Is Buck Lake the Perfect Swimming Hole?

Buck Lake, Oregon – The Perfect Swimming Hole

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, 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).

Getting to Buck Lake

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.

Buck Lake, Oregon

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 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 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.

Want to know more about Buck Lake? Check out our official Buck Lake page.




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  1. I am so so so sad to see what has become of this amazing spot. I fear that with time and as more people feel the need to talk about it all over the internet that it will soon fall into the same state that Three Pools has become.

  2. Could not find it!!! Followed very detailed directions and ending up walking in a circle back to the gravel path. The gravel path ends and its brush and debri which we attempted to cut through. There is absolutely no trail heads.
    I traveld a long way for a quiet swim day on this 90 degree day. Eventually we headed to Timothy. Wish there was more information and more of a heads up on the off road drive!

    1. It is tricky to find. There is a trail head and it is fairly obvious once you get there but actually finding the road to the trail head is difficult. The road is paved pretty much the entire way until you get to a turnoff that is gravel for the short and final stretch. From Forest road 5810 you will eventually want to take a left on the gravel forest road 210. From there it is less than a mile up a gravel road to the trail head parking area.

    1. How was the road? The article mentioned lots of wild brush that will scratch car. Unfortunately I no longer have an older car that I wouldn’t mind scratching up. We’ll be bringing our 4 year old (we hike frequently)….. is the trail too much for an experienced little hiker? She’s hiked all the way to the top of Multnomah Falls.

      1. I cannot attest to what the road is like this year… but worst case is you could park at the turnoff and walk in down the narrow dirt road. It would probably add about 1/4 to 1/2 mile to the hike. If your kid can make it up to the top of M Falls this hike will be a cake walk. Have fun!

    1. Good for you Sara! I’ve taken my kids there for years when they were young and now want my grandchildren to know this magical place!

  3. I could not find it, I parked off to the left where it seemed to be a trailhead and one other car we parked walked our dogs over an hour to get to a dead end. We saw what looked to be camp sites but no opening to water I’m sure we walked more than a mile

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