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Cascade Lakes Highway: Ultimate Hiking & Camping Guide

The Cascade Lakes Scenic Highway is the outdoor gem of Bend, Oregon. With hundreds of miles of hiking trails, the iconic Three Sisters mountain range, and dozens of beautiful lakes, this highway is the ultimate attraction if you love adventure, nature, forests, and mountains.

Where To Hike and Camp along the Cascade Lakes Highway

We road-tripped many times through Bend before we discovered the pristine beauty along the Cascade Lakes highway. It’s an outdoor adventurist wonderland filled with great hiking, biking, camping, fishing, kayaking, backpacking, and just relaxing. 

  • You will need a permit at any trailhead or parking lot on the Cascade Lakes Highway and some of the parking lots near the Mackenzie River area. You can purchase an annual Northwest Forest pass for $30 or just a day pass for $5 at the ranger station on the right side of the highway when driving to the Cascade Lakes from Bend.
  • Between Memorial Day and October 31st, all hikers must fill out the free self-service hiking permits at the trailheads.
  • There is no food or restaurants along the highway so stock up ahead of time.
Best hikes and campgrounds Cascade Lakes near Bend, Oregon

Can’t Miss Scenic Stops on Cascade Lakes Highway

Elk Lake

This lake is the most built-up place on the Cascade Highway. With cabins, hotels, SUP rentals, and plenty of amenities, it’s a resort. This is a great lake for water sports as well as families with young kids since the water at the lake shore is shallow.

Cascade Lakes Highway: Elk Lake
Gorgeous Views surrounding the tranquil waters at Elk Lake

Devil’s Lake

You can just pull over on the side of the road to capture great pics of the gorgeous green lake or there is a short 1 mile hike from the parking lot.

Cascade Lakes Highway: Devil's Lake
You can stop along the Cascade Lake Highway for great views of the turquoise waters at Devil’s Lake

Best Strenuous Hike Along The Cascade Lakes Highway

South Sister

While we haven’t ever been in Bend in the right season to hike the South Sisters, there’s no doubt it is the ultimate hike in the area. Being the most prominent peak in all of Bend at 10,358 feet high, this hike gives you bragging rights. This hike is very strenuous and gains 4,000 feet of elevation over 5.5 miles (11 miles roundtrip.) Start this hike from the South Sister/Devil’s Lake Trailhead on the right (if coming from Bend).

South Sister Cascade Lakes Highway Hiking
Hiking to the summit of iconic South Sister
Photo via

Green Lakes

Not up for intense elevation gain but still want an amazing view? The Green Lakes trail brings you to some of the most stunning alpine lakes you’ll ever see with views of South Sister along the way. This trail is 9 miles roundtrip, gains 1000 feet of elevation, and starts from Green Lakes trailhead.

Best Moderate Hikes Along The Cascade Lakes Highway

Tumalo Mountain

This is probably the best bang for your buck hike on the Highway. This hike is a short 4-mile round-trip and brings you to one of the most spectacular views in all of Bend. From Tumalo’s summit, you get views of the beautiful North, Middle, and South Sister as well as the jagged Broken Top Mountain and Mt Bachelor. While it’s only 4 miles, it gains 1,500 feet so be prepared for a slight challenge.

Cascade Lakes Highway: Tumalo Mountain Views
The 360-degree views from the top of Tumalo Mountain are incredible.

Broken Top Trail

In my opinion, Broken Top Mountain is the most stunning peak in this mountain range. This hike is accessed from Broken Top trailhead, which is 3 miles down a dirt road from the Todd Lake Trailhead parking lot. Getting there requires 4WD and is only accessible from late June through fall. The 6-mile roundtrip trail to the stunning alpine lake is a bit tricky to follow at times so I recommend following these directions.

Best Easy Hikes Along The Cascade Lakes Highway

Six Lakes Trail to Doris Lake

This beautiful alpine lake is one of the lesser-known hikes on the Cascade Lakes highway. While you you can continue on this trail to 6 lakes including Senoj Lake, Doris Lake is the highlight of the trail. It can be easy to miss so just pay attention to slight trails that veer off to the right of the main trail. This hike is 6 miles roundtrip if you just go to Doris Lake or 10 if you do the whole Six Lakes trail. The trail doesn’t have any hard elevation gain and is very gradual. This hike starts at Six Lakes Trailhead just 2 miles past Elk Lake.

Cascade Lakes Highway: Doris Lake
Hiking to Doris Lake on the Cascade Lake Highway

Lucky Lake

This is a nice, easy 3-mile roundtrip hike to a pretty lake. It is also a great turnaround point on the Cascade Lakes Highway. Experienced hikers can combine Lucky Lake with the Six Lakes trail.

cascade lakes scenic highway Bend oregon hiking camping guide
Cooling off in the heat of summer in Lucky Lake

Sparks Lake

The Ray Atkeson Memorial Trail is a good hike with young kids because of the cool lava rock features along the trail. It is only a 2.3-mile loop and relatively flat.

Cascade Lakes Highway: Sparks lake
View of the three sisters’ mountains while hiking around Sparks Lake

Todd Lake

This is a good, easy hike that goes through meadows, around the perimeter of Todd Lake. While easy, you still get some great views of the Sisters range. This trail is only a 1.7-mile loop and has no elevation gain.

cascade lakes hiking bend Oregon
The hike to __ is a nice leg stretcher but pales in comparison to some of the other hikes in our opinion.

Not Into Camping? Use to Find the Best Hotel Deals In Bend

11 Awesome Campgrounds Near Bend

Camping along the Cascade Lakes Highway is the perfect way to enjoy all these gorgeous hikes!

There’s a little bit of every type of camping along the Cascade Lakes Highway. Whether you need amenities, want a peaceful campground in the trees, or like free camping as off-grid as possible, there’s a camping area to suit your needs.

These campgrounds are only open from April to October.

The only campground with a dump station on the Cascade highway is Lava Lakes RV Park, which is right next to Lava Lake Campground.

Cascade Lakes Highway: camping at little lava lakes campground
Camping at Little Lava Lakes

1 | Lava Lakes Campground

Max size: 40-foot RV + tents allowed
Reservable: Yes (book now)
Water: Yes
Toilets: Yes

Other features near Lava Lake Campground:

  • There is a boat ramp here.
  • Next door is Little Lava Lake Campground which has 12 sites.
  • If you need hookups, there’s Lava Lake RV Park where the only dump is on the entire Cascade Lakes highway. 
Elk Lake water sports on Cascade Lake Highway
Elk Lake is perfect for kayaking and SUP.

2 | Elk Lake Campground (National Forest)

Max size: 28 ft RV + tents allowed
Reservable: Yes (book now)
Water: Yes
Toilets: Yes

The most popular campground along the Cascade Lakes highway is Elk Lake Campground. This is a good campground if you need amenities like water, sports rentals, and a small camp store. The lake is very pretty, but busier than the other campgrounds

Elk Lake Campground can accommodate RV, trailer, or tent campers, however, electric hookups are not available. All sites are equipped with a picnic table and campfire ring with a grill. The campground has drinking water and vault toilets available. This campground also features a boat ramp to provide access to Elk Lake.

opportunity for swimming, fishing, windsurfing, and water skiing. Hiking and horseback riding are popular activities on the Elk-Devils Trail

3 | Elk Lake Resort and Campground (Privately Owned)

Max size: 31 ft RV + tents allowed
Reservable: Yes (book now)
Water: Yes
Toilets: Yes

Elk Lake Resort has cabins that sleep six and glamping tents that sleep 4. The cabins are available to rent in winter and are a popular destination for snowmobile, snowshoeing, and fat biking.

There are also RV campsites at Elk Lake Resorts from May to October but the camping is dry camping (no hookups here).

4 | Point Campground (National Forest)

Point campground is near Elk Lake but is not on the water.

Max size: 24 ft RV + tents allowed
Number of Sites: 10
Dates Open: May to Sept
Reservable: Yes (book now)
Water: Yes
Toilets: Yes

5 | Little Fawn Campground (National Forest)

Little Fawn is also popular for group camping.

Max size: 30 ft RV + tents allowed
Number of Sites: 20
Dates Open: May to Sept
Reservable: Yes (book now)
Water: Yes
Toilets: Yes

6 | South Campground (National Forest)

South Campground is located on Hosmer Lake.

Max size: 26 ft RV + tents allowed
Number of Sites: 23
Dates Open: May to Sept
Reservable: Yes (book now)
Water: No
Toilets: Yes

7 | Mallard Marsh Campground (National Forest)

Mallard Marsh is also located on Hosmer Lake and has access to horse trails.

Max size: 26 ft RV (3 pull thrus) + tents allowed
Number of Sites: 15
Dates Open: May to Sept
Reservable: Yes (book now)
Water: No
Toilets: Yes

8 | Quinn Meadows Horse Camp Campground (National Forest)

With large sites and a vast area to ride on the southwest side of Mt. Bachelor and surrounding areas, this campground is located between Devils Lake and Elk Lake and provides access to the Three Sisters Wilderness via the Quinn Creek Trail or Katsuk Pond Trail.

Max size: 100 ft RV + tents allowed
Number of Sites: 24
Dates Open: June to Sept
Reservable: Yes (book now)
Water: Yes
Toilets: Yes

Meadows along the Cascade Lakes Highway
Walking the meadows along the Cascade Lakes Highway

9 | Devil’s Lake

Devil’s Lake is jaw-dropping beautiful and perfect for tent campers and kayakers.  

Max size: tents only
Number of Sites: 9
Dates Open: June to Oct
Reservable: No
Water: No
Toilets: Yes
Bonus: Free with Recreation pass

10 | Todd Lake (National Forest- Walk-in camping)

Max size: tents only
Number of Sites: 11
Dates Open: July to Oct
Reservable: No
Water: No
Toilets: Yes
Bonus: Free with Recreation pass

11 | Soda Creek

Max size: 30 ft + tents allowed
Number of Sites: 10
Dates Open: June to Oct
Reservable: Yes (book now)
Water: No
Toilets: Yes

There are many great free camping areas read our blog, Ultimate Guide to Free Camping in Bend, to get all the specifics.

Mosquitos are brutal here in the late spring and early summer so bring repellent.

Download our free hiking pack list + more of our camping, adventure, & road trip resources.

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