No Name Lake – Oregon - Atlas Obscura

No Name Lake

Unknown to many, this sparkling turquoise lake hides amid Oregon's snowcapped mountains. 


With so much to see and do in Oregon, it’s still amazing to find a location that few people know about. No Name Lake is such a place.

The colorful lake is nestled within a stretch of mountains. When the snow melts on Broken Top Mountain and its surrounding peaks, the water pools to form this picture-perfect natural wonder.

During the spring to summer months, when the lake is not frozen, it exudes a beautiful turquoise color that sparkles in the sunlight and makes it stick out from the rest of the landscape. Moreover, even during the peak of summer, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the snow and ice perched at the summit of Broken Top.

The lake’s striking color isn’t the only reason to trek to this spot. Here, you’ll also be greeted with spectacular views of the steep valleys and mountains Oregon has to offer, as well as its lush and dense forests.

Additional bonuses are the fact that dogs are allowed (though your canine hiking partners must be leashed). Camping is no allowed along the shore of the lake, but you can camp outside the caldera—as long as you clean up after yourself and leave no trace of your presence—ensuring you’ll spend the night surrounded by nature’s beauty.

Know Before You Go

The lake itself is accessible only by foot, which makes it that more exclusive and fulfilling for those who arrive here. The out-and-back hike is around 15.2 miles (24 kilometers) and deemed difficult with undulating terrain. Signage is available throughout, but it is suggested to bring along a map and compass for extra measure. As such, make sure that you are physically and mentally capable. This a very serious hike, so make sure to bring plenty of fluids and proper gear with a good and early start. 

The starting point begins at the intersection of Todd Lake road and NF-370 (just off the Cascade Lake National Scenic byway at Todd Lake). This is a very rough dirt road that requires high clearance vehicles, preferably with 4-wheel drive. A day or overnight permit from the Forest Service is required and can be purchased online. Day permits sell out far in advance, though you can get tickets frequently 2 days before when they release some. Because of its elevation, the road to get up there is typically open between July and October. The rest of the year will see this part of Oregon covered in snow, when access by snowmobile to the edge of the Wilderness area, where the parking is for cars, is fun. It is an extremely arduous and dangerous hike in the snow though.

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