Our mission is to share the wonders of the natural world by publishing books from experts in the fields of gardening, horticulture, and natural history. Grow with us.

Find Toads at Todd Lake

by timber press on April 27, 2018

in Natural History

Hike Details

Length: 1.8 miles out and back
Hike time + explore: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy—flat terrain and no hand-holding spots
Season: Summer through early fall
Get there: Just past Mt. Bachelor on Cascade Lakes Highway, look for the wellsigned turn, go half a mile to a parking lot and bathroom station at Todd Lake.
Google Maps: bit.ly/TimberToddLake
Restrooms: A short walk up from the parking lot at the campground
Fee: $5 day-use Recreation Pass available on site or Northwest Forest Pass
Treat yourself: The “Baby Bird” menu at Sparrow Bakery 23 miles east in Bend delights with special sugar dough balls called chouquettes.

Deschutes National Forest, Bend-Fort
Rock Ranger District
(541) 383-5300
Twitter @DesNatlForest
Facebook @deschutesnationalforest

Mt. Bachelor looms behind a bridge at Todd Lake.

Your Adventure

Adventurers, log bridges and picnic tables at the beginning and end make for great power-up stops and three walk-in campsites are great for a beginner’s backpacking trip. Formerly Lost Lake, this 45-acre lake was renamed Todd Lake in 1922 for early Oregon settler Uncle John Y. Todd. You’ll come to a fork, and go left for a clockwise loop. Around the lake, it can be a bit squishy on the marshy part of the trail, so make sure you’ve got decent shoes on. Get ready to look for toads at Toad Beach and make your way back to where you came.

Todd Lake Scavenger Hunt

Subalpine fir
Subalpine means below the treeline on mountains, which is what distinguishes this tree from an alpine fir. On your way around the lake, see if you can find some of these younger evergreen trees standing alone. The needles turn upward a bit. The bark can be a bit smoother than the bark of other firs when the tree is younger. Give it a feel. How do you think the bark could be used?

A young subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa).

Broken Top and Mt. Bachelor
To the north, at the top of the lake, is Broken Top (9,177 feet), an extinct volcano. A volcano is considered to be extinct if it hasn’t erupted in 10,000 years and is not expected to again. Mt. Bachelor (9,068 feet) is a dormant volcano, one that hasn’t erupted in 10,000 years but is expected to again. Do you notice a difference between the two? What do you think happened to Broken Top?

Broken Top juts out beyond Todd Lake.

Western toad
Do you know the difference between a frog and a toad? They’re both amphibians, but look at their skin. Frogs usually have moist slimy skin, while toads have dry bumpy skin. The threatened western toad has bumps on its skin and its hind legs. Can you find one? They are active almost all year and then hibernate in the winter, coming out after the snow melts.

A western toad (Anaxyrus boreas) takes a swim.

Brook trout
Look for this trout as you cross the small streams. Because of how high Todd Lake is, the U.S. Forest Service air-stocks them by using helicopters. Brook trout like the cold water. If you’re game and have a pole, they are catchable.

Brook trout (Salvenius fontinalus).

Mountain hemlock
Tsuga is the Japanese word for hemlock. Look for the scruffy needles of the evergreen mountain hemlock as you enter the forest ending this adventure. Can you see its droopy top? These trees only grow at places above 4,000 feet in elevation and grow slowly, some reaching 800 years of age.

Mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana).


Wendy Gorton holds a master’s degree in learning technologies and is a former classroom teacher. She worked as a National Geographic Fellow in Australia researching Tasmanian devils, a PolarTREC teacher researcher in archaeology in Alaska, an Earthwatch teacher fellow in the Bahamas and New Orleans, and a GoNorth! teacher explorer studying climate change via dogsled in Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Today, she is a global education consultant who has traveled to more than fifty countries to design programs, build communities, and train other educators to do the same.


Click image to look inside this book:


Previous post:

Next post: