Sparks Lake sits high in the Cascade Mountains at 5400′ elevation. It is well known for its photographic opportunities, especially in the early morning when the South Sister, Broken Top, and Bachlor Butte reflect in the calm water.
The views of the mountains from Sparks Lake are beautiful. We barely had our canoe in the water and I already had my camera out taking photographs and video. I also loved the wildflowers growing along the shore in the large chunks of lava. Columbine, bleeding heart, lupine, and many others were all growing together in the heat of the rocks, all blooming at the same time. It looked like someone had taken a lot of time to plant an amazing rock garden.
Located in the same parking lot as the boat ramp is a Ray Atkeson Loop Trail, which I’ve read good things about. If we’d had the time, I would have liked to check it out as well. With the flowers we saw blooming along the shore line, it was probably gorgeous. And, it means that even if you don’t have a boat to paddle, you can still enjoy the views at Sparks Lake.
We visited Sparks Lake late on a Thursday afternoon in mid-June. When we pulled into the parking lot for the boat ramp I was surprised to see how busy it was. It was a good reminder that while it may be 3 hours from Cottage Grove, we were in Bend’s back yard. A steady flow of people were either putting in canoes and kayaks, or taking them out. It all ran smoothly, and there was ample room for every one.
Honestly, our stop at Sparks Lake was pretty unplanned so I didn’t do my usual amount of research. Later I read this article by Zach Urness at the Salem Statesman Journal (who does great outdoor articles, BTW) which mentions secret passageways through the lava. We’ll be looking for those next time, hopefully when there is more water in the lake.