Todd Lake is a beautiful lake that occupies the bottom of a glacial cirque which formed over 13,000 years ago when the glaciers occupying the area melted. Now, the nice carved depression is filled with 45 acres of water, with some spots reaching 60 feet in depth. This is an extremely popular spot for visitors during the summer, with its easy access off of the Cascades Lakes Highway and beautiful setting. So you may want to plan your visit for a weekday or very early, or you may be adding a good half mile to your hike as you find yourself parking way down the road. Your call.
Begin your hike from the day-use parking area. You can’t miss it. There will be gated road heading to the left and about a million cars parked in an area designed for about 20, and about half a million people just hanging out in the road and strolling around the parking spots for some reason. Once you find a place to park, head past the gate and up the trail towards the lake. It is only about an eighth of a mile and a 50 foot climb before you reach the southern tip of Todd Lake. There will be a day-use area here with a bathroom and lots of picnic tables.
If you would like to circle the lake clock-wise, follow the proceeding instructions. If you want to go the other way, you’re on your own, buddy. Head to the left and cross a bridge over the small creek that drains Todd Lake. Follow a fence line as it heads towards the lake and you will see the trail heading off towards your left right before you reach the lake.
The trail remains fairly close to the shore of Todd Lake. It will in some thick trees for about half a mile, but then pops out into a nice grassy, and wet, meadow. The trail travels over boardwalks in many areas as it circles around the north end of the lake. Watch out for some amazing views of Mt Bachelor over the lake as you reach the far end as well. The grassy north shore only lasts for about half a mile before you reenter the trees. Another half a mile will have you back at the day-use area.
From Bend, take Century Drive, which turns into the Cascade Lakes Highway, west for 24 miles. The turn off for Todd Lake will be on your right, with a nice Forest Service sign directing you to the lake. Head down Forest Road 4600-370 for half a mile and the trail will be on your left. The road is a wide, gravel road that should be suitable for most cars, but there are a lot of potholes.
Passes: A Northwest Forest Pass is required at this trailhead. 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: Are required to be on-leash from July 15- September 15.
Open Season: The Cascades Lake Highway past Mt Bachelor usually opens around Memorial Day. Snow on the trail will generally persist into July.
Bugs: Mosquitos can be bad during the melt season, usually June-July, then will mostly clear up moving into August.
Frogs: Todd Lake is home to the Western Toad and Cascade Frog, both of which are threatened species. That means don't F with them. Removal of frogs or tadpoles from the lake could nab you a fine up to $1250.