Big Lake is 225 acres in size and is situated on the historic Santiam Wagon Road. It was the first resting place for early travelers heading west. A youth camp operates under special use permit on the east side of the lake. Volcanic peaks and cinder cones visible from the lake include Mt. Washington, Sand Mountain, Hoodoo Butte, Hayrick Butte and Three Fingered Jack.
Big Lake is popular for motor boating and water skiing, as well as camping, picnicking, fishing and swimming. Access to wilderness trailheads is located nearby. The nearby Santiam Pass Dispersed Motorized Recreation Area is open to Off-Highway Vehicles. A boat launch is located in the Big Lake Day Use Area (fee required). Two campgrounds are situated on the lake.
4 miles south of Santiam Pass (Highway 20), on Big Lake Road (Forest Road 2690). From McKenzie Bridge, travel east on Highway 126 for 29.5 miles to Big Lake Road (Forest Road 2690). Follow Big Lake Road for 3 miles to Big Lake.