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375 Hidden Gems: Exploring the Lakes of the Willamette National Forest. Kayak and SUP rentals with the Cascades Outdoor Center

Updated: Feb 26

The Willamette National Forest, sprawling across 1.6 million acres in the western Cascades of Oregon, is a treasure trove of natural beauty. From towering Douglas fir forests and snow-capped peaks to meandering rivers and cascading waterfalls, this diverse landscape offers something for everyone. But perhaps the most hidden gems of the Willamette National Forest are its 375 lakes, each with its own unique character and charm.


SUP rental with the Cascades Outdoor Center
Stand-up Paddle Board Rental on Waldo Lake.

Popular Lakes:

Whether you're a seasoned hiker seeking a challenging trek to a secluded alpine lake or a casual paddler looking for a serene escape, there's a lake in the Willamette National Forest waiting for you. The Cascades Outdoor Center has a variety of Kayak and SUP rentals to enhance your adventure. Some of the most popular lakes include:


Waldo Lake: This large, deep lake is located near Oakridge, Oregon, and is a popular spot for swimming, kayaking, fishing, and camping. The lake is surrounded by a dense forest, making it a perfect place to relax and enjoy the peacefulness of nature.


Timpanogas Lake: Located at an altitude of 5,300 feet, Timpanogas Lake offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forests. Hike through the Timpanogas Basin, go fishing for brook trout and cutthroat, or simply relax by the lake and soak in the serenity. Check out a great article about this lake and area from the Statesmans Journal.


Hills Creek Reservoir: Nestled amidst towering forests, this expansive 2,735-acre reservoir offers a range of activities like swimming, boating, fishing, and camping. Explore its 44-mile shoreline, enjoy water sports like water-skiing or kayaking, or cast your line for crappie, rainbow trout, and bull trout.


These are just a few of the many amazing lakes that can be found in the Willamette National Forest. With so many options to choose from, you're sure to find the perfect lake for your next adventure.


Elevate Your Water Adventure with Cascades Outdoor Center Kayak and SUP rentals:

For a truly unforgettable experience, consider renting kayaks or stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) from the Cascades Outdoor Center. Their friendly and knowledgeable staff can help you choose the right equipment and provide tips for exploring the lakes safely and responsibly.


Planning Your Aquatic Adventure:

  • Kayak and Stand-up Paddle Board Rentals:

    • Single or Double Kayak: Conquer solo adventures in a sleek single kayak, perfect for exploring hidden coves and testing your agility. Craving companionship? Hop in a double kayak for shared laughs and memories (and maybe a friendly paddle race!).

    • SUP Serendipity: Explore tranquil coves, chase playful waves, or enjoy a peaceful yoga session on the water. SUPs offer endless possibilities for fun and fitness.

    • Safety First: Life jackets are included with every rental, and the Center's knowledgeable staff will provide essential safety tips and paddling instructions.

  • Consult maps: The Willamette National Forest's vastness demands planning. Obtain a map to navigate easily and choose the perfect lake for your needs. Purchase a map at the Mountain Market.

  • Check conditions: Weather and water levels can vary. Check current conditions before heading out to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

  • Be prepared: Pack essentials like food, water, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a first-aid kit. Remember, leave no trace and respect the environment.


Sup and Kayak paddling on Waldo Lake.
Kayak and SUP rentals from the Cascades Outdoor Center on Waldo Lake.



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