Gordon Lakes, Oregon is located about 79 miles northeast of Eugene within the Willamette National Forest. As the name suggests, there are two adjacent lakes with a small creek that flows from the upper lake to the lower.
There are two trailheads that lead to the lakes – Gordon Lakes Trailhead West and East. The west trailhead is about 7.5 miles while the east trailhead is about a 1/2 mile. So if you just want to explore or fish Gordon Lakes, I’d recommend the east trailhead. The west trailhead is perfect for a longer day hike or backpacking trip.
Highway 20 along the South Santiam River provides access to both trailheads. You can read more about each trailhead and Gordon Lakes Trail #3386 here.
Gordon Lakes, Oregon
The road up to the west trailhead is gravel and a bit windy with some pot holes. The gravel appeared to be somewhat new, so there was a pile in the center of the road that caused my poor Honda to occasionally bottom out.
Nat and I arrived at the west trailhead around 10:45 am on Saturday, May 19. My brother Oliver met us there. Keep an eye out for signs that point toward the trailhead. There’s ample space for parking but no potable water, restrooms, or any posted information about the trail. Make sure to bring along your forest pass!
Hiking Gordon Lakes Trailhead West
The trail starts off wide at a slight incline and a bit hidden between the underbrush.
It actually used to be an old logging road but has since grown over.
The forest is open and bright with a lot of tall, thin trees.
Eventually the trail weaves into a thicker forest where the true elevation gain begins.
The fog settled in around the trees as we continued to climb.
Soon the tree canopy opens up with a great view of the surrounding forest below. However, due to the fog and steep trail, I didn’t stop to take any pictures. :]
After a while we reached a road – the trail continues on the other side.
There is very little underbrush and the trees are thinner in this area.
A little ways farther you’ll cross another road – again the trail continues on the other side.
We saw a few patches of snow in shady areas including some parts of the trail.
Soon after we caught our first glimpse of Gordon Meadows.
There are several signs that point you toward Gordon Lakes and others that mark trail splits.
The trail starts to even out, the forest opens up, and the underbrush becomes sparse.
We followed a sign for Gordon Meadows Admin Trail.
Finally we met up with Gordon Meadows where we stopped for lunch. The view was amazing.
The forest becomes a bit thicker as you continue along the trail. At one point there’s a large fallen tree that hugs the right side of the trail. The trail is faint in this area and almost tricked us!
There are several small creeks to cross along the trail. Most have fallen trees to prevent wet, muddy boots.
We reached another split in the trail and followed the sign. Shortly after we arrived at Gordon Lakes.
The trail we followed takes you past upper Gordon Lake with a split leading down to the lower lake. We continued down to the lower Gordon Lake. There’s a large open area with a fire pit and sitting logs alongside the water. We considered this spot but ultimately decided it was a bit exposed and windy.
Then we hiked back up the trail, crossed the river connecting the two lakes, and found another spot down by lower Gordon Lake. We brewed some coffee and tea and relaxed for a bit. After a little while we realized we were still exposed to the wind, so we shouldered our packs and hiked up the hill toward upper Gordon Lake.
We finally settled on a spot off the east trail several hundred feet away from the water. There’s a fire pit and even ground for pitching tents – plus not as windy! Upper Gordon Lake is beautiful and serene.
The Next Morning + Hike Out
It was a chilly, cloudy morning and the fog touched the tops of the trees. Before we hiked out we walked to the west side of the upper lake to get a different viewpoint. There were still patches of snow surrounding the shore.
On our hike out the clouds cleared and we had an amazing view. The picture I missed on the way up. :]
Gordon Lakes is a great destination for a day hike or backpacking trip in late spring to late fall. I would consider the west trail to be intermediate due to its high elevation change and occasional debris. It also offers a longer hike and stunning views of the surrounding forest. The east trail is family friendly and perfect for day fishing trips. There’s so much to explore at Gordon Lakes!