- Trip Name: Lucky Lake Loop
- Trip Length: 27.9 miles loop
- Days: 2-3
- Best time to visit: Late spring to early fall
- Difficulty rating: 5 (relatively easy terrain, high mileage days)
- Views: 4
- Wilderness experience: 9
- Recommended activities: Backpacking
- Best for: Backpackers
- Restroom: Yes, at trailhead
- Permit: Required, Free at trailhead
- Recommended map: Central Oregon hiking Trail Map by AdventureMaps.net
- Click here to download our FREE topo trail maps
- Click here to download this Trail Guide as a PDF
- Click here to purchase the GPS file for this hike ($3)
- Click here to check out our photos from this hike
Trip Technical Data
- Trailhead: Senoj Lake Trailhead (Trail Number 14.1)
- Trailhead Elevation: 4,722 feet
- Elevation Gain: 3,560 feet
- High Point: 6,070 feet on the flank of Williamson Mountain
- CAUTION: Due to the many lakes and streams along this hike there are tons of mosquitoes. Make sure to bring bug repellent!
Driving Directions to Trailhead from Bend
Travel Time: 1 Hour
Heading out of Bend on Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway you will pass the large sign seen to the right. From this sign you will follow Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway for 35.5 miles to the trailhead. Just after you pass the entrance for Lava Lakes Campground and Resort, which is on the left, there is a small brown sign marking the Senoj Trailhead. The sign only reads "Trailhead" and points you to take a right into the parking area.
This lengthy, but somewhat easy overnighter, is a great early season backpack. When there is still too much snow at higher elevations, and in the mountains, this hike allows you to get some much needed wilderness after a cold winter without many nights spent outside. Day one starts with an easy short climb to Lucky Lake, then wandering through some dead, but mostly lush, forests, past several ponds and snow melt feed streams and over some remaining patches of snow. When you arrive at Snowshoe Lake you will find several wonderful spots to set up camp for the night. As day two dawns you will steadily climb past more serene Cascade Lakes, spend a few miles hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail and walk on the southern flank of Williamson Mountain. Here you will gain spectacular views of Diamond Peak before descending back to Lucky Lake and eventually ending back at the trailhead you began at.
From the Senoj Lake Trailhead you will start by heading west up Senoj Lake Trail No. 14.1, towards Lucky Lake, gaining nearly 500 feet in 1.4 miles. When we were there we had to jump over 25 downed trees which you will find all along this hike. Once you reach Lucky Lake, Senoj Lake Trail continues to the right (North) and the Metolius-Windigo Trail No. 99 heads to the left (South). From this point you can go in either direction since this is a loop hike from this point. We headed South on Metolius-Windigo Trail No. 99. Once you get to Lucky Lake you see the trail sign pointing you in the correct direction. Keep an eye out for the trail signs as you hike; every trail intersection you come too will be well marked. Lakes, however, are not signed so be sure to refer to a map for lake information.
As you wind you way along the Metolius-Windigo Trail south towards Cultus Lake you will mainly be walking through a forest of fallen and standing dead trees which were killed many years ago by a beetle infestation. At 3.8 miles from Lucky Lake you will reach a trail intersection where Corral Swamps Trail No. 8 merges with the Metolius-Windigo Trail. At this intersection you need to keep right and join the Corral Swamps Trail and continue to follow it for 3.5 miles.
The next trail you will come upon is Winoppe Lake Trail No. 16. At this intersection you will take a right and then in just 0.2 mile take another right to stay on the Winoppe Lake Trail. At this point in the hike you have reached the lowest point, other than the trailhead, that you will be at - 4,763 feet. Although the entire hike is relatively easy walking you will be headed uphill for the majority of the trek from here.
Just as you start uphill on the Winoppe Lake Trail you will begin to enter a much healthier forest with much less beetle damage and at 0.66 mile from the last trail intersection you come to the side trail to Teddy Lake. This side trail is only about a half mile if you want to check out Teddy Lake but you will be passing so many lakes shortly that it may not be necessary.
As you continue to gradually climb away from Cultus Lake you will pass Muskrat Lake and the much large Winoppe Lake. Just after passing Winoppe Lake, 3.4 miles from the side trail to Teddy Lake, Snowshoe Lake Trail will intersect from the right and you will want to join Snowshoe Lake Trail here at the 13 mile mark of your journey. After this intersection travel 0.3 mile and gain 100 vertical feet to Snowshoe Lake. This is by far the best location we saw the entire hike to set up camp. We enjoyed a nice warm evening sitting on the rocks at the edge of the lake watching the ducks and cooking dinner as the sun set behind us, lighting up the few clouds that floated over.
After waking from one of the best night's sleep I've ever had while backpacking we lingered at Snowshoe Lake for a lazy breakfast before heading out back onto Snowshoe Lake Trail. Another 2.5 miles and you will pass Upper Snowshoe Lake, Long Lake and Puppy Lake before Snowshoe Lake Trail ends and you take a right onto the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Over the next 4.1 miles you will continue to follow the PCT. While on the PCT, just 0.4 mile after you joined it, the Mink Lake Trail No. 3526 will branch off to the left. Here, you will need to stay right on the PCT as you continue to pass numerous Cascade Lakes. As you pass Horseshoe Lake you will begin the longest climb of the hike. From this point you will gain 770 feet over the next 3.5 miles.
At 2.2 miles after the Mink Lake Trail you will reach a four way intersection with the other end of the Mink Lake Trail No. 3526 (on your left) and a short side trail to Cliff Lake and a PCT shelter (on your right). At this point stay straight on the PCT. After the four way intersection, in 1.4 miles, you will reach another four way intersection where the PCT continues straight and you will take a right and join Six Lakes Trail.
In 2.0 miles the Six Lakes trail will head off to the left and you will then join the Senoj Lake Trail making your way up and over Williamson Mountain. As you cross just below the summit of Williamson Mountain and through some small alpine meadows there are several wonderful views to the south of Diamond Peak.
From the trip's high point of 6,070 feet on the flank of Williamson Mountain you will drop nearly 1,000 feet over the next 2 miles back to Lucky Lake and the first trail intersection you were at just the day before. From here continue on Senoj Lake Trail following the same 1.4 miles back down to your car, thus ending your hike.
There are many sections of this trail where we had to bushwhack off trail to find our way around overflowing swamps that had flooded the trail. If you do this hike in the spring please be aware that you may encounter some flooded trail sections.
If time and weather permits at either end of your trip, the drive to and from Bend offers spectacular views of the surrounding lakes and mountains with many viewpoints, campgrounds and resorts to stop at to gaze at the wondrous nature all around you.