Paulina Lake

Deschutes National Forest, Oregon

Paulina Lake

Paulina Lake located just south of Bend Oregon within the Deschutes National Forest makes our top 3 Northwest paddle destinations. Like most of the lakes surrounding Bend and on the Cascade Lakes Highway, the waters are crystal clear and have almost a tropical feel to them. Schools of fish dart around your board as you paddle across the lake including some monster brown trout. (quick fact: in 1993 a 27-pound 12-ounce brown trout was pulled out of Paulina!) Paulina Lake is one of the larger lakes in the Bend area and also allows powered boats. Between the frequent high winds and the boats, the water can get a bit choppy at times. For beginners, hugging the shoreline helps break up the wakes and makes the paddling a bit smoother. This lake is definitely suitable for paddlers of all skill levels and a must do if you’re in the Bend Oregon area! The family-owned restaurant at the Paulina Lake Lodge is a nice bonus and has some great home-cooked meals with very fair pricing, perfect for a much needed full meal after a day of paddling. Paulina Lake is one of two Lakes inside the Newberry Caldera volcanic craters and is at roughly 6000 feet elevation and has a max depth of 250 feet. What really sets Paulina Lake apart from any other body of water in the Northwest is the relatively unknown hot springs on the far northeast banks of the lake. From the main launch site, if your at an intermediate skill level you can paddle straight across the lake heading towards the large red rock ledge. If you’re hesitant to paddle straight across the almost 5 mile wide lake, you can hug the shoreline and work your way around the lake and still reach the same destination, of course it may take a bit longer. Don’t forget to pack a small shovel! The hot springs are hidden within the sand beach at the edge of the lake. Once you’ve found the strip of pebble beach where the hot springs are located, start digging away to create your own personal natural hot tub. By far one of the coolest, or I guess it would be hottest, things we’ve ever done on a paddle boarding trip! Paulina Lake is located within a fee area of The Deschutes National Forest, but the cost are well worth the paddle. There are a few places to launch from, so parking has never been an issue.

If you’ve already paid the admission to paddle Paulina Lake you’ve got to take a minute and check out the Obsidian Flows! It’s a short hike and well worth your time, we promise.

A 1 day pass can be purchased online here:

SUP Site Rating

  • Parking (Availability/Distance To Launch) 90% 90%
  • Launch Conditions 90% 90%
  • Difficulty Level 40% 40%

Note: Paddles above entry level should have no problem traversing Paulina.  Entry level paddlers can enjoy the lake without paddling across the large open waters.