Ray Atkeson Memorial Trail



Sparks Lake covers nearly 400 acres and is one of the most photographed in the Cascade Lakes region. We've hiked the Ray Atkeson Memorial Trail near the lake in late summer, but this photo was taken mid-October after first snowfall and before the road past Mt. Bachelor is closed for the winter.

The trail is named after Ray Atkeson, Oregon's 1987 photographer laureate.




The trail is shaped like a scruffy figure 8. We recommend looping left, saving the best scenery for last. At the first sign, keep straight ahead on the path marked "Hiking Loop". In the middle of the Figure 8, resist the urge to take the shortcut, pictured here.


Ray Atkeson Trail



Feeding Birds

We stopped to eat our lunch at trailside where there were incredible mountain views and friendly wildlife.



South Sister

Facing north while eating lunch, South Sister stood prominently in front of us to the left ...





... Broken Top to the right (this photo from a September hike) ...  


Broken Top


Mt. Bachelor

... with Bachelor almost an arm's length distance to the east.



Ray Atkeson Trail




The trail continues on through trees, alongside lava canyon walls ...  



Lava Formation

... and past interesting lava formations. Here the trail joins up with Sparks Lake, which has an average depth of about 10' -  perfect for canoeing and kayaking.




On the homeward loop, the trail gives teasing glimpses of South Sister and Sparks Lake through the trees.      
South Sister





Ray Atkeson Trail

The reward at the end of the Figure 8 loop is the unparalleled view across a blue lake.




Elevation: Approximately 60 feet elevation change

Trail distance: 2.3 mile loop

Rated: Easy

Latitude: 44.01583

Longitude: 121.74417

Directions: From Bend, travel 26 miles west on the Cascade Lakes Hwy. Past Mt. Bachelor ski area, watch for sign signifying Sparks Lake Recreation Area. 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 gravelly road).

Fees: $5 fee or NW Forest Pass