Set off of Highway 20 along Forest Service Road 2076 that leads to Blue Lake and Coulter State Park, Link Lake is a great destination if you are aiming for a less popular swimming or primitive camping experience that spares nothing in the way of scenic wilderness. Like neighboring Island Lake, Link Lake is diminutive. It lives in a basin that receives the melt from Cascade snow each year. Surrounded by Douglas firs and ponderosa pines, Link Lake was spared the worst of the sizable B&B Complex fire in 2003. Grass sits in the shallow waters near the edges of the lake, and the understory that is typical of the Willamette National Forest flourishes along the banks. To the north, the jagged southern face of 7,844-foot Three Fingered Jack stands as a beautiful reminder that volcanoes made this land what it is.
While there is no established trail around the lake, visitors will find small game trails that can be connected for short walks. A few primitive campsites can be found at the ends of the roads that lead to Link Lake from Forest Road 2076, and these are large enough to accommodate multiple tents and/or small trailers. Lake access is easiest from these sites, though it can also be had along several other aspects if the sites are occupied. Swimmers will find a large shallow area that gradually gives way to the deeper interior of the lake, which is ideal if you are visiting with young ones. On a hot day, taking a plunge to enjoy the mountain views from the center of the lake is a must.
Many who visit this area for camping and water activities stick to more established destinations; come here mid-week and you are almost certain to have the lake and campsites to yourself. Campers planning for holiday weekends should plan for an early arrival, of course, as the sites are first-come, first-served. While a high-clearance vehicle is not a requirement for reaching this lake, it certainly helps; good tires and careful driving is essential on these rough forest roads. Also, be sure to check for fire restrictions in this area before you leave, and respect these restrictions when they are in place. If no restrictions are in place, be sure to bring your own locally-sourced firewood to reduce impact on the surrounding forest.