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Crater Lake Discovery and Rim Trail

Updated: Dec 28, 2023


View from Crater Lake National Park Discovery and Rim Trail

Crater Lake is a stunning place. The deep blue reflective lake surrounded by sharp peaks is so beautiful it almost doesn't look real. But it is real. And by trekking along the Crater Lake Discovery and Rim Trail, you are sure to see these surreal piece of nature from all its beautiful angles.


 

Trail Info

Crater Lake Discovery and Rim Trail Information Table

Know before you go

  • Park conditions and accessibility vary by season. Some or all of the Rim road may be closed depending on conditions. (The road is closed in winter). Check the NPS page for the latest updates.

  • This route can be as short or as long as you like. The trail follows the walking path and rim trail along the West Rim of the lake, which extends from Rim Village on the south portion of the lake to Merriam Point on the north portion. (Note there is no walking path on the eastern rim).


Other Trails Nearby

  • Garfield Peak is a short hike from Rim Village that will take you to a great vantage point from the southern side of the lake.

  • The Watchman is a short side trail from the Rim Trail that will also provide a bird's eye perspective of the Lake.


 

The Trail


View from Crater Lake National Park Discovery and Rim Trail

My jaunt began on the south side of the lake at Rim Village. You don't need to walk far to get a great view of the lake and Wizard's Island. Despite the snow elsewhere, the southern facing side of Wizard's Island was bare. That's because this side is far more exposed to the sun during these spring months.


View from Crater Lake National Park Discovery and Rim Trail

My original plan had been to summit Garfield Peak (pictured above) via a trail that leaves from Rim Village. Unfortunately, I was forced to turn around because of a trail closure. Despite it being the end of May, a thick layer of ice was still present on a narrow pass next to a sharp dropoff. If I had microspikes, it probably would have been doable, but I decided I didn't want to die today.


View from Crater Lake National Park Discovery and Rim Trail

Still, my short detour up the Garfield Peak trail did give me a nice view of the landscape beyond Crater Lake. That prominent peak in the distance is Mount McLoughlin and I could just barely see Mount Shasta on a clear day like this.


View from Crater Lake National Park Discovery and Rim Trail

While Wizard Island will probably steal most of your attention, be sure to look towards the East Rim. I found the reflection of the rim's ridges so captivating. That peak in the center is Mount Scott with an elevation of 8,649 feet (2,636 m).


View from Crater Lake National Park Discovery and Rim Trail

The trail itself is fairly tame. It is mostly dirt with a little bit of rock which may be snow covered depending on the time of year. There greatest elevation gain will be near Watchman Peak (which you can summit with an optional side trail). The trail never gets too close to the edge of the rim either, so no steep dropoffs to worry about.


View from Crater Lake National Park Discovery and Rim Trail

Unless of course you want get close to the edge. There were a few sections like this that provided some cool photo ops.


View from Crater Lake National Park Discovery and Rim Trail

Gotta do it for the gram.


View from Crater Lake National Park Discovery and Rim Trail

For me though, the best section of this entire trail was Merriam Point, located on the northwestern side of the rim. This is also functionally the end of the Rim Trail, because it leaves the beauty of the lake and connects to the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. If you hiked all the way here from Rim Village, it's time for that return trek. And if you opted for a driving sightseeing day, hop back and your car and head to that next lookout to soak in this masterpiece more.



 


SS Reflections

To this day, I still think Crater Lake and that snowcapped Wizard Island are some of the prettiest sights I've ever seen. The perfectly clear reflection of the lake and the other mountains in the distance just added to its unreal beauty. And unlike many National Park adventures where I have a "go go go" mentality, trying to hit every possible trail in my time frame, this was more leisurely. I soaked this place in from every conceivable angle, thinking to myself, how is this real?




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DISCLAIMER: This website is for entertainment purposes only. The web designer and contributors are not liable for any injuries, accidents, or damages resulting from the use of information provided. Trail data, including trail statistics such as mileage and difficulty ratings, are provided as estimates based on the best available data at the time of publication and may not be 100% accurate. Conditions on trails can change; users should verify information with local authorities or  other reliable sources before embarking on any hiking or outdoor adventure. Hiking is a high-risk activity; individuals should know their limits, take precautions, and prioritize safety. By using this site, you acknowledge and accept these risks; the web designer and contributors are not legally responsible for any consequences.

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