After Christmas my parents came to Bend for a visit. With all the snow and freezing cold temperatures, we needed something to do other than stay at home with two stir-crazy little kids and a 5-month-old baby who doesn't believe in sleeping. When my husband suggested staying a couple of nights at Lake Creek Lodge, the idea of packing everyone up and heading to a tiny cabin with no wifi sounded a little daunting to me...but then again, so did entertaining my parents for a whole week at home. We loaded everyone up on a Wednesday and drove the scenic 40 minutes or so towards the cabins near the Metolius River in Camp Sherman. We would have stopped for lunch in Sisters but the sleeping baby naturally took precedence. Once we'd arrived at Camp Sherman, we checked into our little cabin. My 5-year-old daughter immediately began exploring every room and exclaiming things like, "I love cabins!" and "Oh, I feel so at home!". She was right; it was homey and cozy. Cabin #8 was decorated with Christmas lights for the holidays and has three rooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a front room with a wood fireplace. It fit the four adults and three kids perfectly (we brought our own bassinet). They even had a nice wooden rocking chair for me to feed the baby at night. Also, each day that you stay you get a free bundle of firewood to burn (much to the delight of my pyromaniac husband). We all loved having a warm fire going the whole time. We ate at the Lake Creek Lodge restaurant for breakfast and dinner every day and had lunch while out and about. The servers were so nice and accommodating. They made us feel like VIPs (even with our absurdly noisy children). Oh, and kids under 4 eat free with the purchase of an entree! Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at scheduled times with a set menu for dinner, which makes it feel more like a family meal you would have at home, only you don't have to do the cooking or the dishes! Every meal was incredibly delicious, but my favorite menu item was the homemade cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting. Hello! It was huge. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be this. I have no regrets. There is an awesome common room next to the restaurant with ping-pong, foosball and pool tables. It was so nice to be able to have some adult conversation while the kids played in the room next to us. And much to my dad's relief, there was a TV in the lobby where he was able to check the score of the college football game every now and then. The lobby had a beautiful Christmas tree and a warm fire going. We had fun looking at all the old vintage photographs and guest books. In the morning, we drove the short 20 minutes to Hoodoo ski resort. Hoodoo is a really family friendly place with a laid-back atmosphere. They have something for all ages and for us that was the $5 perfectly groomed sled hill. They even have child-care! I can't wait to take advantage of that. My kids were in heaven. After a great time at Hoodoo, we had so much fun back at Camp Sherman just hanging out in the cabin without wifi! We played games and talked by the fire and just laughed. I haven't felt so relaxed in ages. I'm hoping we can come back in the summer time, too. There is an outdoor playground that would have been fun for the kids if it were warmer. Even walking around in the wintertime, the tall trees and creek running through the cabins make for a magical ambiance. All in all, it was a relaxing and therapeutic two days and I'm sincerely hoping Lake Creek Lodge will become a family tradition for us.
Here in Central Oregon, we live in a frozen playground in the wintertime, and the scenic beauty of the region while the weather is frosty provides an ideal backdrop for the pursuit of romance. This winter, I ditched the quintessential date-night standard of dinner and a movie for something more adventurous––a snowshoeing expedition along the Metolius River followed by dinner at Lake Creek Lodge. Not all couples are up for adventuring in snow-smothered forests, but snowshoeing is an incredible way to enjoy beautiful winter scenery. And what could be more romantic than trekking through the woods while a gentle snow falls around you, snuggling with your honey next to an ice-capped river? My date and I started our walk at the Camp Sherman Store, just up the road from Lake Creek Lodge. After exploring the eclectic wares of the store, we strapped on our snowshoes and embarked down a marked trail along the Metolius River. The day was clear and sunny, the trail flat and easy. Tree boughs sat heavy with snow, occasionally casting arctic white confetti in the air around us. We followed the winding river, watching the steam rise off its surface, enjoying the fresh air and good conversation. Snowshoeing summons you to slow down and tune in to nature’s gentle harmony, and the peaceful quiet of the woods amplified the picturesque setting we found ourselves in. Aside from a solitary duck floating down the river beside us, we had the area to ourselves. We hiked around for about two hours before fatigue and the cold got the best of us. Eagerly anticipating our dinner (Snowshoeing works up an appetite!), we swapped our snowshoes for snow boots and drove the short distance back to Lake Creek Lodge. The Restaurant at Lake Creek is open year round for brunch and dinner. Dinner is served promptly at 6 p.m., requires reservations and consists of a pre-set menu. We arrived at the lodge 30 minutes before dinner service, so we killed time by exploring the grounds. The perfect combination of rustic charm and cozy comfort, the lodge is guaranteed to inspire warm feelings and get the heartstrings stirring. A roaring fire in the sitting room enhances choice cuddling real estate while the game room at the back of the lodge provides opportunities for playful (or ruthless) competition. My date and I immediately gravitated to the pool table, racking and rolling until dinnertime. The restaurant offers a homey and intimate dining experience, with breathtaking views of sunsets dipping over snow-capped mountains––an ideal place to enjoy a romantic meal with your sweetie. Our three-course meal consisted of cranberry and pear salad, filet mignon with a caramelized onion demi-glace, sautéed broccoli, roasted mashed potatoes and a walnut apple crumble for dessert. I’m not going to lie, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Ravenous, we devoured our salads before the other diners had even unfolded their napkins and eagerly awaited our entrées. The filet mignon was epic, melting in our mouths like the snow from our boots next to the crepitating fire. As my date put it, “It’s like eating a meaty cloud.” The dessert was warm and delicious, striking a perfect balance between sweet and tart, and the perfect conclusion to our meal. At day’s end, we found ourselves thoroughly wore out and exquisitely content. There’s no shortage of potential date activities in Central Oregon, even in the wintertime. Treat your sugar muffin to a romantic evening snowshoeing and dining in the mountains; the scenic beauty will create wonderful memories, and the cold air will result in some extra snuggles. Additional Info: Snowshoe rentals are available at Eurosports in Sisters for $12 a day. To make reservations at Lake Creek Lodge or to preview the menu, visit their website at lakecreeklodge.com. Lake Creek Lodge 13375 S.W. Forest Service Road #1419, Camp Sherman 800-797-6331
Exploring the Metolius Basin from Lake Creek Lodge As a longtime Central Oregon resident and horse enthusiast, I’ve done some fabulous riding in the Metolius Basin. I’ve camped with my horse many times at Sheep Springs Horse Camp, about 8 miles from Camp Sherman. Horse camping is great fun, but after a couple of days, you sure do miss having a hot shower. So, when I learned that the Camp Sherman resort Lake Creek Lodge had added equestrian facilities, I had to check it out. The idea of riding my horse all day and then returning to a nice resort, staying in a charming cabin, taking hot showers, sleeping in a real bed, and enjoying chef-prepared meals while my horse relaxed nearby in a sturdy corral—well, that was positively tantalizing! I called my friend, Debbie, and we made a reservation. We arrived at the Lodge the morning of our reservation, parked our trailers next to the horse corrals and saddled up. The nearby trail network travels beneath majestic ponderosa pines to the Metolius River, which gushes out of huge springs about a mile upstream from the trail’s river crossing. The trails also connect with the Metolius-Windigo Trail, a 150-mile trail that passes just 0.6 mile from the Lodge. All are open to horses, and you can also ride cross-country. When you stay at Lake Creek Lodge, the riding is practically unlimited. After a beautiful ride, we came back to the Lodge and settled our horses in their sturdy steel pipe corrals and checked ourselves into our cabin. In addition to its cabins and restaurant, the Lodge offers a swimming pool, tennis courts, bicycles, a stocked trout pond, a big-screen TV, and a game room with a pool table, ping-pong, and foosball. Plus, the Metolius River offers world-class fly-fishing nearby. If you stay at Lake Creek Lodge with non-riding family members, they’ll be having so much fun that they’ll hardly notice you’ve gone riding. Our cabin, situated on the bank of meandering Lake Creek, had a fun 1940s-vintage feeling despite its modern conveniences. It featured a knotty pine kitchen (complete with a microwave, coffee maker, dishes, and silverware), an inviting living room, two bedrooms with a shared bathroom, a screened sleeping porch, a gas barbecue, and a deck where we could sit and watch the creek flow by. At the appointed hour for dinner, we headed to the Lodge restaurant. In summer, guests may enjoy dinner on the patio, but since we were there on a chilly spring day, we opted to eat in the dining room. Our first course was a tasty salad of greens, blueberries, strawberries, and feta, drizzled with a raspberry vinaigrette. Next came tender parmesan chicken on a bed of house-made fettuccine. And for dessert, a pear poached in red wine. The food was delicious, and the portions were large. Nobody goes home hungry after a dinner at Lake Creek Lodge! When we returned to our cabin, we relaxed for a while before being lulled to sleep by the murmuring of the creek and the rustling of the pines. The next morning, we enjoyed the Lodge’s brunch menu, which features everything from eggs Benedict to sandwiches. I couldn’t stop exclaiming as I enjoyed my hash browns: crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, they were the best hash browns I’ve ever eaten. After breakfast, we went out for another ride. This time our friend Laurie, who lives nearby, joined us. We traveled a 5-mile loop that took us across the Metolius River and along its bank, past a neat row of summer homes, to the Camp Sherman Store. The store, a local landmark, has been in existence for nearly 100 years. Where else can you enjoy a gourmet sandwich, beer, or ice cream, and pick up a souvenir t-shirt while you’re on a horseback ride? We left the store, crossed the river on the road bridge, skirted around the north side of the tiny community of Camp Sherman, then linked up with the Metolius-Windigo Trail for the return leg of our loop. We arrived at the Lake Creek Lodge corrals and began unsaddling the horses and stowing our gear for the trip home. Debbie walked around the corner of her trailer, bridle in hand, and said wistfully, “We should stay a few more days. I’m not ready to go home yet!” Not to worry, Debbie. We’ll be back! Lake Creek Lodge cabins range from $180 to $385 per night, double occupancy, and horse corrals are $40 per horse. Minimum 2-night stay on weekends, and 3-night stay during the summer season. For reservations call 1-800-797-6331.