Up to an hour’s drive, up either Highway 138 or Little River Road, lies an oasis filled with two emerald lakes, high mountain peaks and wide open meadows. Many local residents flock here, but they don’t talk about it.

There are two trailheads into Twin Lakes, and they both offer stunning views. Most people take Highway 138 up the North Umpqua. An easy way to remember when to make the turn is to look for the gravel road just yards after the highway crosses the river.

twin lakes map
Peter Bordenave / The Mainstream

Another way to access the lakes is from an exit off of Little River Road. Look for the NF 530 road.

Expect a 20-minute drive up from Highway 138 on a mostly well-kept road or approximately 15 minutes from the turn off of Little River Road to the trailheads for Twin Lakes. From the Highway 138 trailhead, it is a one and quarter mile hike. Often, many cars are parked at the trailhead on the weekends. For the most part, this way in is a pretty easy hike with very little elevation change in terrain with stunning views of the cascade mountain range.

Expect an intersection one mile in. At this intersection, the hiker is welcomed with a stunning view of multiple meadows filled with flowers that endure the summer temperatures. From there, there are two trails: with the trail to the lookout, you can hike up to the peaks and get to the Little River Road trailhead.

Using the Little River Road access trail to the peaks (at this intersection), the walk would begin going uphill for around the first half mile. Nearly a mile up, hikers can walk a short distance off the main trail to a peak that overlooks the two lakes.

Persons who use this trailhead can be faced with obstacles just getting to the trailhead by car. Early in the hiking season, there may be too much snow on the road to pass. Other obstacles people have faced are fallen trees crossing the road.

The other trail at this intersection (look for the sign), leads down to the lakes and is mostly level with several downgrades. At a later intersection off of this lake trail, an additional trail that is used mostly by hunters and experienced hikers leads down to Deception Creek.

Nearing the camp area is a walking bridge over a natural marsh which has been damaged recently due to a fallen tree that nearly wiped out a cabin near it in the campground.

On the eastern lake, where most people aim to camp, are six camping spots. Some are very primitive.  two open-faced cabins are located around the two lakes, one at the east lake and another at the west lake.

People who have gone there for many years remember the dugout canoe that was dug that one could paddle around the east lake. It can still be found, and after all of these years it still floats. Also on the east lake is a floating barge made up of local materials that many people use to float out into the lake and dive off of.

The area has many foot bridges that cross the natural springs in the area that would otherwise flow over the trails that wind around and between the two lakes. Near the east lake, you can collect water from a natural spring for cooking or the hike out. You should probably sterilize the water even though warnings are not posted to do so.