LOST LAKE — A jolt of energy from new ownership is bringing some upgrades to Mount Hood's classic resort at Lost Lake.
After 29 years of ownership, Roy and Barbara Hillmick winnowed through many would-be buyers and settled on Derek DeBorde and Jason Taylor, of Hood River. Last year's purchase price was $1.2 million.
With its postcard views of Mount Hood's northwest face, Lost Lake has long been a camping magnet after the snow melts each spring.
More than 100 years ago, one visitor described a Lost Lake trip in a 1906 diary entry: “Old Bill did not seem to enjoy the greeting the yellow jackets gave him. When he commenced bucking, Carrie jumped off and landed on some logs. She said it did not hurt, but it shook her up considerably.”
These days, most visitors revel in the bucolic scene and never run into the yellow jackets.
From the placid waters of the lake, Mount Hood's Sandy Glacier looks close enough to reach out and touch. According to the new owners, a boat with a motor has never been on the 240-acre lake, where only rowboats and paddle boats are allowed.
Generations of visitors from Hood River and Portland have made the sojourn a family tradition. They reserve lodge rooms or cabins, or stake a claim on one of 127 campsites. Campers often need to arrive by Wednesday to guarantee a summer weekend in F Loop, where lakefront sites are among the most popular campsites in the Mount Hood National Forest.
Lost Lake is 25 miles southwest of Hood River, deep inside the forest and just across the ridge that holds Portland's Bull Run drinking water.
Taylor, 38, spends much of his working time at the resort, though he hired an on-site manager last year. A graduate of Hood River High School with a background as a Mount Hood ski racer, Taylor began his working career in a Chicago real estate investment firm.
“I've been coming up here to camp since I was born,” he said. “Our family use of the resort goes back to my great-great-grandmother.”
Purchasing the resort, he said, was never on his radar until he spotted a sale announcement while browsing the Internet. He decided it was time to move home and formed a business partnership with a high school friend.
“We quickly learned how to play by Forest Service rules,” said Taylor, noting that land where the resort lies is leased from the U.S. government. “The process for dealing with historical structures is not easy, but that's OK because it forces us to create a great product.”
First order of business was to renovate seven cabins. One was so badly deteriorated that the Forest Service allowed it to be dismantled and replaced. The others weren't much better, but the exteriors had to be retained while the insides were modernized. Each will be decorated with a history theme, among them logging, ski racing and local family use of Lost Lake.
Cabins have no plumbing, so guests venture outside to toilet stations, the shower house and spigots. Bathrooms are available in the six lodge rooms above the store, two of which serve visitors with special needs.
Despite the differences in plumbing, “cabins are more popular than our lodge rooms,” Taylor said. “It may have something to do with guests wanting a change of scene. We don't have television, and you need to drive down the road to get cellphone service. This is a place to get away.”
The Forest Service campground, which the resort operates as a concessionaire, is across the marina from the resort. When the fish are biting and the sun is out, the resort's 78 rental boats may not be enough to meet demand.
Resort visitors can bring their own boats, as long as they don't have motors. Another popular activity is walking the 3.5-mile lakeshore trail and laying claim to a secluded picnic spot.
Just watch out for the logs, should the yellow jackets get rambunctious.