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  • Writer's pictureTina McLain

Elk Lake

Updated: Apr 28

A calm lake situated deep in Mount Hood National Forest, managed by Willamette National Forest.

Lake Name: Elk Lake Lake Coordinates: 44.8226, -122.1211 Lake Elevation: 3702′ Access: Drive up

Permits/Fees: Day Use Fee Note: The last 4 miles of road into the lake are rough and narrow. The lake is a popular place. Know your comfort zone driving before attempting this one.

Location: On the south side of Bull of the Woods Wilderness in Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon, U.S.A.

Administration: Mount Hood National Forest

Managed By: Willamette National Forest

Ranger District: Clackamas River Ranger District Date Accessed: 7-6-20

There didn’t appear to be any official day-use areas at Elk Lake. (There is a day-use type area. Reference the Forest Service website for more information.) I pulled into the campground and parked on the side of the road. There was only one campsite being used – an older couple with kayaks.

It was almost evening and there were clouds in the sky, so it made everything feel darker. There were a few confident chipmunks nibbling on trash. It looked like they’d gotten into the trash can. I got out of my truck and walked down to the water’s edge. The lake was huge and looked like glass. The water was so still. It was so quiet. The bugs weren’t bad, I didn’t get any mosquito bites.

The usage is noted as “heavy” on the Forest Service website. I’m sure it is on weekends. It would be a nice lake to kayak or swim in. I wouldn’t want want to camp at the lake when there are a lot of people there or drive the roads when there are a lot of people on them. I came across about 10-15 cars on the rougher parts of the road on a slow day.

One thing to note is that Elk Lake is technically in the Clackamas River Ranger District within Mt Hood National Forest, but the campground and area around Elk Lake are administered by Willamette National Forest.

Day Use: Parking is limited within the campground. If visiting for the day, please be aware that overnight campers have priority in the campsite parking. Day visitors can park in an empty campsite for the cost of half the overnight fee ($5.00). (directly from the Forest Service website)

How to get there (from Estacada, OR)



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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