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  • Writer's pictureTina McLain

Dinger Lake

Updated: Apr 28

A more challenging bushwhack adventure to a lake in Mount Hood National Forest.

Dinger Lake

Lake Name: Dinger Lake Lake Coordinates: 45.1457, -121.8441 Lake Elevation: 4000′ Access: Bushwhack Route: Downhill to lake from FS 025 Bushwhack Rating: BW 3/4 Distance: 0.82 miles (round trip – there and back); 1.05 miles (round trip – hiking along part of the shore) Route Type: In and out

Permits/Fees: None Note: There are two different places that one can bushwhack in from. FS 025 is above the the lake up a hill. FS 160 is on the opposite side of the lake and it’s a flat bushwhack in. Date Accessed: 6-18-20

I’ve driven down FS 025 many times. It’s one of my favorite back roads in Mt Hood National Forest. From one part of the road I can see Mt Jefferson, part of Timothy Lake, and Dinger Lake.

I’ve wanted to go down to Dinger Lake ever since I first saw it. I couldn’t find much online about it. I could only find a short account on Cascade Ramblings and a small paragraph in an anglers book. Both mentioned bushwhacking from a road on the southeast side of the lake off FS 160. I plotted a course and decided I’d attempt it from that direction. The day I went out to do it I was having issues with my navigation tool and decided to turn around and try again a different day.

When I went out to attempt going to the lake again, I decided I’d do it from FS 025 instead since I’m more familiar with it. There’s a hill down to the lake so if I did lose my way by chance, all I would have to do is climb uphill and I’d eventually hit the road. There is a section that is open and more bare going downhill. It’s like a large square was cut out of the forest. I was able to use the edges of the tall forest on either side to guide my way, as long as I was in between the two forest edges I’d be fine.

I used my Gaia GPS app as a guide. It worked really well for what I was doing. The brush quickly started to get more dense the further down the hill I went. I had to climb between bushes and trees. I had to try and find openings I could go through without having to army crawl. The descent to the lake was a lot slower due to this. It was like trying to walk through a maze, except there weren’t many openings.

View from bottom of hill

The tracking line on my app looked crazy—like tones of zigzags all the way down the hill. Towards the bottom of the hill, the forest opened up again. I angled towards a part of the lake that I thought might be the least swampy on the side of the lake I was on.

Taller trees lined the lake edge. I had to walk through the forest for a few hundred feet. I navigated fallen trees and dense huckleberry bushes. I got to the edge of the forest where it opened up to the lake and was disappointed. The edge of the water was still at least 200 ft out. It was grassy and marshy. I was only able to go about 10 ft out on the spongy ground.

First point on lake edge

I back tracked and decided I’d go down the side of the lake a little ways to see if I could get to a spot where I could get closer to the water. I didn’t want to try and make my way around the entire lake since most of the edge seemed pretty marshy. It was 0.41 miles one way to this point. It could be done as an in and out hike, but with my exploring it turned more into a loop.

I was climbing over a tall log when my leg slipped. I landed on a sharp stub of wood poking up on my shin. It really hurt, but thankfully the tree was dead enough it just snapped and didn’t impale me.

I came across a large pile of scat. I took a picture and after looking it up, I think it was most likely bear scat. It was pretty old and I didn’t see any other signs of bear in the area.

Second point on lake edge

I made it to a point where the water was closer. It was only 100 ft out instead of 200 ft. I went out as far as I could. Everywhere around the lake seemed to have the same grassy marsh surrounding the edge for a good ways out. The mosquitoes were definitely present and very annoying when I would stop moving. They seemed to just mainly populate the lake’s edge.

I started my trek back up the hill. I thought it would be easier going up, especially in the dense brush/tree part. I thought it would be easier to spot open pockets. Yeah, I was wrong. It was way worse. I ended up just pushing my way through branches and bushes most of the time. It felt like I was fighting my whole way back.

I felt euphoric when I got back to my truck. I did it! My first solo, more challenging, bushwhack. I was overheated and very sweaty, but that didn’t dampen my excitement.

A few things to note: It’s important to be prepared, know your limitations, and know how to navigate. I chose to do this accepting the risks that come with being outdoors. Please reference my disclaimer for more information about bushwhacking and knowing your own limitations.

How to get there (from Estacada, OR)



It appears the colors don't show up on the map embed, but if you click on the title and go to GaiaGPS it should be visible.

  • Car pin – Parking/camp spot (coordinates: 45.14855, -121.85000)

  • Orange pin – Start point for bushwhack (coordinates: 45.14820, -121.85041)

  • Blue line – route I took

  • Green pin – Where marsh starts along edge of Dinger Lake

  • Dark blue pin – 1st point

  • Light blue pin – 2nd point has better view and is somewhat closer to water (coordinates: 45.14583, -121.84640)

  • Purple pin – Start point for bushwhack from FS 160

  • Red pin 1 - Road turn off from NF-58 to FS-025

  • Red pin 2 - Dinger Lake (coordinates: 45.1457, -121.8441)

My Wild Adventure is not responsible for your safety, any possible injury, or anything that happens if you choose to follow anything on this website. Maps are not intended to be used for navigational purposes, but to give an overview of the route taken. By going outdoors you are solely responsible to know your strengths and limitations, be aware of current conditions and proceed with the appropriate caution. My Wild Adventure is not responsible for your choices and the outcome. Reference my disclaimer for more information on being responsible outdoors.

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