Trillium Lake Reflections - Pacific Northwander
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Trillium Lake Reflections

05 Mar Trillium Lake Reflections

We have all probably seen the pictures of Mt. Hood reflecting in a mysterious lake surrounded by forests. Many of the obligatory photos originate from the banks of Trillium Lake. This man made lake is hardly distant or mysterious though and you know what, that’s okay. Sometimes the simple hikes can be just as pleasing as the less traveled, distant ones. This well known destination is worth the crowded viewing deck and busy picnic grounds. It’s perfect framing of Mt. Hood makes you okay with rubbing shoulders with that special breed of wildlife called tourists.

The lake was created in 1960 by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, damming up on of the tributaries to the Salmon River, Mud Creek. Before then it was a marsh that many pioneers passed on while traveling on the Oregon Trail. These days though the lake is a popular recreation destination during all seasons.


Although the lake is almost always busy, you can avoid some of the ruckus during the down season. During this time, the forest service locks the gate at Highway 26 making visitors park at Trillium Lake Sno Park and walk in on the road. This ads about a 2 mile hike, but it goes quick on the empty pavement. Usually the road is closed for a good reason, loads of snow, but for some reason this year’s winter decided to bail on the lake.

Snow shoeing in and being able to walk on the lake ice is always enticing, but the feathery frost that forms on the porous, exposed dirt is cool too. No matter what winter decides to do, there’s a few things you will need to do to make your Trillium Lake experience note worthy.

  1. Plan on being there for sunset. This means you will need to bring a headlamp to illuminate to trip back.
  2. Be prepared to make a fire to keep you warm while you watch Hood turn orangey purple.
  3. Most importantly, bring a thermos of hot chocolate (a camp stove and pot to boil water works too). You will find that this is the best call you could ever make.

Once you have parked at the snow park and made your way in to the lake, it’s time to settle in and reflect with friends around the fire while Hood reflects on the lake.  As the light fades and Hood turns from white to red to orange and purple, watch for the snow mobiles lights illuminating the slopes of Timberline above. If you look closely you can see the the Palmer Lift running up the mountain. In winter, this time of the day is usually quietest out on the lake. You can enjoy some rare silence at this awesome spot.

If you want to stay for the stars and the quiet, you can nab a space in the campgrounds without having the worry about a fee. The perks of the off season. No matter what season you visit, there’s something about Trillium Lake. It is that old familiar friend, that view you’ve seen a hundred times, but never gets old. It’s okay to rub shoulders with a few tourists, because they are there to see that view too.

Trillium Lake Sunset
2 Comments
  • jody mortimer
    Posted at 05:26h, 29 March Reply

    Good advice and descriptions of the lake and surroundings. I actually got lost trying to find this lake. I think I got it mixed up with Lost Lake. Having a headlamp/flashlight is great advice, take it from me I know. Not fun getting stuck on trails after dark with no light.

    • Ranier Evans
      Posted at 02:17h, 02 April Reply

      Thank you Jody! Lost Lake is another awesome adventure, stay tuned for that one. I’m glad you found the blog useful.

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