Sparks Lake is located about 25 miles west of Bend, Oregon off the Cascade Lakes Highway, and it is becoming one of my new favorite areas in and around Bend. The Ray Atkeson Memorial Trail is a nice place to view Sparks Lake, some fantastic lava flows, and the surrounding area.
The Ray Atkeson Memorial Trail is a fairly easy hike with about a 60 feet elevation change, and is approximately a 2.3 mile loop hike. The trail also includes a 1/2 mile paved wheelchair accessible section at the start, and several benches are provided to enjoy the great views to the cascades.
The trail is named for famed nature photographer Ray Atkeson, and it takes you along the shore of Sparks Lake, through a thick lodgepole pine forest and past several interesting lava flows. While hiking this trail you are also treated to fantastic views of South Sister and Broken Top, and some views of Mt. Bachelor.
View photo gallery of Sparks Lake & Ray Atkeson Loop Trail – Summer
We usually start the trail and go to the right at the first sign for the loop trail. When you go that way you are treated to some beautiful views of the lake, and South Sister and Broken top. You will then wind your way through some very interesting lava flows. If you want to do the lava flows first, and end your hike with the views of the lake, just go to the left at the loop trail sign, and follow it that way. There is also a “shortcut” trail about 1/2 way through the loop that cuts some of the time and distance off the trail, but you will miss some amazing lava flows and secenery if you take it.
If you are into Canoeing and Kayaking, Sparks Lake is one of Central Oregon’s favorite destinations. You can also just float on the lake on tubes during the summer for some relaxing time as well.
Sparks Lake & Ray Atkeson Loop Trail Photo Gallery – Fall
For more information on this, and other hiking trails in the Bend, Oregon area check out the Oregon Outdoor Activities website.
Directions: To get there from Bend, travel about 26 miles west on the Cascade Lakes Hwy. Not long after you pass the Mt. Bachelor ski area, watch for a sign pointing the way to the Sparks Lake Recreation Area. You will turn left onto Forest Service Rd 400 and follow the sign to the Sparks Lake Boat Ramp & Trailhead (1.7 miles at the end of the gravel road).
Fees: $5 fee or Northwest Forest Pass.