Every summer around July Oregonians start seeking out ways to escape from the heat. This past weekend was no different and it prompted my wife and I to get away to a mountain lake and enjoy some time in the water. The only problem was that most swimming holes in Oregon have incredibly chilli water even in the dead of summer. I decided to pull out my old Oregon Swimming Holes book and find a spot we could cool off in but not freeze in our state’s notoriously cold water. I also didn’t want to go too far out of the way as I was looking for a day trip. Timothy Lake, Trillium Lake and many other nearby bodies of water had already been explored and I wanted something new and off the beaten path. What we found was a little treasure sitting at an elevation of about 4,000 feet called Buck Lake.
Now normally if I run across a place like this I wouldn’t write about it for fear of crowds ruining the charm, however, Portland Monthly already did this in a recent article so I won’t feel as bad. If you are interested in visiting Buck Lake you are on your own in terms of finding it (it can be tricky).
The hike into Buck Lake is just under a half mile and is slightly steep and rocky which seemed to prove difficult for many people visiting when we were there. If you are an experienced hiker this little walk in won’t phase you at all. It was somewhat shocking to see how many people struggled on this short and easy trail.
The lake itself is small enough to swim across and is great for just lounging in a tub or on an air mattress. The water is warm and clear and you can see to the bottom in even the deeper parts of the lake. There is not much of a beach area and probably the best spot to hang out at is on the rock slide side of the lake where you can find a flat rock to lounge on.
If you visit Buck Lake you should know that the road in is long and windy and when you go off the paved section your car is going to get scratched up pretty good due to how narrow the road is and thanks to the encroaching brush that has not been cut back in what looks like years. If you don’t want your car to get scratched you could easily park further down the road and walk in about a quarter to half mail to the trailhead. There is a very small parking area and on busy days you will have to park off the side of the road up against the brush. Be sure to bring a floaty and if you want to explore the clear water bring a snorkel and a mask.
This is by far one of the best swimming holes we have been to in Oregon and its secluded nature is a contributing factor. That and the 70 degree, opal water.