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Your guide to Lake of the Woods
Welcome to Lake of the Woods
The name Lake of the Woods tells you all you need to know about this outdoor destination in southern Oregon’s Cascade Range: It’s a natural lake and it’s deep in the woods — but, of course, there’s a lot more to this serene place, which has kept families coming back for generations. This pristine alpine lake is ringed by the Fremont-Winema National Forest. A snow-covered dormant volcano looms in the distance, and cottages flank its shores. Day-use areas welcome swimmers to take a dip in the chilly waters and picnickers to spread out under the towering fir trees. Boaters, stand-up paddleboarders, and kayakers run the show in the summer, while winter snowfall brings out cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobiles. A couple restaurants, a general store, and a full-service marina keep most campers happy, but urbane attractions are few. This vast wilderness playground is perfect for an off-the-grid escape.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Lake of the Woods
Summer at Lake of the Woods means long, sunny days on the water. The warmest months of July and August mark the peak times for boating and paddling as well as hiking and backcountry treks. Temperatures cool and the days become shorter in fall, when you’re more likely to have a corner of the lake to yourself or find trailheads empty. The elevation here in the Cascades guarantees snow in winter, when the lake freezes over and fishing by boat gives way to ice fishing. Come here in January and February for ice skating on the lake, snowshoeing through the forests, and cozying up in your cabin at night. Families return in larger numbers by spring break, when much of the snow melts and wildflowers bloom in the meadows.
Top things to do in Lake of the Woods
Boating and paddling
A full-service marina rents all the gear you need to enjoy an afternoon on the clear waters of the lake. Anglers might want to hop on a pontoon boat with rods and bait for an afternoon. If you prefer, skim the surface on a kayak or paddle board — circling the shores and watching for wildlife in the surrounding evergreen forests.
Mt. McLoughlin Trail
The snowy peak of Mount McLoughlin shimmers when reflected in the Lake of the Woods, luring advanced hikers away from their cabins in the early morning for an arduous daylong climb to the summit at 9,495 feet. This challenging 10-mile round-trip trek along the Mount McLoughlin Trail, which links up with the grand Pacific Crest Trail, is a bucket-list hike in Southern Oregon that only experienced hikers should attempt.
Great Meadows Sno-Park
Winter turns the Fremont-Winema National Forest into a snowy playground, with freshly dusted forests ready for crunching on snowshoes, zipping along on cross-country skis, or revving up snowmobiles. Great Meadows Sno-Park ranks as one of the prime destinations in Southern Oregon for its 165 miles of groomed trails, which typically remain covered in the white stuff from late November through early March. Keep in mind: You’ll need to purchase an Oregon Sno-Park Permit before you visit.