Run Oregon loves running – that’s no surprise. But we also love the Pacific Northwest and all that it has to offer. Running is a part of us, but it does not fully define us. In our new “Make a Day of It” feature, we aim to showcase some great local non-running events and highlight where to run and how to make the most of your experience! We recently checked out The Suttle Lodge, a spot ripe for a for a runcation, in the Deschutes National Forest near Sisters.
First the Running:
Central Oregon may have some of the best trail running in the State, if not the entire West Coast. It feels like wherever you are in the High Desert area, there are a number of trails to explore. The Suttle Lodge is no different, considering it’s proximity (14 miles) from Sisters and its amazing trail system. You’re also not too far from the trailhead (currently temporarily closed I believe however) to McKenzie River National Recreational Trail or even the PCT. Seriously, the lodge may in fact be the perfect basecamp for a Central Oregon trail extravaganza.
If you aren’t wanting to venture too far from the lodge itself, you are also in luck as there are a few trails that start right at the lodge itself.
- The Suttle Lake Loop Trail (Strava) is a really flat ~5k trail that navigates around the lodge’s namesake body of water.
- The Suttle Tie Trail (Strava) is about 5 miles and can connect runners with the south side of Black Butte and opens up even more miles to explore – including the Black Butte trails and, from there, even a connector on the Sisters Tie Trail which can take you all the way into the city of Sisters.
- The Lake Creek Trail (Strava) is just over 4 miles and will take runners near Camp Sherman and the northern Black Butte area and also has a variety of offshoot trails within the Metolius Preserve area.
During our excursion, I actually ran all of these locations, which was quite epic. The trail upkeep was great and it was amazing having dozens and dozens of miles of trails, of all distances, right from the lodge. This meant no wasted time driving to a trailhead (many of which have been closed due to COVID-19) – leaving more time for hitting the backcountry and runsploring!
There are a couple options for staying at the Suttle Lodge. The lodge building itself has 11 rooms with a few different bed configurations (sleeping 2, 4, and 6 people). There are fireplaces, desks, and electric kettles (which you can use to pour over local Backporch Coffee, as well as bathroom amenities from Portland-based Maak Lab and Bluetooth audio capabilities (though remember to download music or podcasts you want to listen to, as WiFi can be a little spotty and slow). Judging from the photo gallery of the lodge rooms, they are pretty simplistic and have a rustic coziness to them.
In addition to the lodge, there are also 16 secluded cabin-style options – in the form of “rustic” and “deluxe”. The rustic cabins can sleep up to six people, but the amenities are pretty limited. There are two rooms – one with a queen bed and the other with a twin bunk. There is a full futon in front common room. You will have to bring your own bedding (or pay $20 extra per bed) and there is no plumbing – meaning you will have to use the communal boathouse nearby for toilet, sink, and shower. It may not seem like much, but it would be a great value option to get away with a group of friends (post-quarantine) for a little running adventure.
We were able to stay in one of the lodge’s deluxe cabins. This option sleeps up to 8 with three queen beds, two day beds, a kitchen area and dining nook, in addition to the same nice amenities listed above. It has a Traeger grill, which saved us some money by allowing us to bring some food and have some delicious meals prepared ourselves. It is absolutely rustic in appearance, though clearly updated and well-maintained at the same time – a modern take on the cabin experience. All lodging is pet-friendly, which is the first time I have cared about this as we have a new little buddy to bring along with us since the virus entered our lives.
I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better location. After being cooped up inside our home as a family unit for the past few months – there were times that we all sort of lost ourselves in different ways. From having increased personal screen time (both adults and kids) to watching increased amounts of TV, we sort of plugged-in and tuned-out some days. I’m not proud of it, but it happened. The simplicity of the cabin, which did not have a TV and sporadic WiFi forced us a little more together and we played card and board games, walked around the lake, and reconnected with nature in an environment that felt “normal” again – though with the ability to continue some distance. Thus, it was a location I would recommend both to families as the state starts to reopen, as well as to those who want to get away and run with a renewed sense of connection with the land around us.
COVID-19 update as of 5.20.19: The Lodge is only open for check-in and check-out at the front desk.
While Sisters has some cool spots to eat and drink, there are some food options on-site for all meals of the day, as well as beer, wine, and cocktails in the bar. Though limited, the selected choices sounded quite nice. The “Fish and Chips as a Sandwich” – kettle chip crusted trout, lettuce, pickles, tartar sauce, and lemon on a toasted bun was very tasty, and my wife raved about their Salmon Chowder in a Sourdough bread bowl. It was much better than what you would anticipate at a traditional lodge. We ended up having one of meals there, which were very easy to manage as they did their orders from their large back porch, as well as grabbed some beers and cocktails as we watched the sun set over the lake. Central Oregon is home to craft beer, so I’d personally recommend doing what we did and getting some to-go beer and food from Three Creeks in Sisters, or any number of other breweries who are open in Bend.
COVID-19 update as of 5.20.19: Full Service dining menu for takeaway only. Ordering hours 9am-7pm (-8pm on weekends).
Aside from the one meal and drinks, we spent much of our food refueling within our cabin. We used the induction burner, small convection oven, sink and small fridge (sans freezer) along with the provided private Traeger to grill up some meat. It just smelled, tasted, and felt like camping with all the benefits of basic amenities and without the negativity of sleeping terribly on the ground. There was an ample supply of cookware, flatware and dishware for our cooking needs.
Suttle Lodge is right in the Deschutes National Forest. That means there is plenty to do in the outdoors, something we don’t often get enough of. There are a variety of places to hike or bike (see above). There are lakes to fish in and even rent a boat for enjoying time on the water. The Suttle Lodge Boathouse has boats for rent, as well as kayaks and SUP’s to enjoy some fresh air and water.
COVID-19 update as of 5.20.19: The Boathouse is currently not open for the time being. Make sure you plan ahead to determine what is open, closed, and limited within National and State Forests as a result of the pandemic.
The lodge is also typically home to a variety of events throughout the year – from local and regional art shows to nationally-renowned chefs coming in and providing world class faire. Obviously 2020 has thrown a little bit of a wrench into the plans, but their Happenings page should become much more active as things start to ease back into normalcy.
As the State starts to open up and Summer nears, there are a lot of individuals and families who could use some safe “socially distanced”time out of their houses. The Suttle Lodge is a perfect opportunity for this with it’s small capacity an tons of outdoor area for exploration. I am not sure there is a better place right now that lets you get away without having to travel forever, and has everything you safely need to escape. If you are still wanting to wait a bit longer before venturing out too far, consider The Suttle Lodge as a future destination to reward yourself with when things are in the clear or when you run your next race in the area
Suttle Lodge Details:
Address: 13300 US Highway 20 Sisters, OR 97759
Many thanks to the The Suttle Lodge for allowing us to check out their property for a discount! Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.