You don’t have to drive far to experience a caldera-filled lake, and unlike its famous sibling to the south, Paulina Lake has an easier-to-access shoreline, and you can bring your own boat.
On scorching Central Oregon days, Paulina Lake offers nearly frigid waters to swim, kayak or fish in and, since the lake sits in an active volcano, there are even some hot springs to soothe away the day. Take the Paulina Lake Loop Trail north a couple miles from Little Crater Day Use area to reach them, or do what I do and kayak across the lake to the northeast corner and relax in the more-warm-than-hot springs.
If fishing is more your style, motorized boats are allowed on the lake but must stay under 10 mph. With a maximum depth of 250 feet, the lake is great for brown and rainbow trout as well as kokanee and is regularly stocked.
Getting there: From Bend, drive south on U.S. Highway 97 for 23 miles then turn left on Paulina-East Lake Road/Road 21 for 14 miles to arrive at the lake. Travel an additional 2 miles to reach Little Crater Campground/Day Use Area.
Paulina Lake is within the Newberry Volcanic National Monument and is subject to a $5 day-use permit. Visitors can also use a Northwest Forest Pass or Interagency Annual Pass.