A hike to two lakes that are popular in all four season in Mount Hood National Forest.
Lake Name: Twin Lake, lower
Coordinates: 45.2377, -121.6799
Lake Name: Twin Lake, upper
Coordinates: 45.2464, -121.6772
Trail Distance: 7.25 miles (rt)
Elevation Range: 3904' to 4457'
Ascent/Descent: +960 ft / -950 ft
Trail Type: In and out
Trails: PCT #2000 & Twin Lakes Trail #495
Note: Requires Sno-Park Permit for parking (November-April) or NWFP for other months
Date hike was done: 8-13-2022
I've had this set of lakes on my list to do for a few years and finally decided to go and do them. I had originally planned on finishing the last section of the Timberline Trail I have left as a backpacking trip with my dad, uncle, and cousin, but my body wasn't to the point post surgery and with fatigue levels due to chronic illness i could handle that. So we decided to do a day hike together instead and chose this one.
I was nervous because I wasn't sure how my body would hold up with a longer hike. I'd only done mile hikes up to this point. It was a sunny, pleasant, but not too warm kind of day. We parked at the Frog Lake Sno-Park and started on the PCT #200 on our hike to the lakes. The trail was wide and gradually climbed uphill. We all enjoyed conversation and being out in nature. There weren't a lot of people on the trail on our way there. Once we neared the top of the hill we'd been climbing up we split off on to the Twin Lakes Trail #495 at the train intersection. The trail started to climb downhill to the first lake, the lower Twin Lake. We took the side trail that went down to the lake. There were other people there but we were able to find a spot to sit and eat our lunch. It was a good weather day, not too hot but not too cold. Most of us wanted to swim, but wanted to check out the other lake to see which lake we preferred swimming in. So we went back to the trail and continued on to the upper Twin Lake. It was an uphill climb with some switchbacks. There were lots of huckleberry bushes around, but not many berries on them. I was able to find a few to eat. The upper lake was smaller and shallower than the lower one. There was a partial view of Mt Hood. It was a pretty lake. Someone that was camping along the lake had brought their smaller dog along and it was pretty hilarious to watch. When it's owners weren't paying attention it would start swimming and in the lake and trying to sneak up on the birds floating in the lake. The owners would notice and all it back and the whole cycle would start again. It was pretty funny.
We decided to go back to the lower lake to swim. We found a spot where we could walk out on an old fallen tree and slide off into the water. It was by no means warm, but it wasn't too cold (for a PNW born and raised person anyways, I guarantee if my mom had come along she would have been complaining about how it was too cold lol). My uncle, cousin, and I all swam while my dad explored more of the trail that circled the lake. After swimming and sitting on the log we got dressed and started the hike back to the trailhead. We passed some people who were obviously PCT thruhikers and there were a lot more people on the trail hiking into the lake to swim.
It was a fun hike. The lower lake is definitely the best one to swim in since it is larger and deeper. We only went to both lakes edge, we didn't circle either lake.
This trail is popular throughout the whole year. It's most popular during the summer for camping and swimming as well as during the winter for snowshoeing and snow hiking. The least busy seasons are probably as the snows melting in late spring and late fall.
Parking: 45.22908, -121.69871
Trailhead: 45.22932, -121.69970
PCT & Twin Lakes #495 intersection: 45.23706, -121.68648
Cutoff from trail to Lower Twin Lake: 45.23988, -121.67755
Lower Twin Lake Edge: 45.23941, -121.67814
Lower Twin Lake: 45.2377, -121.6799
Swimming spot (Lower Twin Lake): 45.23908, -121.68044
Upper Twin Lake edge: 45.24553, -121.67625
Upper Twin Lake: 45.2464, -121.6772
PCT & Twin Lakes Trail #495 intersection @ mile 1.52
Lower Twin Lake shore @ mile 2.3 (took 47 minutes to reach from trailhead)
Start to Upper Twin Lake from Lower Twin Lake @ mile 2.37
Upper Twin Lake shore @ mile 3.42
Finish hike @ mile 7.25
How to get there (from Sandy, OR)
Take Hwy 26 out of Sandy, OR for 35 miles. Turn left onto NF 2610. The sno-park is right off the Hwy and is where the trailhead is at.
Twin Lake, lower coordinates: 45.2377, -121.6799
Hood River Ranger District map location: T4S R9E S09
Twin Lake, upper coordinates: 45.2464, -121.6772
Hood River Ranger District map location: T4S R9E S4
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