Chris H.
Portland, OR
Joined September 2016
Free, dispersed camping by the lake

This free campground is just far enough out from the coast and the city that you'll likely be alone, even on a Saturday night. Most folks coming to this area of the forest camp in the more popular (and more expensive) Hebo Lake campground. If you don't need amenities and are just looking for a beautiful place to camp, South Lake is a better option. The road leading to the campground is easy gravel and receives a moderate amount of traffic. During my stay on a Saturday, there was a truck passing by every couple of hours. Most of these folks are hunters. If you want complete isolation, this is not a good place to camp. This is also not the best place to camp if you are afraid of Cougars (I am). There have been several recent Cougar sightings at this Lake. Thankfully I did not see any during my visit. :)

Great low-traffic dispersed camping near Kinzel Lake

This is one of my favorite places to camp near Mount Hood. The road leading into the campgrounds (NF-2613/Kinzel Lake Road) is primitive and just challenging enough to keep most folks away. You will want a motorcycle or 4WD vehicle to get here. It takes me about 25 minutes by motorcycle from Government Camp.

Once at the lake, you'll see lots of places to setup camp, even a few picnic tables and fire pits (although they are quite old). I usually camp in the grass near the lake. There are no fees and I've never seen another person down here.

Great views of Black Lake

I stumbled on this campground while visiting Rainy Lake, which is one mile North of Black Lake. This is a fun campground with a unique layout.

Unlike most campgrounds, the sites are not laid out on a grid. Spaces are spread seemingly randomly on the hillside just next to the lake and connected by thin hiking paths. There is no vehicle parking, but I could see bicycles and motorcycles having easy access to each campsite. A 4-wheeled vehicle will not fit in here. You'll need to park outside the campground and walk-in if that's your vehicle of choice.

The lake is visible from camp and easily accessible.

Great place for a busy weekend

I tried this campground over a busy holiday weekend and was happy to see 3 of the 4 spots empty when I arrived. It's rare to find this kind of place on a Saturday in Mount Hood. We have lots of people that like to camp around here.

If you arrive and find it full, continue one more mile down the road to Black Lake Campground, which has 4 more spots. Most spots have a picnic table and fire pit. There is no water or restrooms.

If the campground is full, you will not have privacy. Some of the spots are touching.