Round Lake to Square Lake
Several weeks ago, we decided to go to Square Lake. It was in one of the books as a 4 mile hike with a decent level of elevation for us to do it. This book, said to start out at the PCT trailhead near Santiam Pass Summit. We got there and soon realized that there was no way we were going to finish this hike in the amount of time that we had allotted for it, so we turned around and went to our appointment. It was a bit of a disappointment that we never made it to the lake. While doing some research on hikes in the area, I discovered a different way to do this hike. If you start out at Round Lake, it's a mostly flat hike according to the newspaper article I read. YAY! We decided to give it a try.
How to get there
Take HWY 20 west of Sisters. Turn right onto Rd 12 which is also named Jack Lake Road. After about a mile, turn left onto Road 1210. The day we went, there was a sign that said Round Lake. We actually saw that sign before we saw the Road 1210 sign. About 5.5 miles later, turn right at a sign. The sign indicates that there is a Trailhead and a Christian Camp down there. Make sure you look to the right and get some pictures of the mountains over Round Lake, It's gorgeous there. Park on the left near the trailhead marker. There isn't much parking available here, but we didn't see many people, so I don't think it's a busy place.
We signed up for this hike because it was supposed to be relatively flat. However, we quickly discovered that the hike starts off going uphill. I wasn't in the mood to go uphill, but we did it. It was more of that sandy ash stuff that we've been hiking on lately. We're not fond of this stuff. Not fond of it at all. The stuff gets in your shoes and through your socks and it's just disgusting, but this was our second attempt at going to Square Lake and even though my glutes were not wanting anything to do with this uphill madness because of the Rockin' Body Booty Time workout that I had done the day before, we stayed and we did it.
The first third of a mile was all uphill. There were some parts that were steep and some parts that leveled out a little, but for the most part, it was a third of a mile uphill. Once we got through that part, it was a very gentle uphill until we got to the lake. We actually got to the lake earlier than we had anticipated. The book and the newspaper article had said that it would be 2 miles, but we got there in under 2 miles which made us happy!
The terrain was mostly the sandy ash and the path was pretty narrow for most of it. There were several spots where we got some nice pictures of Three Finger Jack. The lake was large and rather scenic. There were a bunch of fallen trees in a bit of a clearing which made it a nice spot to take a small break to have a snack.
This was an out and back hike, so after we took our break at the lake, we turned around and headed back to the car. It was nice knowing that the bulk of the hike back was going to be downhill!
We both really liked this hike. The first part was challenging since it was uphill for a third of a mile, but once we got through that part, it was pretty easy. We got to see two lakes and got a lot of pretty mountain pictures. It would be nice to visit this place again while the mountains still have snow. There were also a lot of pretty flowers too. Flowers, Mountains and Lakes Oh My!
There are no restrooms at this trailhead. The Christian camp is behind a gate. The path was not very busy at all. We ran into two people our entire time there. It's easy to find a place off the path to take care of things if you need to.