Todd Lake is a top destination for Bendites that want a quick dose of amazing scenery or that are playing host to out of town visitors. With impressive views of Mt. Bachelor and Broken Top, a dense forest of Mountain hemlock and fir trees, and open meadows of paintbrush and other wildflowers, Todd Lake ranks high in terms of bang for buck. The hike around the lake is a short 1.5 miles and, with less than 100 feet of elevation change, is more or less flat, making it appropriate for hikers of all ages and abilities.
We last hiked the Todd Lake loop on the afternoon on August 11, 2017 with our friends Jeff and Karin from Baltimore. Todd Lake was our second to final stop on a day that included trail running in Shevlin Park, brunch at Sparrow Bakery, and a walk along the Deschutes River. Despite a heavy downpour enroute to the trailhead, the sun was out when we arrived at Todd Lake and the air was fresh and cool, a nice change after several days of hot and smoky conditions in Bend.
Before setting off on our circuit of the lake we introduced Jeff and Karin to the wonders of geocaching. There are two geocaches a short distance away from the Todd Lake parking area (Todd Lake and Kissy’s Kache) that we’d failed to find on prior visits to Todd Lake and
on this day we finally tracked them down. Feeling chuffed we started the 1.5 mile loop around the lake. The shady trail hugs the lake, rolling up and down a few feet here and there on the way to a huge meadow at the top of the lake. After about .5 miles we emerged from the trees and began our journey across the slightly boggy meadow, making use of the dozen or so wooden planks to avoid the water trickling down from hillsides which are actually a glacial cirque formed 13,000 years ago. Tired of repeated stops for photo taking, Zoe broke free from my grip and raced across the meadow, splashing through puddles and jumping over the small bushes and patches of wildflowers. After several failed attempts to film Zoe jumping across a particularly wide stream, we hiked away from the lake towards a dense stand of trees in search of an elusive geocache called Todd Lake Cache Again. After ten minutes of searching Jeff and I were ready to give up the hunt but Karin managed to track down the cache in a spot that Angelique and I had searched during a previous visit to the lake. Well done Karin.
The hike back to the parking area is much the same as the hike out, but the forest is not as dense on the west side of the lake and hence the views of the lake are superior. The west side of the lake is also home to several large fields of wildflowers that seem to be in bloom between late June and late August. Near the bottom of the lake (i.e., near the beginning of the hike), not far from the dirt road that climbs to the camping area, the views of Broken Top are outstanding and a quick wander along the shoreline is worthwhile. Unfortunately for us the weather deteriorated quite significantly when we arrived at the campground road so, after snapping a few more photos, we quickly headed down the gravel road .1 miles to the car. Thunder, lightning, and a light rain arrived just after we loaded Zoe into the car and followed us most of the way back to Bend where we celebrated the end of a fun day at Crux Fermentation Project.
September 2016 – Late in the afternoon on a glorious day in September we met up with our neighbors Rob and Jen and headed to Todd Lake and Road 370 with the goal of climbing to Broken Top’s crater. Rob offered to drive us all in his Land Rover and I’m glad he did since Road 370 is one of the worst roads I’ve ever driven on, with huge ruts and rocks to navigate enroute to the trailhead. Sullivan describes the drive on Road 370 as “2.7 painful miles” followed by and “equally miserable“ 1.3 mile long spur, and believe me he isn’t exaggerating. Since Rob is a great driver and has navigated up and down Road 370 numerous times over the years we emerged from the car only slightly worse for wear.
The 5.5 mile roundtrip hike to the Broken Top crater begins in a broad meadow with nice views of Broken Top’s crags. Climbing gently at first, the trail passes giant rocks and stunted trees before reaching a junction with a trail to the Green Lakes. From here the trail begins to climb more steeply and views to the south and east begin to open up. After crossing two small creeks the trail mellows a bit before climbing even more steeply. I was happy to have my hiking boots and poles on this stretch since the trail was loose and sandy. At a non-signed junction a faint trail continues straight ahead while a steeper and more defined trail climbs up to the left directly towards Broken Top. We slipped and slided up this rocky and sandy trail for a few
minutes and soon arrived at the glacial lake that sits in Broken Top’s Crater. The view of Broken Top’s peak with the glacial lake in the foreground was amazing and with beams of bright sunshine peaking around and through the rocky peak it looked like Broken Top was on fire. After a few minutes of soaking in this view, we hiked along the shoreline of the lake and then climbed up to a pass/ridgeline above the lake which had unobstructed views of the Three Sisters and beyond to the north and the cascade lakes and Wikiup Reservoir to the south. It was hard to tear ourselves away from the amazing viewpoint, but with the sun beginning to dip towards the horizon, we began the sandy descent to the car. We arrived at the car about 30 minutes before sunset, thrilled with our adventure and ready for celebratory beers at 10 Barrel.