What’s to Love: I’ve lived in Portland since 1999, and this was my first trip to Henry Hagg Lake. I was always concerned that it would just be a big scene with jet skis, motor boats, and a bunch of yahoos throwing trash all over the place. I was definitely wrong and we had a lovely time. I found the entire recreation area clean and a bargain at $5.00 for a pass. The lake offered up a fairly secluded beach with warm water for swimming and a bunch of activities for the whole family.
Places like this try to cater to everyone, and I think they’ve come pretty close! The only thing you cannot do at Hagg Lake is camp. However, that doesn’t stop people from bringing large tents, grills, massive coolers, chairs, and setting up shop for an entire day of fun. Hagg Lake is one of those places where you’ll probably pack the car/minivan to the hilt before leaving.
If you’re into boating/water sports, you’re probably well aware of this destination already. If you’re a non-motorized boat user, fear not – half the lake is a “wake-free zone.” We saw plenty of kayaks out on the lake gently paddling along the shore. If you’re into fishing, Hagg Lake is an excellent spot. They have fishing docks, but we saw people casting from boats and from shore. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout, large and small mouth bass, bullhead and yellow perch.
You’ll definitely want to bring bikes for mountain biking and road riding. The paved road around the lake is 10.5 miles, so bring a Burley trailer for pooped out peddlers. Their website claims 15 miles of hiking/mountain biking trails. “The Lake Trail” skirts the water’s edge all around the lake and at times links up with the paved road around the lake. See “Insider Info” for some possible loop rides.
Although it’s not our thing, power boats for water skiing, jet skis, tubing, etc…fit right in at Hagg Lake. If I had a speedboat, I’d definitely want to take it out on Hagg Lake just for the sheer beauty of the surroundings. Here is a short clip.
Caveats: I’ve only been to the lake once, and we were there late afternoon/evening. It may have been a total zoo that day during the morning and early afternoon. I’m sure many of you have been to Hagg Lake, so please share your experiences!
We were excited to try the 18-hold disc golf course, but it was a major disappointment. The terrain and layout looked perfect, but the grass was waist high and had plenty of prickly weeds all over the place. I can’t imagine throwing a disc here – it would take forever just to find it! If they were to mow this down, it would probably be fine, but the way it is now, I wouldn’t even bother, especially if you have little kids in tow.
Website: Hagg Lake Park
Distance from Portland: Website claims that it’s 25 miles southwest of the city of Portland. Here is a Google Map of the area. It took us about 50 minutes from North Portland.
Recommended Ages: There is something for almost every age at this park. I think people get into the jet skis and motor boats because it is entertaining for older kids/teens.
Parental Stress Factor: It was pretty low stress for us! I think the stressful part might be trying to secure a picnic area on a crowded day. If you can’t find a table, just hike along the trail, and you’ll find a nice spot eventually. I’m sure boating can be stressful for parents, but the day we were there it was very mellow.
Physical Difficulty: The developed recreation areas/picnic areas are handicap accessible and modern. The hiking and biking trail is really fun! I would rate the trail easy to moderate for mountain biking. It’s got a few ups and downs, but nothing to dramatic. If you want to introduce your kid to mountain biking, this is definitely a good spot to do it! They will definitely need gears and hand brakes.
Family Fun Factor: High! Great spot for family adventure and fun. We will definitely go back soon to try more biking and possibly some boating and/or fishing.
Pet Friendly: Yes, but all dogs must be on a leash at all times.
Weather Considerations: Open year round, but I think the best time to visit is during the summer and autumn. I probably wouldn’t venture out to Hagg Lake on a rainy day.
Insider Info: If you plan on doing a combination of mountain biking and road riding, it’s pretty easy to put together a loop that contains both activities. We parked on the west side of the lake (Sain Creek Picnic Area) and took the Lake Trail (mountain biking) past “Boat Ramp & Recreation Area C” up to “Scoggins Creek Picnic Area.” We found some nice beach there all to ourselves! The swimming was muddy but fun. At Scoggins, we took the paved road back to our car at Sain Creek.
We mixed the riding in with swimming and a picnic dinner. If you’re just riding, you may want to continue up toward the north/northeast side of the lake. The loop I described is probably less than 1 mile.
Don’t get stuck on highway 8! Take 26 and 47 south into Forest Grove. Highway 8 (the T.V. Highway/Tualatin Valley) is slow going with lots of traffic lights and not much else.
If you don’t want to bring food, there is a McMenamins in Forest Grove – McMenamins Grand Lodge, which is a nice side trip in of itself.
Family Tips: We went to the lake around dinner time on a Saturday. For the most part, things were pretty mellow at that time. Perhaps, everyone likes to be at the lake in the morning/early afternoon. Bring along a picnic for your family and do some biking and/or hiking. The mountain biking was excellent! I really enjoyed the small part of trail we rode, and I will definitely go back soon.
If your kids swim from shore, they will get muddy! Make sure to bring an extra change of clothes for everyone with plenty of towels. Bring a backpack child carrier instead of a jogging stroller. The trail is pretty narrow with ruts from mountain bikers.
Other Posts of Interest...
Walton Beach - Sauvie Island on July 8th, 2010
Cape Lookout State Park on November 3rd, 2007
Government Cove Peninsula on August 27th, 2012