Nothing beats a plunge into a refreshing lake after a hot, challenging mountain bike ride. Find both on these five lake rides from around the Inland Northwest.

  1. Waldo Lake, Central Oregon: Sitting in the local brew pub after a long day’s ride on one of Oakridge, Oregon’s most acclaimed trails, a group of other riders we met on the trail that day joined us for beers. We slurped cervezasand compared notes for the following day’s objectives. They couldn’t stop heaping praise on the nearby Waldo Lake loop trail, a 20-ish mile semi-technical and highly scenic IMBA Epic that encircles this gorgeous Cascade mountain lake. “Waldo Lake is my religion,” said one of our new trail friends. The next day we found out what she meant. 
  • Upper Priest Lake, North Idaho: There are several fun, relatively easy rides around the Upper Priest area, and the Trapper Creek/Upper Priest Lake Trail is one of the most flowy, easy trails up there. This 8-mile out-and-back ride is mostly downhill from the trailhead to the lake. Now find a stretch of vacant beach and jump in!
  • Christina Lake, BC: If it wasn’t for the exposure in a few places along this 8-mile roundtrip singletrack trail along the south bank of Christina Lake just north of the border from Kettle Falls, it would be an excellent beginner mountain bike trail. After the steep climb/push at the start of the trail, it becomes significantly more mellow. Be sure to scramble down to the water for a dip before turning around.
  • Bead Lake, Northeast Washington: A 17-mile mix of singletrack and gravel road north of Newport, the Bead Lake Loop starts off from the trailhead with a sporty Forest Service road climb before plunging down singletrack to the Caribbean-blue waters of Bead Lake. Enjoy the lake-side cross-country riding through the pines and keep your eyes on the trail so you and your bike don’t end up in the drink.
  • Fishtrap Lake, Eastern Washington: This long and narrow lake in the Channeled Scablands southeast of Spokane is an awesome two-track desert ride for beginners and even kids, as long as it’s not scorching hot out. And with new singletrack sections added by WTA over the past few years, more experienced riders can get a great workout connecting loop, after loop, after loop. Known more for rattlesnakes than as a swimming destination, you can ride down to the lake at the far end of the trail system, and dock swimming is possible at the nearby Fishtrap Lake Resort.