Suttle Lake, Oregon, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Oregon - Central -

Suttle Lake: rustic national forest lake or luxury resort? It’s both! Suttle Lake has been under federal control since 1898 when it was included in the Cascades Range Forest Reserve, which became the Cascades National Forest and finally the Deschutes National Forest. Early in its history, the US Forest Service issued special use permits for limited development to such uses as a church camp, several small cabins and a lodge. The church camp still exists, as does the lodge which has been rebuilt after fire three times. Now the privately-operated lodge operates as a lovely bed-and-breakfast-type resort and spa with only ten rooms and several cabins. Rustic cabins were recently added to increase lodging variety at the resort. Three Forest Service campgrounds along the southern shore and two day-use parks provide plenty of accommodations for visitors to this popular lake. All three are quite rustic; the campgrounds have only drinking water and vault toilet facilities. Luxury or primitive simplicity are thus the two choices available at beautiful Suttle Lake. All enjoy the view of the beautiful lake surrounded by the heavily-wooded shore and the towering Cascade Mountains.

Suttle Lake is popular for water sports and is a favorite with local residents in the Sisters area. There are no motors restrictions on the lake except for a 10 mph speed limit from dusk til dawn. Although the National Forest websites do not show swimming beaches, visitors do swim at the day-use areas and from the resort beach. Campgrounds and day-use areas all have boat ramps. The resort rents peddleboats, paddlebaords, Hobie sailboats, kayaks, boats with trolling motors, row boats and canoes at the Lodge marina. Boat slips can be rented by the night or by the season. Waterskiing, windsurfing, tubing and paddle sports are all enjoyed on the lake. Campsites are so popular that reservations are advised on busy summer weekends. One campground also has several yurts for rent and is open all winter to accommodate snowshoeing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. A triathlon, including a swim across Suttle Lake, is held annually and brings a new group of visitors who soon come to appreciate all the lake has to offer.

Suttle Lake is a productive fishing destination. The lake holds rainbow trout, brown trout, mountain whitefish and kokanee salmon. The brown trout are known to reach ten pounds and are highly sought-after. Rainbow trout are stocked by the Department of Fish and Wildlife regularly. Suttle Lake is one of the few in this part of Oregon with a natural population of kokanee salmon, and efforts are underway to improve spawning areas downstream along Lake Creek. All fishermen must have a state fishing permit and check species limits as they sometimes change according to conditions. Some observers believe that fish numbers have declined in recent year, so a group of volunteer limnologists is working to train volunteers to take water samples and record scientific observations. Donations are being taken to install a monitoring buoy to perform complex testing in the lake year-round.

Most activities at Suttle Lake involve getting close to nature on the Suttle Lake Loop. This trail circles the lake and is used for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The trail intersects other trails into the surrounding Deschutes National Forest. A wealth of wildlife inhabits the area, including black bears, cougars, deer, elk, beaver, bobcats, badgers and a small colony of otters who enjoy the outlet creek. A short distance downstream along Lake Creek, the 1,240-acre Metolius Preserve offers shelter to wildlife and an extraordinary number of birds. The Forest Service publishes a checklist for birders in the area. The creek itself is a vital feature of the preserve as it serves as a spawning area for native redband trout and, it is hoped, native chinook and sockeye salmon in the near future.

Winter doesn’t stop the action at Suttle Lake. A network of snowmobile trails and cross-country ski trails surrounds the lake. Only a few miles away, the Hoodoo Ski Area offers downhill skiing on north-facing slopes that are excellent for optimal snow cover. Visitors often rent the yurts at the campground, which are equipped with wood stoves, as a base for winter sports weekends. Located only a few miles from Sisters, Oregon, the lake is an easy day trip from a hotel or other lodgings at Sisters. Sisters takes its unusual name from three mountains on the local southern horizon known as the ‘three sisters’. This old pioneer town offers much in the way of entertaining activities to visitors. Besides hiking in the national forest or climbing some of the mountains in the nearby Cascades, visitors can explore the trails via horseback, enjoy shopping in the unique shops and galleries, enjoy a movie at the local movie theater, or choose from a variety of eating establishments. Nearby there is disk golf, golf courses, and a number of annual festivals. Some of the more memorable festivals include a music festival, folk festival, arts and crafts festival, and a western and Native American festival. In winter, Sisters serves as home base for two local downhill ski areas and has a number of areas good for snowboarding, sledding and tubing.

A weekend or a week in the Deschutes National Forest isn’t complete without at least a day at beautiful Suttle Lake. There are a few guest rentals in the area other than the resort, and there are other campgrounds nearby. Lodgings may be found in both Sisters to the northwest or Bend a bit farther to the southeast. Both cities offer a variety of local bed-and-breakfasts, guest ranches, and private cottage rentals. So bring the mountain bike, the fishing rod, and your hiking boots. Suttle Lake awaits.

Things to do at Suttle Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest
  • Movie Theater
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Suttle Lake

  • Brown Trout
  • Chinook Salmon
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Sockeye Salmon
  • Trout
  • Whitefish

Suttle Lake Photo Gallery

Suttle Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 253 acres

Shoreline Length: 4 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,438 feet

Average Depth: 44 feet

Maximum Depth: 75 feet

Drainage Area: 21 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

Spread the word! Share our Suttle Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.