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Bear Lake Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Bear Lake with Mt. Defiance to the east (bobcat)
On the Bear Lake Trail (bobcat)
West shore of Bear Lake (bobcat)
Hike to Bear Lake shown in red (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Upper Mount Defiance TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Bear Lake
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 2.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 480 feet
  • High Point: 4100 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Summer/Fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No



Bear Lake is a secluded little gem nestled below the scree slopes of Mount Defiance. It can be done as part of the short hike to the top of Mount Defiance (See the Mount Defiance from Wahtum Lake Road Hike), as an add-on to hikes from the Rainy Lake Trailhead, or as a destination in and of itself. There are a couple of campsites back from the lakeshore in the woods.

Head 40 yards into the woods on the opposite side of the road from the parking area and come to a large map board and the junction of the Wyeth Trail #411, leading to North Lake, and the Mt. Defiance Trail #413. Go right on the latter trail and head into a coniferous woodland of mountain hemlock, silver fir, noble fir, western white pine, and Douglas-fir. Huckleberry and bear-grass predominate in the understory. Rise slowly to the unmarked Mount Defiance-Bear Lake Trail Junction, indicated by a small cairn.

Go left here on the Bear Lake Trail #413A. After a few yards, enter the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness. The trail rises gently and crosses the top of a talus field. After reentering the woods, the trail drops down on a rocky tread to the shore of Bear Lake. Newts drift lazily in the waters and the scree slopes of Mount Defiance loom above. Spend a few minutes or a night enjoying the scene.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • none


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Bear Lake Trail #413A (USFS)
  • Green Trails Maps: Hood River, OR #430
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - West #428S
  • Geo-Graphics: Trails of the Columbia Gorge
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Hood River Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland and Northwest Oregon by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker
  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • One Night Wilderness: Portland by Douglas Lorain
  • Oregon's Columbia River Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill

More Links

Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.