wildlife than at other nearby Cascade lakes. Peak summer crowds.
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Region:
Central Oregon, OR
Congestion: 
High
Site characteristics: Water: 
Lake
Parking Pass: 
NW Forest Pass
Portage required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Water difficulty: 
Easy / Class A
Current Local Weather:
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Paddle Description

Paddle Description

Team

Situated at the base of Mount Bachelor and just south of South Sister and Broken Top, Sparks Lake is an increasingly popular destination for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, camping and hiking. Stunning views, colorful flora, and opportunities for both water and land recreation provide an ideal setting for fantastic summer days in Oregon’s high desert. Because the water depth doesn't exceed 10 feet, the lake is a safe spot for boating and swimming.  Note that if you do take a dip, it may be brief, as the chilly water temperatures will wake you right up! 

Sparks Lake was created approximately 10,000 years ago by a lava flow that divided the upper Deschutes River. Today the lake is part of a system of wetlands and meadows that is a healthy habitat for birds and other wildlife. The Deschutes National Forest maintains a boat ramp, a parking area, and restrooms at the northern end of the lake, as well as the 2.5 mile-long Ray Atkinson Hiking Trail that skirts the lake’s shore before running into the adjacent forest.

If you are interested in an overnight stay, consider the nearby Soda Creek Campground, operated by Hoodoo Recreation. Alternately, there are several campsites scattered along the shore for those who choose to pack or boat their gear.  These sites are managed on a first-come, first-served basis, so consider an early arrival.  

Visitors can expect hot temperatures in the summer and limited winter accessibility – this stretch of the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway closes in October and doesn’t reopen until late Spring.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

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(59 within a 30 mile radius)

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(135 within a 30 mile radius)

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