On Broken Top’s eastern flank sits a jewel of a lake. Its turquoise blue water stands out in sharp contrast to the white glaciers and rock behind it. Yet despite this, the lake remains unnamed and there is no official trail to it. But don’t worry, it’s not hard to find. It has been dubbed No Name Lake and the thousands of other people that want to gaze upon its beauty have created a highway of a user’s trail that travels right to its shores.
The hike to No Name Lake begins from the Broken Top Crater Trailhead. Be sure that you have a high clearance vehicle if you want to make the journey to this trailhead because some of the rocks and ruts on the road are pretty impressive. In addition, the road in is very narrow at times with steep drops off to the side, making passing other vehicles an adventure in itself.
Once you finally reach the trailhead and find somewhere to park (good luck), the trail heads out to the northwest. The wide open expanses are epic on this hike. The majority of your travels will be above the treeline, with only a few weather-beaten examples of trees hanging on to the ridges. Ball Butte towers to your right and for a while it looks like you are headed right into Broken Top’s gaping crater. About half of a mile from the trailhead, you will come a crossing of Crater Creek. There is no bridge or anything here, but it is usually pretty easy to rock hop across the stream.
Once you cross the stream, you will be leaving any official Forest Service trail. A trail does head off to your left that will take you around the south side of Broken Top towards Green Lakes, but follow the highway to the right as it heads up the hill, following Crater Creek. As you climb, be sure to take advantage of a few of the viewpoints as the trail parallels the stream. There are a number of waterfalls as the creek scours out its gorge in the volcanic rubble and, if the time of year is right, the stream banks will be where you can find the most flowers.
The trail continues to climb as it rounds the east side of Broken Top. The views continue to open up, with Mt Bachelor behind you and Broken Hand in front of you. You will likely have to hike through some snow fields at certain points. We had some to traverse even in September. After a little more than 2 miles, you will reach the chute up towards the lake. Although only about 200 feet long, this path is very steep and loose with a creek running through the bottom, so watch your footing. The path up the right side of the creek seems to be better establsihed, so make your way towards that one.
Once you pass through the chute, No Name Lake opens up before you. Bask on the shore in its beauty. There may even be some small icebergs floating in it. Once you get your fill and have eaten a little lunch, you may be tempted to turn around and head back. Don’t. That’s an order. Follow the trail to your right as it follows the lake shore and then heads towards a ridge north of the lake. The top of the ridge is only half a mile from the lake and the 300-foot climb can be hard on your tired legs, but the view from up there is amazing. You find yourself overlooking the rugged, glaciated north slope of Broken Top and all three sisters stretch out before you. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it. Now you can head back. Thank me later.
To reach the Broken Top Crater Trailhead, follow Century Drive out of Bend towards Mt Bachelor. After you pass the West Village entrance to Bachelor, continue on Century Drive for 1.8 miles until you reach the Todd Lake turnoff. You will reach the Todd Lake parking lot along this nice, wide gravel road in about half a mile. Navigate through the throngs of humanity and continue on through the gate past the parking area. Here, for road narrows up, becoming a two track. This section of road isn’t too bad, although it can get bumpy and is narrow. The first intersection you will reach will occur after 2.5 miles. The left route will take you to the Crater Ditch Trailhead. You don’t want to go there so don’t take it. Continue straight for another mile and then take the left towards the Broken Top Crater Trailhead. This is where the road really goes to hell. Hopefully, you didn’t bring your mom’s Prius. It’s just a little more than a mile to the trailhead, so pick your way through the rocks and ruts and have a good time.
Passes: Beginning in 2021, a Central Cascades Wilderness day-use permit will be required to hike from this trailhead between the Friday before Memorial Day and the final Friday of September. The permits will be available from recreation.gov and will go on sale in early April.
Dogs: Allowed and must be on leash or under voice command at all times.
Open Season: Trailhead is usually not accessible until July/August in most years.
Bugs: Mosquitos can be bad during the melt season, usually June-July, then will mostly clear up moving into August.
Flowers: Different flowers will bloom depending on elevation, but July and early August are usually peak months.
Lake Water: A herd of elk were killed in an avalanche during the winter of 2017 just above the lake. Some may have been swept into the lake and others can be seen in the snowfields near the shore. Thus, don't drink the water.