Paulina Lake Weekend


The quick and dirty summary of the weekend can be summarized quickly as:

  • Stayed in a volcano (technically a caldera)
  • Took a dip in a natural hot spring
  • Hiked around Paulina Lake
  • Mountain biked the rim of the caldera
  • Saw the sunset from 8,000 feet
  • Spent time with my beautiful wife
  • Live music while lounging on the lake
  • Finally drove over Mckenzie pass

Mia and I spent the weekend up at Paulina Lake Lodge in the Jay cabin.  The lodge is not a grand hotel or sprawling resort, it is pretty rustic, but it was a great place to stay.  We had everything we needed.  The other guests were all super friendly too.

We stayed in one of the classic cabins, but they do have a couple larger and newer “grand cabins”.  With just the two of us and Codi though, we were perfect in our tiny abode.

We could not have asked for better weather all weekend either.  It was in the mid to upper 70’s, up at 6,300′ above sea level, and dropped down into the high 40’s/low 50’s over night.  Clear sky and dry, probably a bit too dry for this early in the summer.

On Saturday morning Codi and I walked the short trail down to Paulina Falls for his morning constitution.  Then Mia, Codi and I hiked the 7.5 mile trail around Paulina Lake.  I was really looking forward to this, because there is a hot spring in the northeast corner that I wanted to see.  It was my first experience with a natural hot spring, and I was not left disappointed. I was actually surprised at how hot it was.  Definitely hotter than I would have drawn a bath.  The way to control the temp though is to let in a little lake water to cool it down a bit.

It doesn’t look like much, but it was really nice

When we got to the hot spring, it was a bit crazy.  A bunch of boaters had come over and basically setup like a day at the beach.  Full on pop-up canopy, toys, table and food.  They were in for the long haul and to make a day of it.  Luckily there are 3-4 little tubs like the picture above, so Mia and I commandeered one for about 15 minutes.

View from our little natural hot tub

After the hike we just hung out at the cabin and read, walked around, cooked dinner and were in bed by about 9:30.  We really know how to party!

Sunday was my chance to do something that I was really looking forward to.  There is a 21 mile trail all the way around the rim of the caldera.  Other than a 3 mile haul up the gravel road to Paulina Peak, most of the ride was fun and flowing singletrack and above 7’000 feet.  I opted to bring the Trek Farley and it was the smart choice for sure.  Being around a volcano, a lot of the trail was loose pumice of varying sizes, so the super fat tires really helped.  I did get to hit a few snow patches too.

Snow?  it’s JULY!
Super fun trail

The east side of the crater rim will connect to a bunch of other trails and must be like a snowmobile highway in the winter.  I’m going to guess they get a lot of snow up here too.  Check out how high the trail marker is from the bare ground (see below)

I’m short, but that trail marker is high
East lake behind me, Paulina Lake way back

Since I got to climb 3 miles to start, it meant a ripping fast and long downhill back to the resort.  It was a bit white knuckle a couple times with a fully rigid bike, but still a lot of fun.

The rest of Sunday was spent tiring out Codi Bob with the lake and sticks, and getting some live music tossed our way by a band playing over at the restaurant.

For some after dinner fun we drove to the top of Paulina Peak and watched the sun set.  It gave us great views of most of the major cascades.  We saw Bachelor, The Sisters, Jefferson, Hood, St Helens and Adams.

Bachelor, South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister (L-R)

On Monday we got busy getting our acts together and getting out of the cabin for the drive home.  We decided to go over McKenzie Pass instead of the typical Santiam Pass.  Neither of us had been this way yet and I was hoping to check it out for a potential bike ride someday.  Needless to say it did not disappoint.

lava and Mt. Washington from atop Mckenzie Pass

I took a boat load of pics and if you really want to see all of them go here.

Thanks for reading,


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