The Ultimate Guide to Camping at Timothy Lake

2019 Timothy Lake Campgrounds Opening Dates:

Timothy Lake is a man made lake located about 75 miles east of Portland, Oregon in the Mount Hood National Forest.  Timothy Lake was created by Portland General Electric in 1956 when a dam was constructed at the southwest shore to regulate the flow of water feeding the Oak Grove fork of the Clackamas River. Today, Timothy Lake is better known for its many summertime recreational uses including swimming, fishing, camping, mountain biking, boating, hiking and more.

When to Visit Timothy Lake

Located at an elevation of 3,200 feet and nestled in the Mount Hood National Forest, Timothy Lake is best when visited during the warmer summer months typically in July and August.  In the winter all the campgrounds around the lake close and it is common to run into snow making it difficult to get around.  Winter snow parking passes are honored at Timothy Lake for those on the more adventurous side and activities included snow shoeing, cross country skiing and snowmobiling.  For those visitors looking to do some camping at Timothy Lake note that most campgrounds are open around mid May and close in mid to late September.

How to get to Timothy Lake

Timothy Lake at SunsetThere is really only one main paved road into and out of Timothy Lake however for those not afraid of dirt roads you will find several different access points.  The main route to the lake is to take Highway 26 from Government camp and after Clear Lake take the Skyline Road exit.  Skyline road is paved however is a long and windy road that takes about 15 minutes to navigate after you leave HWY 26.  The road is easily large enough for RVs and trailers.

Map of Timothy Lake

Camping at Timothy Lake

Camping is by far the most popular summertime activity at Timothy Lake and with stunning views of Mount Hood as well as over 10 campgrounds to choose from it is no surprise.  The camping at Timothy Lake is considered by some to be the best in all of Oregon.  The campgrounds can accommodate almost any type of camper ranging from horse camping, car camping and hike in only camping.

Timothy Lake and many other campgrounds in Oregon used to operate under the guides of first come, first served but things have changed.  Now if you are planning on camping at Timothy Lake, especially on the busy weekends, you will be best suited to make reservations.  When reserving a campsite for this popular area you can expect sites to fill up nearly a year ahead of time so planning out your trip is a good idea.  In the months of July and August, campers can find out that most campgrounds lack vacancy even during the middle of the week.

Below we have put together a list of all the campgrounds around Timothy Lake.

Weather Conditions at Timothy Lake

Timothy Lake is located at a relatively high elevation of 3,200 feet. This means that during the winter months the ground is usually covered in snow and in the summer the days are warm and nights are chilly. If you visit the lake early in the spring you may see some patches of snow on the ground and the water will surely be too cold to swim in. During the dog days of summer swimming at Timothy Lake is perfect. No matter when you visit Timothy Lake be sure to bring warm clothing for the cold nights.

Here is a graphic of current weather conditions at Timothy Lake

Nearby Live Webcam

The below image is a view of a nearby State of Oregon webcam located near the Highway 26 turnoff about 10 miles from Timothy Lake. Please note the altitude at this camera is roughly 800 feet higher than the elevation of Timothy Lake. Even so, it can still give you a decent idea if there is snow on the ground, is it sunny at the lake, etc.
Road Conditions at Blue Box Pass near Timothy Lake

Gone Creek Campground

  • Lakeside Camping
  • Number of Campsites: 50

Gone Creek CampgroundGone Creek Campground is one of the more popular campgrounds on Timothy Lake and is located right on the lake shore with plenty of waterfront campsites. It has two loops and tends to fill up very quickly during the summer months. There is easy access to the Timothy Lake Loop trail, a day use beach area and a boat launch. Learn More…

Hoodview Campground

  • Lakeside Camping
  • Number of Campsites: 43

Hoodview Campground Timothy LakeHoodview Campground is another very popular campground and as the name states it comes with excellent views of Mt. Hood accompanied by lake front camping and beach access. The campground is in a loop format and also has a boat launch and day use area with excellent swimming and boating areas. Learn More…

Oak Fork Campground

  • Lakeside Camping
  • Number of Campsites: 47

Oak Fork Campground Timothy LakeOak Fork Campground is one of the first that you will arive to when driving to Timothy Lake from Highway 26. A recent renoovation in 2017 added 7 cabins to the campground and improved upon the existing campsites. Be sure to make reservations as this a popular one!Learn More…

Pine Point Campground

  • Lakeside Camping
  • Number of Campsites: 25

Pine Point CampgroundPine Point campground is located on the south shore of Timothy Lake next to the dam and was recently given a facelift with new paving and campground amenities. You will typically find more RV’s and trailers in this campground and it also has beach front water access, picnic tables and a boat launch. Learn More…

The Cove Campground

  • Lakeside Hike In Camping
  • Number of Campsites: 10

The Cove CampgroundThe Cove campground is a hike in only area that is located between Gone Creek and Hoodview campgrounds on the lake shore. It only has 10 campsites and is a little more private that the other campgrounds on the lake. The Timothy Lake trail goes right through the campground so expect to see hikers and bikers throughout the day. Learn More…

North Arm Campground

  • Lakeside Camping
  • Number of Campsites: 8

North ArmThe North Arm campground at Timothy Lake is a smaller, more secluded campground nestled on the North shore of the lake. The campground lacks views of Mt. Hood but is a quieter option that still has beach access. Most waterfront sites fill up fast so be sure to make a reservation. Learn More…

Meditation Point Campground

  • Lakeside Hike in Camping
  • Number of Campsites: 5

Meditation Point, OregonMeditation Point Campground is located on the NW side of Timothy Lake and is a hike in only campground. The hike is roughly a mile or so and is really not difficult but it should be noted that you would want a backpack for this. The campground is extremely secluded and a few sites are right on the water. There is not much of a beach here but you cannot beat the privacy. Learn More…

Little Crater Lake

  • No swimming, about a mile from Timothy Lake
  • Number of Campsites: 16

Little Crater LakeLittle Crater Lake campground is located about a mile from Timothy Lake and is a good campground alternative if all other areas on Timothy Lake are full. There is NO SWIMMING at Little Crater Lake though the water is a sight to see. Learn More…

Clackamas Lake Campground

  • No swimming, about a mile from Timothy Lake
  • Number of Campsites: 46

Clackamas Lake OregonSimilar to Little Crater Lake, Clackamas Lake is not ideal for swimming but is just a mile or so from Timothy Lake. It is a great option if Timothy Lake is full and Clackamas Lake is a unique site in itself. Learn More…

Things to do at Timothy Lake

There are plenty of things to do at Timothy Lake during the summertime including hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, biking and lounging in the sun on the beach.

Hiking and Biking around Timothy Lake

Map of Timothy Lake

Download a high resolution pdf map here

There is a great trail that runs around the perimeter of the lake and is open to both hiking and biking and is 13 miles in distance. The west side of the lake is a great area to explore as there are no drive in campgrounds and you can find yourself your own little beach with little effort.   For more information on the Timothy Lake Trail check out this P0rtland Hikers post. 

Boating on Timothy Lake

There quite a few boat ramps (4) at Timothy Lake making it very easy to launch and be on the water in no time.  Ramps are typically found in the campgrounds near the day use areas and there is a parking fee to leave your trailer or care. It is important to note, though, that there is a strictly enforced 10mph speed limit on the ENTIRE lake.  It is for this reason that Timothy Lake is more popular with non-motorized boats though you will find motorboats on the lake.  Keep in mind that due to its popularity the law is strictly enforced and you will want to make sure you have life vests even on small inflatable rafts.

Swimming in Timothy Lake

Timothy Lake is an amazing place for summertime swimming that is hard to beat anywhere else nearby.  On a warm July or August day the water is perfect and the semi-rocky beaches are great for laying out on.  Some of the best swimming in the lake can be found near the day use areas of Gone Creek Campground and Hoodview Campground and if the weather cooperates you will get excellent views of Mt. Hood. Keep in mind that Timothy Lake is man made so you will find stumps and other odd hazards just under the surface of the water.
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Nick
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Nick

Do I have to reserve a campsite before going or is it pay when you get there?

Janell Niemann-Ross
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Janell Niemann-Ross

Hi Muddy Camper,

Have canoe, will paddle. Are there any undesignated sites around Timothy Lake that we can paddle into and camp?

Thanks

Janell

Hilva Novota
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Hilva Novota

Do I have to reserve a site for any of the campgrounds at Timothy Lake? If so, who with?

Erin Mac
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Erin Mac

Reservations should be made 6 months in advance and then you may have a rough time getting one even at that, it fills up fast. My family has been going there every year for over 25 years and the last 3 years have been the hardest to reserve. We will get online right at 6am when reservations open and within minutes everything is taken. Its become a well known place and for good reason its an amazing place to camp. Best of luck 🙂

Rei
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Rei

Are there first come first serve sites? If so how many? And what’s the earliest I can show up to snag one?

Mingrey Hildebrandt
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Hi there Muddy camper,

I’m trying to get to Timonthy Lakes Oregon from Washington, so should I go through Portland, then add another 75 miles to that? How far is the drive from Timonthy Lakes to Timberline? We’re trying to meet friends at Timothy Lakes, back packed to Wapinitia Pass, then suppose to end up at Timberline. So, I don’t have any maps, have to buy some green maps, what would you recommend to get? Mt Hood map?

Thanks,
WA chic, love to hike