Wednesday, November 2, 2016

No Name Lake

The Central Oregon Cascades have so many amazing places to hike.  Although I travel there as often as schedule and weekends permit, I've barely scratched the surface.  So when my daughter recently relocated to the Bend area, my hubby and I eagerly offered to assist with her move.  Not only do we like helping our kids, it provided a great excuse to visit.

Ready to hike!

Two years ago, while hiking into Broken Top Mountain's Crater, my brother mentioned existence of an unnamed glacial lake on the peak's north side.  He'd hiked there once before with a friend and described a gorgeous aqua-blue water body the locals dubbed "No Name Lake."  Ever since then, I've seen numerous online trip reports of this elusive lake, featuring gorgeous photos.  A trip to No Name Lake became high on this year's hiking list.

First view of Broken Top

So after getting our daughter's stuff all moved, my hubby and I left her to unpack and headed for the mountains.  I talked my brother Dale into joining us on a quest to find No Name Lake.

Mt Bachelor rises behind us

To access the lake's trailhead, hikers can choose between an easy drive and a long climb, or a difficult drive and short trek.  Since Dale offered to drive his old truck and likes four-wheeling on sketchy roads, we chose the second option.

Crossing an empty pumice plain

Off we went one chilly mid-September morning.  Following the Cascade Lakes Highway, I looked longingly at Mt. Bachelor as we drove by, her slopes nearly barren of snow.  In a couple of short months, I'd be skiing there once again.  Dale turned into the road leading to Todd Lake.  This was where people with low-clearance vehicles parked to start their trip up the mountain.  But we continued on the rough, narrow track to the upper trailhead.

Rest and view break

Dale's truck bumped along on that horrible, rocky road, lurching and swaying, my hubby and I's heads nearly hitting the roof.  The road was barely one lane wide, and were extremely lucky not to meet any vehicles on the way up.  At such a slow pace, traversing this nearly five mile road seemed to take forever.  Luckily the adjacent scenery provided a good distraction.

Hiking towards Broken Hand

Finally arriving at the trailhead, we pried our fingers off the truck seat and breathed a sigh of relief.  Then, shouldering our backpacks, Dale, my hubby, and I started out for the lake, following the Broken Top Trail.  Our trek began along a barren pumice field lined with a few hardy, gnarled trees.

Still some of last season's snow

After a half mile, Dale directed us to a fork in the trail.  We crossed a small creek, nearly dry from the past summer's heat, and wandered through a lovely alpine meadow, its grasses now golden brown.  Broken Top Mountain's colorful crater walls began to loom above the skyline, and I stopped to snap several photos.

Final push up a steep, rocky slope

Then we climbed another mile and half, through barren rocky plains.  Another smaller mountain, named Broken Hand, became visible and it acted as our guide.  We walked past a couple of tiny snowfields, the final remnants from last winter.  Above the snowfields sat a steep, sandy moraine.  A small stream of water gushed out of a notch near the top.  Dale said No Name Lake was just beyond that notch.

The lake was breathtaking!

Up we went, climbing that steep, rocky slope.  Some of the sandy soil wasn't very stable, and we had to watch our footing.  Several times I slid backwards, and once stepped on a rock that tumbled away.  I was glad for my trekking poles.

Following the gravelly shoreline

But finally we made it to the top.  And - oh - what breathtaking scenery awaited!  The lake's aquamarine waters glistened in the late morning sun.  Broken Top's steep, craggy cliffs rose straight up from the water's surface, a few glaciers still clinging to its slopes.  No Name Lake was as lovely as I'd imagined.

Perfect reflections!

After sitting on the rocky beach and snapping a bunch of photos, I noticed several people following the lake's shoreline around a bend.  Curious what lay beyond, I grabbed my camera and went to investigate.

More perfect reflections

Wow - there was another entire arm of this lake!  It extended past Broken Top's colorful crater walls, ending at another tall moraine.  The mountain made a perfect reflection in the lake's still waters.  Jaw-dropping!  Another frantic photo session ensued.

Lots of people posed on this small rock

As I snapped away, my hubby and Dale wandered by.  They noticed a large amount of people continuing up the slope of an adjacent moraine above the lake.  Figuring there must be something up there to see, both my companions decided to check it out. 

Amazing Three Sisters view from Broken Saddle

My hubby started ascending the slope at a quick pace.  He's normally a fast walker, and I struggled to keep up (I briefly considered slipping a few rocks in his backpack to slow him down!)  Cresting the moraine's ridge, he stopped and gazed, then gestured for me to follow.

All the Cascade Peaks lined up

Puffing up this second steep slope, I hoped it would be worth it.  Reaching the top, I realized it was!  We'd reached a high saddle (I later learned called "Broken Saddle") that provided an amazing panoramic view of the Three Sisters mountains, most of Central Oregon, and all of the northern Cascade Peaks, lined up across the horizon.

Rare photo of hubby and I on a hike

Oh, this surprise viewpoint was almost better than No Name Lake itself!  And we were so lucky to be up here on a sunny, clear day.

Glad we had a clear day

While my hubby and Dale explored a little bit higher, I proceeded to photograph this amazing panorama from as many angles as I could think of.

Looking toward Broken Top's summit

And I didn't forget to look back down at the lake.  My perch high on the moraine provided a great view of it's L-shaped outline.

Aerial lake view

No Name Lake was created from melting snow and ice off Broken Top Mountain.  It's unique milky turquoise hue is due to the abundance of glacial silt from the mountain's slopes.

Ripples on the water

After photographing more images than I knew what to do with, I put my camera away, ate a Cliff bar, and just enjoyed the view.  Afternoon winds made sparkling ripples on the lake's surface, which was mesmerizing to watch.

Heading back down

By early afternoon, most of Bend had woke up, and they all seemed to be hiking to No Name Lake.  Watching group after group of people circle the lake and ascend Broken Saddle, my hubby, Dale and I decided it was time to go.  So down the sandy moraine we slid, taking in the spectacular views while retracing our steps.

Admiring the fantastic view

Passing by No Name Lake once again, it's shoreline was now packed with people.  We didn't linger, and this time trekked right by the crowds.  But I did capture a few final images of this truly gorgeous area.

Return trip

Another hike checked off my bucket list!  I came away totally impressed with this lovely mountain lake.  Following Dale and my hubby back down the rocky path, Mt Bachelor rising above the skyline, I realized how lucky I am to live so close to this special place.

Stats:  5 miles round trip, 1200 feet elevation gain


  1. WOW! That lake is amazingly beautiful. Absolutely STUNNING. that was quite a hike to get to it but well worth it and thanks for sharing all these wonderful shots.

  2. Wow! Putting this at the top of the list when I visit Bend again.

  3. Awesome. Your so lucky being able to visit such beautiful places like that. The lake was a treat but the view from Broken saddle something else. I'd have been taking photos to stich a panoramic up there as I know the canon does not have a panoramic button like other cameras. Took me a while to find this on Google Earth but I found this. I'd have had me phone on me to get this. You are lucky people to have seen this I envy you,-121.6993733,3a,75y,304.3h,87.39t/data=!3m8!1e1!3m6!1s-VGdOc9CvJkQ%2FV7CP4a2S-nI%2FAAAAAAAAAMI%2FFSbqVn1U_qUmNni_LP_Krf9s4P3SPJNrQCLIB!2e4!3e11!!7i3584!8i1792!4m5!3m4!1s0x54b8b2a1ba851961:0x2a099d1e0b2520a1!8m2!3d44.0828931!4d-121.6997595!6m1!1e1

  4. Another big wow! No Name lake is worthy of some glorious name, around here even to dumbest things have names. Thanks for taking me along on another wonderful journey.

  5. Mais uma bela caminhada por montanhas fantásticas e de grande beleza.
    Gostei bastante de ver as fotografias.
    Um abraço e continuação de boa semana.

  6. Hello Linda, awesome views of Oregon. The No Name Lake is pretty and I love the view of the mountain peaks. Wonderful hike and gorgeous photos. Thanks for taking me along. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day and weekend ahead!

  7. You have so many amazing places to explore. And that lake might be breathtaking but so are your photos of it!

  8. What a gorgeous area.. the lake is breathtaking, indeed.
    Wonderful post, Linda.. it took me right smack there!

  9. Wow, what a great hidden gem! And a beautiful day for a hike too. Love the photo of you and the hubby :)

  10. Incredible views and well worth the effort. Great photos. It's a good thing you drove up as far as you did.

  11. Linda, what a beautiful place! I agree, the lake is are the views. Your photos are fantastic!

  12. That lake is so beautiful! And the views of all the other mountains was just perfect! What a great hike:)

  13. Absolutely gorgeous, such rugged scenery.

  14. truly a hidden gem. and my what a view from the saddle.

  15. Yes, you're lucky indeed! That view of the distant mountain peaks all lind up is incredible!

  16. I'm jealous, I've had a 3-day backpack trip going partially cross-country around Broken Top on my radar for several years. Now I feel like it's been tainted, lol. Beautiful pictures, looks like you had one of those crisp clear days that early winter can serve up

  17. I love that kind of terrain and definitely my kind of walk. Great reflection shots and open horizons. Can't beat good weather conditions in places like that.

  18. What an incredible hike! That one's definitely going on my must-do list! You were fortunate your brother was willing to drive that sounds gnarly!

    You are lucky you have more reasons to visit Bend in your future!

  19. What a treat to find that gorgeous lake and in perfect weather conditions.

  20. What a gorgeous lake! Such a beautiful color. :-)

  21. Incredible colours! What a photographers dream!

  22. This might be one of your prettiest hikes. All the photos are fabulous. It looks like tough rocky/sandy terrain. I have a friend who lives in Bend. I'm must ask if he's ever done this hike.

  23. No Name Lake is absolutely stunning! What a fantastic post taking us on another wonderful hike. Have a great weekend x

  24. You live in such a beautiful part of the world! Thanks so much for sharing your images.

  25. Darn, I used to live there and I never heard of this lake. Going to have to go back.

  26. That lake deserves a name - and I should have 'special' or 'remarkable' as part of the name.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  27. So so beautiful. I think I'd walk instead of taking the road though!

  28. Amazingly beautiful .
    lake view is breathtaking .i can imagine your excitement when you got up there
    thank you so much for sharing your wonderful adventures

  29. Stunning place and sensational views, lovin' it! :)

  30. The lakes colour is just amazing. How beautiful.

  31. I love No Name Lake's glacial color and the view from the top of Broken Saddle was magnificent! Best wishes to your daughter on her new place in Bend!

  32. AMAZING SHOTS! That lake in the end is pure perfection. It must have been incredible to see this in person!

    Mersad Donko Photography

  33. Beautiful lake! It was worth the trip!

  34. What a lovely, lovely lake! Really enjoyed your pix of it:)

  35. Gorgeous views of the lake and the mountains. Looks like it was a perfect day for hiking.

  36. Sweet view of the Three Sisters!


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