Although there is nothing spectacular or difficult about the hike to the top of this small peak in the northern Oregon Cascades, the payoff comes once you reach the summit and take advantage of it's nearest neighbor to the southeast, Mount Hood. Lost Lake Butte is a well-known recreational destination to Portlanders and is the site of many a historical photograph of Hood. The 167 foot deep lake itself has one of the largest campgrounds in Northwest Oregon but a lot of work has gone into restoring the overused lakeshore (per Sullivan's guidebook) by adding a half-mile long boardwalk and indeed, the trail around the lake is a beautiful 3.4 mile walk with amazing views of Hood reflected in the waters.
The Hood River Indians called the lake E-e-kwahl-a-mat-yam-Ishkt and it means "heart of the mountains." The current name comes supposedly from an 1880 expedition of white men who had trouble finding it. The men, in the tradition of most men who are proud about their routefinding, proclaimed it was not they who were lost but the lake! From its shores, it's an easy 1.9 mile hike with 1330 feet of elevation to the summit which is an old lookout site. Link Here for an old photograph taken when the lookout existed. The view south is as close as a peak gets to Cathedral Ridge on Hood. As you look around, you can see part of Lost Lake to the west and Adams and Rainier are up north.
The hardest thing about Lost Lake Butte is getting there (see below) but this makes for a great family hike and if you want more hiking once you come down from the summit, enjoy the trail around the lake. When you are done with that you can paddle around the lake as well. This one is just pure relaxation and enjoyment.
Getting ThereFrom Portland, take Highway 26 east to Zig Zag and turn left onto Lolo Pass Road (Road 18). Go 10.5 miles to Lolo Pass and turn right onto McGee Creek Road (Road 1810). Go 7.7 miles until it rejoins Road 18. go another 7 miles and then turn left on Road 13. Go 6 miles to the entry booth.
You could also get here from the north (Hood River and I-84) per Sullivan's guidebook by taking exit 62 and go through the town of Hood River for 1.1 mile. Then turn right on 13th Street and follow signs to Odell for 3.4 miles. Cross a bridge, turn right past Tucker Park for 6.3 miles and fork to the right for the town of Dee. Follow signs 14 miles from here to Lost Lake.
Red TapeThere is currently a $6 parking permit for day use required as this is a privately run Forest Service concessionaire. Additional rules at this link as well.
CampingLost Lake Campground
Lost Lake Campground Map and History
Mountain ConditionsLost Lake Campground/Mt. Hood National Forest
Hood River Ranger District