A lake for just being a body of water is the most versatile, liveliest place around. Certainly more than H2O is involved with hints of glee, peace, and excitement, or why else would we migrate there every summer?

The many elements that create a lake casts a variety show of personalities and behaviors. One patron may be a do-gooder in a custom homemade wooden kayak while 20 feet away on the shore may sit two scantily camouflaged individuals savoring inexpensive beer. Then a little ways above them you have your vigilant birder who voices taxonomy. All across from a family barbecue consisting of several borderline feral children. And the glorious lake provides the setting for it all.

Laying out our map of the Portland area, we can pinpoint a lake to go to. While not drifting too far, we can discern a lake following Highway 8, past Forest Grove, called Henry Hagg Lake. A suitably sized, undeveloped, and accessible lake within 40 miles.

The first idea of a lake is how to enjoy the water. Be it on a boat, swimming, paddle boarding or fishing, Hagg delivers. With two boat ramps and 1,153 acres of surface water, the lake will float you along in any which way, and if you don’t have a watercraft, a local business caters to such a loss and provides one for rent.

A splashing Hail Mary plunge may be done in numberless spots around the lake. Plus Washington County asserts that they test the water quality once a week in three locations, and tote a butterfly stroke safe water—in case you ever wanted to try such a thing.

The fishin’ is favorable. As a matter of fact, the fishing is record setting with the Oregon smallmouth bass record being reeled in from Hagg at 8 pounds. Along with trout being stocked twice a year, the lake shacks up with a healthy number of fish including, as local vernacular suggests, “Frakenfish,” which are two foot steelhead (compliments of the fish hatcheries).

The masterwork which ties everything together is the 13 mile trail that encompasses Hagg Lake. Now the aquatic activities are a piece of a worthier whole because mountain biking, hiking, and running are accompanied by swimming. Heat up then cool down—makes perfect sense. The trail attracts the attention of mountain bikers though the paved road, that as well loops the lake, is available for road biking. Additionally, disc golf has nudged in there with a 18-hole course on the western shore.

The Hagg Lake Trail even has the zeal to support sporting events such as the Hagg Lake Mud Run, which races a 25k and 50k run in the Oregon Trail Series. The event also earns attention in Runner’s World.

In the end, a lake is a destination that represents many things. What you decide to add to that medley is entirely up to you, and Henry Hagg, the once renowned dairy farmer, has a lake named after him for you to do so.