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The Best Hikes in Crater Lake NP National Park

22 Triplog Reviews in the Crater Lake NP National Park
Most recent of 8 deeper Triplog Reviews
2.2 mi • 660 ft aeg
This is the only trail to lake level at Crater Lake. Most of the hikers are going down to a small marina to take a boat ride tour of the lake....1.5 hours. The ticket is $41 per adult. To make a long story short... my wife wanted to see if I could get back to the rim as it's about a 700 foot gain in one mile before we bought tickets so... we hiked it one late afternoon and again :lol: the next morning for the boat ride. The trail has easy footing and about a dozen switchbacks so I just went slow. I'd recommend this tour as they have an interpretive ranger along discuss facts and figures of Crater Lake. Deepest Lake in USA at 1946 feet.
3.85 mi • 396 ft aeg
Crater Lake is one of those iconic spots that just demands a visit in person. But like many such spots, it's just a little bit out of the way.

With a nice trip through Oregon planned well in advance, we were a little bit disheartened in the days prior because the forecast was abysmal. Crater Lake is obscured by clouds and fog about 50% of the time in winter, so it's certainly easy to show up there and not get to see anything at all.

With that in mind we considered skipping the long drive south, but ultimately decided to go for it. If nothing else we would go for an enjoyable snowshoe in the woods, which is still a nice way to spend a few hours even if there's no view of Crater Lake!

Despite the mountain being visibly socked in as we approached, and rain turning to snow as we ascended the 4000 feet that the road climbs-- into a "tunnel" of snow banks carved 15-feet high-- a little magic must have been on our side because when we arrived at the rim, we were greeted with stunning views of the deep blue Crater Lake along with a winter wonderland of snow and clouds overhead.

Snowshoes on, we headed out. I noticed that the broken trail followed the roadway rather than the GPS track of the hiking trail I had on my Route Scout. This made sense because the huge cornices are unstable and the hiking trail followed too closely to the edge of the rim for safe travel on snow. We followed the tracks of a few who had skied or snowshoed ahead of us until we reached Discovery Point, after which we were breaking our own trail. We didn't go much farther before turning back, enjoying the awe-inspiring vistas once again.

About 15 minutes before getting back to the truck, it started snowing fiercely. The wind was strong and visibility reduced to near zero. The lake was gone, exactly as we had thought it might be before we arrived. So we were lucky to have hit the perfect window of opportunity for a couple of hours!

Interesting note: NPS reports that about 80 skiers and 40 snowshoers attempt the 31 mile loop of the lake each winter. Most plan on 3 days, but few make it without an extra day or two due to inclement weather, avalanche danger, lack of marked route, etc. Sounds like an adventure to me!
2.2 mi • 642 ft aeg
The only official trail down to the lake was relatively mellow compared to my expectations considering what the rest of the crater wall face looks like, and is resultedly very well used. This is also where the "marina" (a boat and a dock) is located.

On a summertime Saturday afternoon, everyone was excited to get down to the water, despite snowy lake banks. Once at the bottom you can scurry to the east across rocks to isolated paradise, or head to the west as we did towards a popular jumping rock. A group of boulders extends about 30' offering an awesome plunge into the refreshing water. Water could have been up in the upper 50s when we were there, the late July snow still feeding the lake. Crystal clear, and deeeep!
1.4 mi • 419 ft aeg
When we entered the park from the north, we picked a short hike as we drove down, but then we stopped at the Watchman overlook and could see the Fire Lookout up above and our plans changed immediately. Despite warnings to wear sturdy shoes (no open toed), we did just fine in our Tevas (they were all I had anyway so I had no choice). The view down into the lake was obscured by a haze from wildfire smoke emanating from the west, but the tower is a nice one, a cabin built above a stone building, dating to 1932 according to the signs. Not occupied today, and roped off visitors.
0.5 mi • 0 ft aeg
Second to last day of my drive to Portland. Drove out to Crater Lake to watch the sunset. Only the road up to Rim Village was open and it still had a decent amount of ice & snow on it. Only saw two other groups the entire time I was at the lake- one group cross country skiing, and a group of 4 park employees that showed up after dark to go snow shoeing. I stayed after sunset and made an unsuccessful attempt at shooting star trails.
20 mi • 0 ft aeg
Oregon Tales 2012
Oregon Tales 2012

9 days
2882 miles
155 gallons of gasoline
558 digital images
1 relatively trouble-free drive
No dogs
Multiple family gatherings
Hannah's wedding in Medford Oregon

The Plan => Drive to Hannah's wedding in Medford OR traveling Phoenix to Los Angeles to Sacramento to Medford with return route via the Pacific Coast Highway.

I've always been a fastball hitter, but learned early that you will see a diet of change-ups and other off-speed stuff until you prove that you can hit those too. Guess we proved we could hit the off-speed stuff during our "Oregon Trail 2010" adventure (check out => [ photoset ] ), so "Oregon Tales 2012" seemed to consist of BP fastballs right down the middle...

DAY 1 - Tuesday 5/15
Ahwatukee AZ to Glendale AZ
72 miles return
0 hrs 45 min 1-way per Google Maps

Hiking and other outdoor adventuring seems to have taken a backseat due to Coyotes' season tickets (and their unexpected playoff run), some focused business assignments with China and Latin America, and finance managing with Hannah's upcoming wedding. With an impending road trip to Oregon blocking the calendar through Memorial Day, I get lucky with home date scheduling attending the Coyotes/Kings home opening set Sunday and Tuesday. With the Yotes butts thoroughly kicked at both games, I'm left wondering if I've witnessed my last NHL games in the Valley...

DAY 2 - Wednesday 5/16
Ahwatukee AZ to Sacramento CA
774 miles
12 hrs 39 min per Google Maps
Marriott Courtyard Sacramento Airport, 2101 River Plaza Drive, Sacramento CA, 95833

Pack the F-150 (including hiking boots) for an early morning start on the road to Sacramento via Los Angeles. We seem to be off to an auspicious start as I pull onto the I-10 greeted by an electronic sign indicating "CRASH AT SR143, I-10 CLOSED". I can see a sea of red lights ahead, so we veer off at Warner Road and double-back towards Maricopa and Gila Bend to by-pass the traffic jam. Traffic is light all the way to Los Angeles including the I-210 northern "by-pass". In fact, we don't encounter any LA traffic until we're out of town on the I-5 coming to a dead stop at Tejon Pass near the town of Gorman. With traffic only inching along, I pull off at Gorman School Road to partake in the local McDonalds. Once refreshed, I see no improvement in the I-5 traffic jam, but notice a few tractor trailer rigs hopping on the Peace Valley side road to Lebec. Following the rigs, we hop back onto the I-5 at Lebec sans traffic! We arrive at the Marriott Courtyard in Sacramento (check out => ... t-natomas/ ) 9-ish that night, just in time to catch the kitchen before it closed for the evening...

DAY 3 - Thursday 5/17
Sacramento CA to Medford OR
309 miles
5 hrs 14 min per Google Maps
Candlewood Suites, 3548 Heathrow Way, Medford OR, 97504

Fueled with Starbucks coffee, Lynn and I are back on the road travelling the I-5 towards Oregon. As we exit Redding, the Shasta-Trinity Mountains treat us to a steady rain. I slip the F-150 into 4WD on the fly and it becomes "weather, what weather?" as we maintain our steady cruise control speed. As we cross the California/Oregon border and descend into the Rogue Valley, blue skies return at a perfect 80degF temperature. Check into our hotel mid-afternoon (check out => ... cw-_-mfrbr ). We soon meet up with Dominic (Hannah's husband-to-be) and Hannah at the Candlewood Suites. They both flew in from South Bend IN earlier in the week making the final wedding preparations. Hannah and Lynn head out to do some last minute shopping while Dom and I go to sample the purported "Best Wings in Oregon" at Flapper's Wild West Wings (check out => ... gs-Medford ).

DAY 4 - Friday 5/18
Medford OR to various local destinations
75 miles
n/a per Google Maps
Candlewood Suites, 3548 Heathrow Way, Medford OR, 97504

Rehearsal day as multiple family relatives begin to arrive in Medford OR. Pick up my younger daughters, Sarah and Tobyn, at the Medford Airport after a connecting flight snow delay in Salt Lake City UT. My parents arrive having driven their rental car from Portland OR after a long flight from Toronto Canada. My cousin Drew and his family, Janice and Cassie, also arrive after a long drive from Vancouver Canada. Various friends of the bride and groom (including their undergrad NAU crowd) trickle in from various locations throughout the country. Bridal Shower that afternoon (I get to skip that), and rehearsal 5-ish at the Applegate River Lodge (check out => ). Pay some wedding bills, and pick-up some eats at Fred Meyer for the Rehearsal Dinner that evening hosted by Dom's sister Beverly. Everything went smoothly - calm before the wedding storm?

DAY 5 - Saturday 5/19
Medford OR to Applegate OR
75 miles
23 miles (1-way), 35 min per Google Maps
Applegate River Lodge, 15100 Highway 238, Applegate OR, 97530

Wedding day starts with guests arriving 11-ish at the Applegate River Lodge to help with the preparations in advance of the 3:30pm ceremony. With both Hannah and Dominic pursuing their chemistry doctorate degrees at Notre Dame University, there is definitely a "chemistry" theme to the wedding. Preparation, ceremony, reception, food, drink, and weather all pulled off without a bump in the road!

DAY 6 - Sunday 5/20
Medford OR to Crater Lake OR
152 miles
76 miles (1-way), 1 hr 45 min per Google Maps
Crater Lake Lodge, 565 Rim Drive, Crater Lake OR, 97625

Wedding day-after starts with a breakfast buffet before dropping off Sarah and Tobyn at Medford Airport for their flights home (both have to work on Monday). Our main objective today is some sight-seeing at Crater Lake (check out => ) and the Rogue River Gorge (check out => ... ridge.html ) with my parents. Once again that National Parks Pass comes in handy. I knew that Crater Lake usually has snow, but didn't realize it averages 44 feet of snowfall each year! I'll have to log the treks on HikeArizona when I get the chance ( [ Crater Lake National Park Area Trails ] and [ Natural Bridge Trail ] ).
After our all-day trek, the family gets together for a late dinner at the nearby Red Lobster.

DAY 7 - Monday 5/21
Medford OR to Crescent City CA to Bodega Bay CA
432 miles
8 hrs 26 min per Google Maps
Bodega Harbour Inn, 1345 Bodega Avenue, Bodega Bay CA, 94923

Early morning "good-byes" to my parents (catching plane to Toronto), the Babbini newlyweds (catching plane to South Bend), my cousins (driving back to Vancouver) as Lynn and I hit the road to explore the giant redwoods and the seashore along the Pacific Coast Highway. As we approach the Oregon/California border a text arrives from Hannah - the counter-offer they made on a house near South Bend was accepted (no honeymoon for the Babbini's - they're buying a house). First stop is Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park (check out => ) where once again that National Parks Pass comes in handy. The redwood groves and rain forest conditions make me feel like I'm on the set of a Jurassic Park sequel (actually having a toy dinosaur could have made for some interesting photo ops - note to self for next time). Best area by far IMO are the loop trails (Ellsworth Loop Trail, Leiffer Loop Trail, etc.) off Walker Road. Stout Grove along the Smith River comes in a close second. I'll have to log the mini-treks on HikeArizona when I get the chance ( [ Stout Grove ] ). Lunch in Crescent City CA, where I learned the harbour took one of the bigger blows from the March 2011 Japan tsunami (check out => ... o-sea.html ). We stop at Klamath Cove to check out the beach followed by some rainy mini-treks in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (check out => ). Surprised by the multiple elk encounters by the coastline - my brain just couldn't reconcile seeing elk and ocean in the same field of view! The highway headed inland following the Eel River Valley before we reconnected with Highway 1. Classic northern California views complete with fog and mist - our approach to the Village of Elk has been permanently etched into my brain. We arrive 9-ish into Bodega Bay greeted by multiple birds perched on the overhead wires. I check for Alfred Hitchcock lurking around the corner at our Bodega Harbour Inn basecamp (check out => and ... bodega-bay )...

DAY 8 - Tuesday 5/22
Bodega Bay CA to Golden Gate Bridge to Big Sur to Avila Beach CA
331 miles
7 hrs 16 min per Google Maps
Avila Lighthouse Suites, 550 Front St, Avila Beach CA, 93424

Lynn and I explore Bodega Harbour (a place where time seems to have stood still since the 1950's) before hitting the road to explore the Pacific Coast Highway - Muir Beach, Golden Gate Bridge, Big Sur coastline to Avila Beach. We encounter an unexpected gem when we stop at the Elephant Seal Rookery near San Simeon (check out => ). After sunset, check into our comfortable "digs" 9-ish at the Avila Lighthouse Suites (check out => ). We head over to Mr. Rick's (check out => ) to grab some eats and catch the end of the Coyotes/Kings game. Strike one (kitchen closed at 9pm), strike two (only IPA's on tap), strike three (OT goal by the Kings finished the Yotes season) - time for an evening stroll on the beach...
DAY 9 - Wednesday 5/23
Avila Beach CA to Joshua Tree NP to Ahwatukee AZ
623 miles
11 hrs 39 min per Google Maps
Avila Lighthouse Suites, 550 Front St, Avila Beach CA, 93424

Lynn and I explore the tidal pools along Avila before hitting the road. A stop at Joshua Tree NP (check out => ) before arriving home late that evening...

And that's our Oregon Tale 2012!
1.3 mi • 456 ft aeg
Snowshoe trip with my sister and parents to the nearby national park. We used to go snowshoeing along one of the rim trails every Christmas. Crater Lake is fed by snow melt and general precip, so high snow levels are important for the lake's ecosystem. Average snow depth is 139 inches. The Lake receives an average of 505 inches/year.
...and now I live in Arizona :lol:
5 mi • 1,243 ft aeg
Cloudy and dark when we started out. Even had a few raindrops at the beginning but things started to clear up as we got to the top. Great views all around. The fire lookout wasn't manned while we were there and was locked. But the views are still rewarding. A couple steep areas but all in all, a fairly gradual ascent. Of course, you're still at 8,000 ft so you'll get a good workout.

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