Top 15 Best Lakes in or near Portland

Portland is surrounded by some of the most natural scenery in the USA, and if you’re a bit of a water baby there are plenty of beautiful lakes in or near the city. If you’re looking to go boating, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, swimming, paddleboarding or just gaze at the scenery, here are the best lakes in or near Portland, Oregon…

1. Oswego Lake – the perfect lake for swimming, boating and other water sports

Oswego Lake - Oregon

Located 20 minutes away from Downtown Portland, Oswego Lake is a naturally occurring lake that drains into the Tualatin River. The lake is surrounded by a residential vicinity with beautiful homes nestled in foggy clusters of the hills. 

At Oswego Lake indulge in a wide range of recreational activities, such as swimming, kayaking, cycling, and sightseeing. While you’re at the lake, you can visit nearby sites, such as Oswego Hills Vineyard and Winery, the Arts Council of Lake Oswego, and Lake Oswego Public Golf Course. You will find good places to shop around Oswego Lake. If you visit the lake with your kids, it’s worth visiting Lake Oswego Ice Creamery. 

Address: Lake Oswego, Clackamas County, Oregon

2. Crystal Lake – one of America’s most stunning high-elevation lake

Crystal Lake - Oregon

Crystal Lake is a high-elevation water reservoir located near Bridge City Community Church. The lake is surrounded by sheltered campsites that allow you to have perfect picnics anywhere around the lake. There exist three small lakes below Crystal Lake. From the hilltop above Crystal Lake, you can catch views of Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, and Mount Saint Helens

There is no designated trail to reach the lake. However, you can get there by heading up the mountain through Pacific Crest Trail at Burnt Rock. 

3. Little Crater Lake – a beautiful lake where you will witness the water reflecting blue sky during the day

Little Crater Lake - Oregon

Located in the Mount Hood National Forest in Clackamas County, Little Crater Lake is a small spring-fed lake with a depth of 45 feet. The lake is too cold and not deep enough to swim. 

You can hike to this beautiful lake via a 400-meter-long trail. This trail also gives you access to other trails around Timothy Lake. The temperature at the lake remains close to 34 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. 

Address: Mount Hood National Forest, Clackamas County, Oregon, U.S

4. Bybee Lake – one of the neighborhood’s best kept secret lakes

Bybee Lake - Oregon

Situated right beside Smith Lake, Bybee Lake is another lake in Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area. The lake is surrounded by ash trees, willows, black cottonwood, red alder, and red-osier dogwoods. You’ll also find about 200 western painted turtles, garter snakes, and other reptiles at the lake. You’ll also see a massive variety of aquatic plants flourishing in the lake including pond lilies and duckweed. 

Bybee Lake is heavily fished for carp, bluegill, largemouth bass, crappie, and other non-native species. While Smith Lake is a spot for everyone, Bybee Lake is mostly visited by nature enthusiasts, wildlife lovers, birders, and anglers. 

Address: 5300 N Marine Dr, Portland, OR 97203, USA

5. Crystal Springs Lake – an attractive lake where you can watch a variety of wild ducks

Crystal Springs Lake - Oregon

Crystal Springs Lake is a tributary of Crystal Springs Creek which streams completely within the city of Portland. The creek flows south around Crystal Springs Lake and receives massive overflows from it. It is worth a visit for fishers, birdwatchers, and even hikers. On the east shore of Crystal Springs Lake, there’s a beautiful maze of short pathways. There’s a 120-feet hike on the north side of the Crystal Springs parking area which descends down to the Reed Canyon. You can keep hiking until you reach a footbridge that leads across the starting point of Crystal Springs Creek. The trail is bordered with big-leaf maples, douglas-fir, and red-cedar. 

Crystal Springs Lake is home to mallards, wood ducks, buffleheads, Canadian geese, pied-billed grebes, coots, and lesser scaups among other majestic creatures. The lake is heavily fished for coho, chinook salmon, and steelhead trout. 

Address: Crystal Springs Lake, Portland, OR 97202, United States

6. Firwood Lake – a beautiful lake surrounded by a serene park

Firwood Lake - Oregon

At the lowest point of Laurelhurst Park, Portland, sits a beautiful lake called Firwood Lake. Firwood Lake is home to some of the most magnificent natural creatures including geese and ducks. As you stroll through the park, you get to indulge in the mesmerizing beauty of the lake and the vegetation surrounding it. The azure water of the lake is covered by a thick layer of viridescent water lentils. The periphery of the lake is laced with evergreen trees which make it a perfect spot for photography. 

While it seems like a natural place for a lake, Firwood Lake hasn’t always been there. It was developed in the 1920s to augment the beauty of the park. While you’re at the park visiting the lake, you can visit other recreational areas in the park that include a basketball court, volleyball court, horseshoe pit, picnic site, and soccer field among others. Laurelhurst Park remains open from 5 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. 

Address: SE Cesar E Chavez Blvd & Stark St, Portland, OR 97214, United States

7. Commonwealth Lake – a perfect spot for a picnic and birdwatching

Commonwealth Lake - Oregon

Located on the north side of Beaverton, Commonwealth Lake is an ideal spot for anglers and birders. The lake is well-stocked with and heavily fished for trout and several warmwater fish. The best time to visit the lake is from March to May. The lake remains open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on all days of the week. 

Commonwealth Lake has access points for people with disabilities which allows disabled anglers to relish fishing to the fullest. The lake is nestled in a suburban park that also houses a hiking trail, soccer field, and playground among other recreational spots. From great blue herons to cedar waxwings, you’ll find a large variety of birds gliding over the lake. 

Address: SW Butner Rd &, SW Huntington Ave, Portland, OR 97225, United States

8. Force Lake – a small lake with a significant number of species

Force Lake - Oregon

Nestled in Portland’s Historic Kenton District, Force Lake is an exquisite small lake that lies between Portland Expo Center and Heron Lakes Golf Course. It was once a recreational spot and swimming place in historic Vanport City. The lake is bordered by divine verdure which makes it a perfect spot for photography. 

Force Lake is home to magnificent wildlife with a great diversity of birds including cedar waxwings. However, the lake is not safe to swim as the water is clogged with trash, weeds, and runoff from vehicles. 

Address: 11415 North Force Avenue, Portland, OR 97217, United States 

9. Smith Lake – a natural area where you can enjoy canoeing and kayaking

Smith Lake - Oregon

Located within Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area, Smith Lake is a tributary of the Columbia River. It is a part of the country’s largest urban freshwater wetlands. While you visit the lake, you can enjoy plenty of amenities, such as parking space, covered shelter, a paved walkway, and restrooms. 

The lake has a paved wheelchair-accessible path for disabled individuals. The lake is worth a visit for boaters, wildlife lovers, walkers, bicyclists, birders, and fishers. If you are into non-motorized boating, this is an ideal recreational spot for you. From canoes to kayaks to outriggers, you can enjoy all types of non-motorized boating here. 

Address: 5300 N Marine Dr, Portland, OR 97203,United States

10. Reed Lake – a lovely lake that has been noted as the oldest naturally occurring lake in the city

Reed Lake - Oregon

Located on the north side of Reed College, Reed Lake is the oldest naturally occurring lake in the city. The lake lies in the heart of the Reed Canyon, a watershed that extends east to west, covering an area of 28 acres. There’s a beautiful nature trail that runs beside the lake which is ideal for both hiking and sight-seeing. 

Reed Lake is what makes Reed Canyon worth a visit. The lake is accessible via two pedestrian bridges and a land bridge. It is worth visiting particularly during winter when the water is layered with a light dusting of snow which makes the view even more beautiful. As you stroll across the lake, you will get to see plenty of wildlife including nutria, ducks, beavers, and muskrats. 

Address: 3203 SE Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, Oregon 97202, United States

11. Jewett Lake – a cute pond with several landmarks in the vicinity

Jewett Lake - Oregon

Jewett Lake lies in the interior of Island State Recreation Area near Portland. It is a freshwater lake that houses a large variety of wildlife, including birds, bats, turtles, and salamanders. 

Jewett Lake is only accessible by boats and offers fishing, camping, and hiking. However, you will require a permit to hike the tricky trails in the area. The lake is heavily fished for salmon, whitefish, grayling, trout, and char. The lake has a 208 feet long frontage which makes it a perfect summer picnic spot with amenities like picnic tables, barbecue grills, and pit toilets. 

If you’re into boating, you can indulge in various non-powered watercrafts including sailboating, canoeing, paddling, and kayaking. 

Address: Government Island State Recreation Area, Portland, OR 97230, USA

12. River Forest Lake – an ideal lake for fishing where you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings

River Forest Lake - Oregon

Located a few miles away from Oak Grove in Clackamas County, River Forest Lake is a famous picnic spot among fishing enthusiasts. However, you may not want to take your children for fishing here as the lake is over-populated with some dangerous fish species.

The greenery surrounding the lake is mesmerizing. You will also come across plenty of fauna there, such as water birds and ducklings. If you want to enjoy a few hours of solitude, this low-traffic lake may be an ideal spot for you. 

Address: Oak Grove, OR 97267, USA

13. Blue Lake Regional Park – a public lake very close to Portland’s downtown perfect for all ages and groups

Blue Lake Regional Park - Oregon

Blue Lake Regional Park is a recreational park in Fairview, in the Multnomah County of Oregon. The park has many covered and uncovered picnic areas and playgrounds for different sports. It also offers other recreational activities, such as fishing, swimming, and boating. 

Blue Lake Regional Park houses a beautiful lake, three ponds, wooded areas, and a wetland. The park also has paved pathways and trails well-suited for hiking and biking. The place is worth a visit for hikers, birders, and wildlife lovers. The park is ornamented with exquisite verdure that includes cottonwoods, willows, cattails, and other wetland plants. 

Address: 21224 NE Blue Lake Rd, Fairview, OR 97024, United States

14. Doane Lake – another tranquil spot in PortlandDoane Lake - Oregon

Doane Lake is a high-elevation lake located on the south of Cathedral Park, near Block Northwest Saint Helens. It is a freshwater lake with a dense population of fish belonging to the sunshine family of ray-finned fish. It is heavily angled for smallmouth bass and black crappie. 

Doane Lake is home to graceful, divine, and majestic swans, geese, and ducks among other aquatic birds. The mahogany trees surrounding the lake makes it an out-and-out photography spot. The place has a romantic touch and is an ideal picnic spot for couples. 

Address: Portland, OR 97210, USA

15. Mud Slough – a simple wetland that is naturally beautiful 

Mud Slough - Oregon

Located in the Willamette Valley, Mud Slough is a wetland that extends 2.5 acres to the west of Rickreall. It features water habitats for cattails, sedges, rushes, and willow. While the place can be visited for afternoon strolls, it is not an ideal picnic spot as there are no sheltered campsites. 

Most of the area of Mud Slough is covered with ryegrass. In the heart of the wetland, there lies a pond that houses unique varieties of aquatic wildlife. Though the place may not be an ideal spot for barbecues, it’s a must-see for wildlife lovers and nature enthusiasts. 

Address: Portland, OR 97217, USA


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