11 Gorgeous and Fun Lakes near Eugene, OR

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In Eugene, the Willamette River is the obvious choice for fishing and paddling. Yet, there are plenty of lakes around the city that offer fantastic beaches and crystal clear waters for swimming, boating, and kayaking.

And the best thing is, you don’t have to travel far to enjoy these lakes. Almost all of the options on the list are within an hour’s drive away, and many can be reached in less than 30 minutes. 

Lakes near Eugene:

  1. Cottage Grove Lake
  2. Dorena Lake
  3. Dexter Lake
  4. Lookout Point Lake
  5. Fall Creek Lake
  6. Cougar Reservoir
  7. Blue River Reservoir
  8. Foster Reservoir
  9. Green Peter Lake
  10. Triangle Lake and Rock Slides
  11. Fern Ridge Lake
Lakes near Eugene Oregon Comparison Table

1. Cottage Grove Lake

  • Official Page: Cottage Grove Lake
  • Distance from Eugene: 30 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Birding, Camping, Swimming

Cottage Grove Lake is a medium-sized reservoir south of Eugene. It’s run by the US Army Corps of Engineers and has several campsites and day-use areas, making it a well-developed destination with plenty of amenities.

Between May and September, you can boat, paddle, fish, and swim to all your heart’s desire. Some day-use areas have boat ramps, while others offer designated swimming zones.

You have two camping options when taking multi-day trips. The main Pine Meadows campground offers showers, hookups, and flush toilets. In contrast, its less-developed neighbor has just 15 primitive sites and basic facilities. The choice is yours.

The area is known for being well-maintained and clean. However, there are a few drawbacks. One, it’s only open between May and September. And two, the water level can get quite low, making the beaches and access points mucky.

Still, the lake’s scenic setting and diverse wildlife make it well worth the 30 minutes drive from Eugene. 

Related: 8 Stunning Lakes near Florence, OR

2. Dorena Lake

  • Official Page: Dorena Lake
  • Distance from Eugene: 29 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Birding, Camping, Hiking, Cycling, Swimming

Dorena Lake is a versatile destination south of Eugene. Just like the Cottage Grove Lake, it’s run by the US Army Corps of Engineers and has plenty of day-use areas to enjoy the water safely.

When it comes to activities, there is a wide choice of water recreation – from swimming to paddling to boating and fishing, everything is possible here. 

Yet, what makes the lake unique is the designated, paved rail-trail that hugs the northern shore where you can hike, cycle, and take strollers to.

Dorena Lake doesn’t get busy despite the huge selection of activities, and there is plenty of space to hide from other happy campers.

Also, the Schwarz Campground is open to visitors between April and September, offering hot showers, flush toilets, fire pits, and dump stations (but no hookups). 

The lake is an ideal summer destination for all the family giving you options of day trips or more extended stays. Don’t overlook this hidden gem.

Related: Top 9 Hiking Trails at Cape Perpetua

3. Dexter Lake

Dexter Lake
Photo: Rick ObstCC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Dexter Lake
  • Distance from Eugene: 20 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Birding, Camping, Swimming

Dexter Lake is all about paddling and boating. It is surrounded by roads on both sides that provide easy access to launching ramps. 

If you are looking for the perfect wakeboarding, water skiing, or boating spot, Dexter Lake is one of the best options near Eugene.

However, there are just two day-use recreational sites at the reservoir which get very busy, especially on hot summer weekends. So, arrive early if you want to secure one of the picnic tables or a spot by the water.

When it comes to camping, there is a well-developed RV park, Dexter Shores, that has a few tent spots as well.

Dexter Reservoir is a well-developed boating destination, but if you are looking for a tranquil experience away from crowds, it’s better to try other lakes.

Related: 9 Gorgeous Recreational Lakes near Sisters, OR

4. Lookout Point Lake

Lookout Point Lake
  • Official Page: Lookout Point Lake
  • Distance from Eugene: 30 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Nature Trips, Camping, Hiking, Swimming

Lookout Point Lake is large and undeveloped. It sits upstream from Dexter Reservoir, some 25 miles from Eugene. 

The reservoir’s size allows for any boating activity, including waterskiing, wakeboarding, and jet skiing. However, it lacks the facilities, with just a couple of boat launching ramps that become useless when the water is low.

There are a couple of parks on the north-eastern side of the lake which provide access to the water and have basic facilities. But apart from that, the reservoir is undeveloped, wild, and stunning. 

Another thing that makes this reservoir unique is that it sits in the Willamette National Forest, which has miles of trails and excellent, wild campgrounds.

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Lookout Point Lake is a place to be, especially if you don’t mind the lack of facilities.

Related: 8 Stunning Lakes near Florence, OR

5. Fall Creek Lake

  • Official Page: Fall Creek Lake
  • Distance from Eugene: 23 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Nature Trips, Camping, Hiking, Swimming

Fall Creek Lake is a popular summer recreation spot 30 minutes from Eugene. It is surrounded by day-use parks that provide access to swimming areas and launching ramps.

Like most lakes around Eugene, there are hardly any restrictions for water activities. The lake is excellent for fishing, paddling, boating, and swimming. 

And in addition to day-use areas, the lake has a primitive campground at the far end that boasts 40 campsites and some basic amenities.

Also, the area around the reservoir offers miles of hiking trails that feature waterfalls and viewpoints. It will take you weeks, if not months, to properly explore this destination and get tired of the lake.

However, one thing to remember is that Fall Creek Lake is a summer destination that operates from May through September. For the rest of the year, the reservoir is drained, which turns it into a small river.

Related: Top 9 Hiking Trails at Cape Perpetua

6. Cougar Reservoir

  • Official Page: Cougar Reservoir
  • Distance from Eugene: 52 miles (1h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Nature Trips, Camping, Hiking, Swimming

Cougar Reservoir is another fantastic summer destination near Eugene. This lake is located on the edge of the Willamette National Forest, which provides a stunning backdrop and an authentic wilderness atmosphere.

Cougar Reservoir is further away from Eugene than most other options on the list. This makes the destination a quieter alternative, best suited for solitude seekers.

Still, there are plenty of day-use areas with beaches, boat launches, and picnic areas, as well as the campgrounds for multi-day trips.

In addition to water recreations like fishing, paddling, and boating, you can explore the national forest by taking multiple trails surrounding the lake.

One of the best side trips that the area offers is Cougar Hot Springs on the lake’s western side. So even if you are visiting when the reservoir is drained, you can still do some soaking.

Related: 9 Gorgeous Recreational Lakes near Sisters, OR

7. Blue River Reservoir

Blue River Reservoir
  • Official Page: Blue River Reservoir
  • Distance from Eugene: 47 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Nature Trips, Camping, Hiking, Swimming

Blue River Reservoir is another highly-rated lake that doesn’t fail to impress. Just like the Cougar Reservoir, it’s set in the Willamette National Forest, with pine-covered hills creating a stunning backdrop.

And just like the other lakes around Eugene, Blue River Reservoir is drained between September and May, making it a summer destination only. Although you can still explore the area, don’t count on boating as the lake turns into a trickle in winter.

However, in summer, the reservoir is usually full, and its crystal clear waters attract boaters, paddlers, and swimmers, making it the top lake destination in the area. 

Also, there are a few rustic campgrounds on the lake. Facilities include potable water, vault toilets, and picnic tables, and that’s pretty much it. The perfect setting for a nature gateway!

Related: 8 Stunning Lakes near Florence, OR

8. Foster Reservoir

Foster Reservoir
  • Official Page: Foster Reservoir
  • Distance from Eugene: 47 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Nature Trips, Camping, Swimming, RV Parks

Foster Reservoir is one of the most developed lakes near Eugene. If you are looking for fun-filled water buzz with jet skis, wakeboarding, and sandy beaches, Foster is your best bet.

There are a couple of RV parks by the lake with hookups, showers, and modern amenities like Wi-Fi, heated pools, and laundry rooms.

And when it comes to water activities, there is plenty to do here. You can throttle up your jet ski or go on a quiet paddling expedition and explore the coastline. 

Also, the reservoir is stocked with rainbow trout every year, and there are plenty of fishing spots along the lake.

However, what you won’t find at Foster Reservoir are peace and quiet. In summer, the lake is buzzing with activity, thanks to its developed areas and ease of access. So, if you are looking for a serene, natural escape, you should try other options on the list.

Related: Top 9 Hiking Trails at Cape Perpetua

9. Green Peter Lake

Green Peter Lake
  • Official Page: Green Peter Lake
  • Distance from Eugene: 62 miles (1h 15min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Nature Trips, Camping, Swimming

Green Peter Lake is a vast, 3,720-acre reservoir that sits above Foster Lake, some 60 miles from Eugene. Compared to its smaller neighbor, Green Peter Lake is undeveloped and wild. 

There is just one recreation area run by Linn County – Whitcomb Creek County Park and Campground. Here, you will find several primitive campsites, basic amenities, and a boat ramp.

But when it comes to water activities, you can do pretty much whatever you want. The lake’s size and the extended boat ramp can be excellent for boat enthusiasts, and at the same time, the quiet nature of the reservoir can attract kayakers and SUPs who wish to explore the numerous coves.

The undeveloped character and the stunning natural setting make this destination one of the best-hidden gems around Eugene and Albany. If you don’t mind the 1 hour 15 minutes drive, you should definitely give it a go.

Related: 9 Gorgeous Recreational Lakes near Sisters, OR

10. Triangle Lake and Rock Slides

Triangle Lake and Rock Slides
Photo: Rick ObstCC BY 2.0
  • Wiki Page: Triangle Lake
  • Distance from Eugene: 34 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Nature Trips, Camping, Swimming, Tubing

Triangle Lake is a charming 293-acre reservoir west of Eugene. It’s a popular spot for swimming, fishing, paddling, and boating.

The reservoir is known to be relatively deep, dropping 90 feet in places. This creates an ideal environment for various fish species, including kokanee and cutthroat trout, which are prized catches.

Although the location is stunning, the biggest drawback here is the small recreation area that gets crammed during the summer weekends. There are some facilities like a boat ramp, bathrooms, and pontoons, but some people say it’s not worth the day-use fee.

However, what makes this location special is the Rock Slides, a few miles south of the lake. The area is known as Lake Creek Falls and features swimming holes, a set of cascades, and the 100-feet natural flat rock that works as a slide.

So really, Triangle Lake is a two-in-one destination with tons of fun water activities to enjoy.

Related: 8 Stunning Lakes near Florence, OR

11. Fern Ridge Lake

Fern Ridge Lake
Photo: Rick ObstCC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Fern Ridge Lake
  • Distance from Eugene: 12 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, SUP, Canoeing, Nature Trips, Camping, Hiking, Swimming

Fern Ridge Lake is the largest and the closest reservoir to Eugene. With several day-use areas, campgrounds, and RV parks, it is also one of the most developed destinations on the list.

Apart from the usual boating, swimming, fishing, and paddling, the lake is known for sailing; it hosts sailing teams and regattas and is an excellent place to try this sport.

Also, large parts of the lake are marshes that are home to over 250 bird species, making this reservoir the prime spot for birding and wildlife photography. 

In addition to exploring the area from the water, there are plenty of flat hiking trails around; in fact, you can almost loop the entire lake. But if you want to explore the marshes and see the birds, the eastern shore is your best bet.

Still, there are a few drawbacks to this destination. For example, the water is murky-brown here, which can be off-putting to some; but it does get warm in summer. The lake is windy, too, which is great for sailing but makes paddling difficult. Also, like many other lakes around Eugene, Fern Ridge is drawn down every winter, turning the area into one extensive marsh.

Overall, the reservoir is a fantastic destination with lots of space and things to do. And thanks to its proximity to Eugene, you can go fishing or paddling in the evenings rather than wait for the weekend.

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