I can not tell you how beautiful Hosmer Lake is because I don’t have the words, and it is possible that you may not even believe me. Hosmer Lake is one of those places that I sometimes hesitate to write about; I want to keep it a secret so it stays as beautiful as possible for as long as possible. However, with Hosmer the word is already out. I am just adding my voice to many, many others.
Of course, since the lake is situated along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway the views of the mountains from the lake were wonderful, much like they were from Sparks Lake (which we had canoed the day before).
I was thrilled to find an abundance of bird life. We often found ourselves just gliding and listening to all the bird song. In many places the lake is bordered by some type of reed and two different kinds of water lilies. This “border zone” between the bank and the open water was alive with birds, mostly red-wing and yellow-headed black birds. Many had juvenile-youngsters in tow. The lake itself was full of a variety of water fowl — ducks, geese, grebes — and we often saw bald eagles soaring above us.
I also enjoyed that there were so many nooks and crannies to explore. As we were heading out, I heard about Quinn Creek which people paddle up to view a water fall. With the recent drought, however, the creek was not accessible at all. But that didn’t matter, we spent over 5 hours out on the lake — paddling, floating, exploring, and enjoying a picnic lunch on the bank.
Hosmer is a popular lake with anglers (fly fishing only) and electric motors are allowed. I would be curious to know how many people launched here each day as we saw a lot. But for the most part, the lake is big enough to allow people the space and quiet that we prefer when we get out on the water.
Hosmer Lake is a 2 1/2 hour drive from Cottage Grove — at best. We chose to stay overnight and make a weekend of it, but the friends who joined us did it as a day trip. To get there, take Highway 58 past Oakridge and over Willamette Pass. Turn left on the Crescent Cutoff Road, and in 3 miles left again on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. Continue to the Elk Lake/Hosmer Lake turnoff. You’ll find a boat ramp and will need to either pay $5 parking fee or have a Forest Service Parking Pass (we got ours at the West Fir Ranger Station as we headed out).