Suttle Lake is located about 15 miles northwest of Sisters on the U.S. Highway 20. It is the most important lake in the north end of the Deschutes National Forest, entirely in Jefferson County, just east of the Santiam summit. The lake was named for John Settle, a pioneer of the Lebanon District and was one of the organizers and directors of the Willamette Valley and Cascade Mountain Military Wagon Road project in 1866. While on a hunting trip Settle found the lake, which now bears his name in a corrupted form.
The lake was formed and a terminal moraine, which was deposited by glacial ice during the Suttle Lake advance of the Cabot Creek glaciation. The principle surface input to the lake is Link Creek, which flows out of Blue Lake. The outlet of Suttle Lake is Lake Creek, which flows eastward into the Metolius River. The lake covers an area of 253 acres. The average depth of the lake is 44 feet with a maximum depth of 75 feet. The lake has an excellent population of naturally reproducing kokanee, plus brown trout, whitefish, and crayfish.
Kokanee fishing at Suttle Lake is best in May and June using bait. Kokanee sizes currently average 9 to 10 inches. Still fishing from a boat is the best approach, fishing closer to shore early in the season and in the deeper water during mid-summer. The same baits work throughout the season when presented just off the bottom. It is possible to fish from the bank for kokanee near the Suttle Lake picnic area on the northeast corner of the lake.
Brown trout from 10 inches to 10 pounds hide out here, with many in the 3 to 5 pound range. Most are taken early in the season trolling a Rapala near the surface. Late in summer, the brown trout head for the depths. Flashers, lures, and Rapalas need to run deep this time of year. Late in the season is another good time of year for catching brown trout. When late in the day, or anytime light intensity is low, chances of catching a big brown increase. Mid-summer fly fishers troll nymphs and Woolly Buggers near the surface. Early evenings are especially good fly-fishing. Native whitefish of 10 to 12 inches are usually an incidental catch when fishing for the other species. The fry are a favorite snack of brown trout.
Boats are most commonly used on Suttle Lake, float tubes are adequate, and wading is possible in some areas. Launching points are available at Blue Bay C. G., Link Creek C. G., South Shore C. G., Suttle Lake Resort, and the Water Ski area.
Suttle Lake Loop Trail – Trail #4030 (Hiking, Biking) The 3.2 miles trail passes through all of the developed recreation areas on Suttle Lake, making it easily accessible from any point. The trail follows the wooded shoreline of the lake and provides many opportunities for fishing or picnicking along the way. The minimal elevation change on this trail makes it an ideal hike for people of all ages and fitness levels.
Suttle Tie Trail – Trail #4094 (Hiking, Biking) The 5.0 miles trail can be accessed from the Suttle Tie Trailhead. The trail begins at the Suttle Tie Trailhead and ends at Suttle Lake.
Blue Bay Campground & Day Use (located on east end of Suttle Lake) 25 RV/Trailer/Tent sites. Vault toilets, fish cleaning station, piped drinking water, boat ramp, and located at the low speed end of the lake. Reservations available.
South Shore Campground & Day Use (located on south end of Suttle Lake) 39 RV/Trailer/Tent sites. Vault toilets, piped water, boat ramp, and fish cleaning station. Reservations available.
Link Creek Campground & Day Use (located on west end of Suttle Lake) 33 RV/Trailer/Tent sites. vault toilets, piped water, boat dock, and fish cleaning station. Reservations available.
Scout Lake Group Campground (located on Scout Lake south of Suttle Lake) Accommodate up to 100 people. Vault toilets, picnic shelter, volleyball court (net not provided), and horseshoe pits (horseshoes not provided). Reservations available.
Resort at Suttle Lake (located on east end of Suttle Lake) The resort includes a restaurant, coffee shop, gift shop, fishing tackle, new cabins and lodge. Reservations available.
Corbet SnoPark (located west of Suttle Lake) Flush toilet and parking area.
Blue Lake Trail (Cross-country skiing) Best starting point for this 3.5 miles tour is at the Santiam Summit on Hwy. 20 (marked Blue Lake Trail). Parking is usually available for 4 or more cars. Tour ends at the Blue Lake Resort or Alpine Kitchen. A car shuffle is preferred for this trip. Tour is marked with blue diamonds. Trail is mostly downhill. After leaving Hwy. 20, the trail crosses Road 2076, passes through Corbett State Park and ends at Blue Lake/Suttle Lake.
Lake Creek Trail (Cross-country skiing) This 5.4 miles tour starts at the Suttle Lake Resort. Ski out the entrance road and across Hwy. 20. Follow marked trail (abandoned road) until it meets Road 1210. Turn left on Road 1210 for 1.5 miles then turn right on marked road. Follow blue diamonds until you return to Road 1210. Turn right on Road 1210 until you reach the marked trail (abandoned road) back to Suttle Lake Resort.
Scout Lake Trail (Cross-country skiing) This 3.5 miles tour starts at either the Alpine Kitchen or near Blue Bay Campground. Follows the Suttle Lake Trail along the south side of the lake and goes up through the Scout Lake Recreation Area. Trail is marked with blue diamonds. Tour follows both trails and snowed in roads.
Suttle Lake Trail (Cross-country skiing) This 3.2 miles tour can start at numerous locations around Suttle Lake. Plowed parking is available at the Alpine Kitchen at the west end of Suttle Lake. Snow conditions vary from the north side of the lake to the south side of the lake. North side usually has less snow and provides the determining factor on route skiability. Trail is mostly flat and relatively easy. Suttle Lake is visible from most of the trail.
Sources: US Forest Service Photo credits: Mike McCune
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