It’s difficult to put into words how gorgeous Crater Lake is in person, so I’ll just leave this picture right here…
This was my second visit to Crater Lake National Park, and this time we decided to trek UP to see the lake from above. Video of our time at the park below!
We decided to tackle the Garfield Peak Trail. As you can imagine, it involved a decent amount of elevation change, but the views were worth it and on the trip down, we rarely lost sight of the lake. The other side of the trail though…lovely too.
Get lost in the blue-ness of the lake!
But it seriously doesn’t get better than this! Let’s talk about the trail though. The trailhead is near the Crater Lake Lodge and it immediately started with an uphill climb for 1.75 miles (which didn’t stop until we reached the peak). There are small bits that have some shade, but during the mid-morning it was mostly in the full sun. We had plenty of water on-hand and took a few stops in the shade when we could.
And then we got to the top and it didn’t disappoint. While the trail is listed as “heavily trafficked” we didn’t encounter as many folks as we expected. BUT, there were still people and a number of them were mask-less. Don’t forget those masks on the trails!
At the top of the trail, there were also an incredible amount of butterflies and buzzing insects (but not a lot of trees for shade). We started to hike down to find a little bit of shade and have a snack.
This spot felt perfect. After our snack, we finished up the hike and decided it was time for a full lunch! I had packed some chicken salad sandwiches so all we had to do was find a quiet, shady spot to enjoy. We settled on the picnic area near Lightning Springs. Instead of going to the actual picnic area, we followed a short, uphill trail next to the viewpoint just before the picnic turnoff, and enjoyed our lunch under the trees with a beautiful view of the lake (which is impossible to avoid).
A last few notes on your next visit Crater Lake:
- Get there as early as you can. You won’t have to deal with the parking headache, and you can get great snaps of the lake without fighting the crowds.
- If you have the time (and it’s completely open), take the drive around the rim. There are plenty of viewpoints from all around the crater.
- You can swim in the lake! If you take the Cleetwood Trail down (and it’s VERY downhill and very uphill on the way back) you find yourself at the lake.
- The National Park is quite the drive from any major city. I’d recommend finding a camping spot nearby and great news, there’s plenty of campgrounds to choose from.
- There are spots that are less crowded. Try to find one and just enjoy the scenery. It’s such a special spot and the lake is SOOOO blue!
Happy Hiking, friends!