Trips & Trails: Three Creeks Lake Road

Photo By: Scosche

For those looking for a bit of adventure before or after Overland Expo Pacific Northwest in Bend, I can advise you to check out Three Creeks Lake Road, an easy, 45-ish mile backcountry route in Deschutes National Forest that borders Three Sisters Wilderness and encompasses lots of dispersed camping sites, mountain lakes and creeks, and stunning scenery.

Three Creeks Lake Road, Bend, Oregon

Three Creeks Lake Road is a fantastic detour between Bend and Sisters, Oregon in the late-spring and summer months (snow can persist into early-spring, depending on the weather conditions) and is an easy, graded dirt road – mostly two-wide with pullouts for the narrower sections.

Read More: Trips & Trails: Cinder Butte Viewpoint

What Three Creeks Lake Road lacks in difficulty, it more than makes up for in beauty. From the road, you can see views of the Three Sisters peaks, you can access Tumalo Falls, a 97-foot (30 m) waterfall on Tumalo Creek, you can fish at Three Creek Lake (and other surrounding lakes), and check out an abandoned fire lookout tower on Trout Creek Butte at an elevation of 5,546 feet.

What to Know:

  • Time: Give yourself at least two days for this drive, but consider spending more time exploring the area.
  • Distance: 45.6 miles
  • Fuel: Fuel is available in Bend and Sisters, Oregon.
  • Highest elevation: 6,778-feet
  • Water: Available in Bend and Sisters, Oregon. During the summer months, temperatures can top 100 degrees, so bring more water than you plan to use.
  • Permits: Oregon State ATV Permit Required.
  • Campfires: Campfires are permitted, but please keep them small, and don’t leave them unattended. High winds and dry conditions can fuel a wildfire even at unlikely times of the year.
  • Other considerations: Deschutes National Forest is remote, and visitors should be equipped to be self-sufficient. Riders should wear appropriate safety gear, carry a first aid kit, and never ride alone. Most Forest Service and BLM personnel have radios and can give assistance. There is a cellular phone repeater on Grizzly Mountain, and coverage is fair for most of the area.

It shouldn’t have to be said, but please clean up after yourself when visiting Deschutes National Forest. Pack out what you pack in and leave your campsites cleaner than when you found them. Please treat the backcountry like you would your home.

Note: This editorial is for informational purposes only.  Trail conditions are variable and should be researched and confirmed by you prior to use.  Always obey property lines and use common sense to verify boundaries, roads, and trails.

Photo by Brett Willhelm


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