9 Gorgeous Recreational Lakes near Sisters, OR

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Sisters has some of the most stunning lakes in Oregon, including the world-famous scuba spot – Clear Lake.

The selection here is diverse. There are high mountain lakes with towering volcanoes for a backdrop, central Oregon canyon reservoirs, and hike-in gems that only a few get to see.

What’s more, these lakes offer every activity imaginable. Whether you’re into scuba, kayaking, or fishing, there are plenty of options.

Check out what Sisters has to offer!

Best Lakes near Sisters Oregon Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Suttle Lake

Suttle Lake near Sisters Oregon
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Official Page: Suttle Lake
  • Distance from Sisters: 14 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Swimming, Mountain Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Jetskiing

Suttle Lake is a 253-acre natural lake just 20 minutes from Sisters. It’s a hugely popular recreational spot with excellent camping and water activities.

Suttle Lake has a lodge, two campgrounds, and a few day-use areas. The lodge offers kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals, as well as a pier, but the rest of the areas are primitive, with just boat ramps and campsites.

Unlike many lakes around Sisters, Suttle Lake is open for motorized boating. It’s up to 75 feet deep and just big enough for wakeboarding, water skiing, and jet skis.

Naturally, swimming is allowed at Suttle Lake, too. The water is clear and inviting but rather frigid even in the middle of summer.

And when it comes to fishing, this lake offers a self-sustaining population of brown trout and kokanee salmon; it’s not stocked usually. There are reports of 6lbs+ brownies taken from this lake.

Another excellent feature here is the hiking and MTB trail that loops the lake. It’s a highly-rated 3.6-mile route with stunning views over the water and a glimpse of Black Butte in the distance.

With so much going on, it’s not surprising why this lake gets so busy in the summers. It’s an excellent option for lakeside campers and boaters.

Related: 11 Gorgeous Lakes near Eugene, OR

2. Scout Lake

Scout Lake near Sisters Oregon in Winter
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Official Page: Scout Lake
  • Distance from Sisters: 15 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Camping

Scout Lake is a tiny waterhole not far from Suttle Lake. It’s a well-known swimming destination with a campground and hiking trails.

Because the lake is small, its crystal clear water warms up in summer, allowing for pleasant swimming. It has a sandy beach and plenty of floating logs to play with.

Also, you are welcome to bring kayaks, paddleboards, and inflatables. On summer weekends, it’s a hectic place with unicorns and flamingos left and right.

The lake’s campground is quite simple; potable water and vault toilets is all you get. Yet, it’s a nice addition to the lake, and together with hiking trails, it makes a rather versatile destination.

The only drawback is that dogs aren’t allowed at the lake. Because of its tiny size, there are water quality concerns. Still, Scout Lake is the most popular swimming hole near Sisters.

Related: 8 Stunning Lakes near Florence, OR

3. Big Lake

Big Lake near Sisters Oregon
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Official Page: Big Lake
  • Distance from Sisters: 24 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Swimming, Mountain Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Jetskiing, OHV

Big Lake is located passed Hoodoo Ski Area, off Route 20. It’s a very versatile lake with plenty of activities and stunning views of Mt Washington.

The lake has a campground that gets packed in summer, primarily because of the OHV trails nearby. The whole area is a popular playground for dirt bikes, buggies, and ATVs, so it gets noisy and dusty. But it’s a lot of fun!

On the water, there are no limits either. Big Lake is pretty good for skiing and wakeboarding and has a boat ramp for launching.

Also, it’s an excellent swimming lake with clear water and easy access. And, of course, you can’t beat paddling with breathtaking Mt Washington right in front of you.

Yet, when it comes to fishing, Big Lake is just OK. It’s not stocked, and the local population of kokanee and brookies are somewhat elusive. Plus, you have to deal with pesky jet skiers in summer. Fall is best for fishing here.

Another excellent fact about the area is the variety of trails. You can get a taste of the famous PCT or climb Mt Washington (climbing gear required). 

Yet, there is a major drawback that most people won’t be able to handle – mosquitos, swarms of them. The bug spray is a good idea, but you will need buckets of it.

4. Three Creek Lake

Three Creek Lake near Sisters Oregon
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Official Page: Three Creek Lake
  • Distance from Sisters: 16 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Swimming, Camping

Three Creek Lake is a natural mountain lake 16 miles south of Sisters. It has a short season, with snow patches even in July, yet it’s a gorgeous and serene spot.

The lake has a couple of small campgrounds, a store with seasonal peddle boat rentals, and a pier. Because of the short season, it gets somewhat hectic here, especially on weekends.

Three Creek Lake is a non-motorized lake, making for excellent paddling and fishing. Swimming is allowed too, but with snow patches even in July, you can imagine how frigid the water is.

Fishing here is really good. The lake is stocked every spring, and you can expect brookies and rainbow trout. The sizes aren’t huge, but the action is usually excellent.

Like Big Lake, Three Creek Lake boasts dozens of hiking trails. The most popular route is Tam McArthur Rim Trail (5.3 miles return). It offers breathtaking views of the Sisters, Broken Top, and the lake itself.

In a nutshell, it’s a fantastic spot for outdoor enthusiasts near Sisters. But if you want to avoid crowds, consider visiting during the week or fall.

Related: 11 Gorgeous Lakes near Eugene, OR

5. Clear Lake

Clear Lake near Sisters Oregon
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Clear Lake
  • Distance from Sisters: 33 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Camping, Scuba Diving

Clear Lake is a 142-acre waterhole formed as a result of a volcanic eruption just 3,000 years ago. It’s known for Caribbean-like transparent water that attracts thousands of visitors every year.

The reason for such clear water is the near-freezing temperature that prevents algae bloom. Unfortunately, it also prevents most people from taking a dip. Unless you’re scuba diving in a wet suit, swimming here is unadvisable. 

The lake has a campground and a resort with yurts and cabins. You can rent kayaks or canoes, explore the lake and spot the 3,000-year-old timber still standing under the surface.

Another adventure here is the 5-mile hike around the lake. It’s fairly easy and takes you through the lava fields that once created this marvel.

As you may expect, motorized boating is prohibited at this lake to preserve its unique environment. But fishing is allowed, and it’s pretty good. Clear Lake is stocked with rainbow trout every year and also has cutthroat and brook varieties. 

Overall, it’s a natural wonder that everyone should visit at least once, and it’s just 40 minutes from Sisters.

Related: 8 Stunning Lakes near Florence, OR

6. Lake Billy Chinook

Lake Billy Chinook in Central Oregon
Source: wikimedia/public domain
  • Official Page: Lake Billy Chinook
  • Distance from Sisters: 46 miles (1 h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Swimming, Mountain Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Jetskiing

Lake Billy Chinook is a 4,000-acre reservoir near Madras. Set within the canyons of the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers, it has an entirely different look and vibe compared to the lakes mentioned thus far.

The best way to access the reservoir is the Cove Palisades State Park which offers tons of amenities like cabins, developed campgrounds, boat ramps, and even hot showers. It’s a very developed and very popular state park.

Another option is Cove Palisades Resort and Marina on the lake’s eastern shore. This is a boaters paradise and a water playground like no other. Here you can rent party barges, pontoon boats, ski boats, and even houseboats. Plus, there are slips, ramps, and docks – everything you might need on a boating weekend.

What’s more, fishing is pretty good at Lake Billy Chinook. It’s the only place in Oregon where you can legally fish for bull trout. The reservoir still holds the state record for this specie – 23 lbs 2 oz. 

Also, you can expect kokanee salmon, brown and rainbow trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and plenty more species. It’s a very diverse fishery.

Yet, Lake Billy Chinook has one significant drawback – algae. In late summer, when the water warms up, algae starts blooming in huge quantities. It provides for some spectacle but prevents swimming and water contact in general. 

If you want to enjoy the lake fully, the best time to visit is late spring and early summer, when Cascade lakes are still full of ice.

7. Prineville Reservoir 

Prineville Reservoir in Central Oregon
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Official Page: Prineville Reservoir 
  • Distance from Sisters: 54 miles (1h 5min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Swimming, Camping, Wakeboarding, Jetskiing

Prineville Reservoir is a 3,000-acre lake on the Crooked River, east of Sisters. It’s a gorgeous place known for warm water and the unbelievable night sky.

The best location to visit is Prineville Reservoir State Park on the northern shore. Like most state parks, it’s an all-in-one destination with cabins, campgrounds, boat ramps, and swimming areas.

The lake’s water levels fluctuate a lot, and if you’re planning on serious boating, it’s better to check with the park before traveling. But usually, there is plenty of water for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. By the end of summer, the water temperature rises to as much as 80F, making it particularly excellent for swimming.

What’s more, Prineville Reservoir is an excellent fishery. Like Lake Billy Chinook, it has a wide variety of fish, from trout and salmon to bass and bullhead. Also, the lake is well-known for black crappie (bring a bucket). Although it doesn’t have any state records to its name, the variety of species means you can successfully fish year around.

Another unique point at this location is that it’s a designated International Dark Sky Park. The night sky here is unreal. If you’re into night sky photography, it’s a must-visit place.

Apart from the fluctuating water levels, there isn’t much to complain about. It’s an excellent option year-round and especially great in spring when Cascade lakes are still melting.

Related: 11 Gorgeous Lakes near Eugene, OR

8. Sparks Lake

Sparks Lake near Bend and Sisters in Oregon
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Official Page: Sparks Lake
  • Distance from Sisters: 49 miles (1 h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Swimming, Camping

Sparks Lake is a gorgeous high mountain lake near Mt Bachelor. Surrounded by towering volcanoes and bright-green meadows, this is the most scenic lake on the list.

It has dispersed and designated campgrounds and a boat ramp, but that’s really it for facilities. It feels remote and wild, and with plenty of hiking trails around, it’s easy to forget life’s worries here.

Swimming, paddling, and boating are allowed at Sparks Lake. Yet, boating is limited to 10hp, and by the end of the summer, the lake is barely 3 feet deep.

Also, it’s a fly fishing lake with a rainbow and brook trout population. It doesn’t produce large fish, but there is plenty of shore access and shallow areas. The best results are in spring when the trout is at its hungriest.

Kayaking or swimming with Mt Bachelor for a backdrop is probably the best outdoor experience near Sisters. And although there are potholed roads and bugs to put up with, this adventure shouldn’t be missed.

Related: 8 Stunning Lakes near Florence, OR

9. Green Lakes

Green Lakes in Sisters Wilderness Oregon
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Official Page: Green Lakes
  • Distance from Sisters: 48 miles (1 h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Backpacking, Camping, Snowshoeing

Green Lakes are three gorgeous mountain lakes in Three Sisters Wilderness. This is a hike-in destination that will reward you with stunning views of South Sister and Broken Top.

The trailhead is on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, opposite Sparks Lake. Several backpacking and day routes start from here. Yet, the Green Lakes Trail is the most popular one.

The trail is about 9 miles return with about 1,200 feet in elevation gain. Normally, it’s a moderate route that most hikers can handle. However, in early summer, the trail still has plenty of snow, making it a challenge, especially if you dare to tackle it without spikes, snowshoes, or hiking poles.

Green Lakes have dispersed and designated campsites and offer trout fishing. The biggest one – Middle Lake – has rainbow and brook varieties. 

Also, the lakes are a popular overnight stop for people climbing South Sister and Broken Top; both routes start from here.

Because of the popularity of this destination, a hiking permit is required. But the lakes are worth the hustle, and if you’re choosing just one hike near Sisters, this is one of the best candidates by far.

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