Crater Lake Hiking Trails

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Hiking Trails

Crater Lake hiking allows you to explore one of the most beautiful sights in Oregon – an incredibly deep, blue, pristine alpine lake that was formed over 7,700 years ago.

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  • Cleetwood Clove Trail is a strenuous 1.1 mile hike that descends to the lake’s shore.
  • Wizard Island Summit is a moderately difficult 0.9 mile trail that takes you to the top of this volcanic cone in the lake.
  • Garfield Peak is a very challenging 1.7 mile trail that begins at the lodge and takes you along the crater’s rim for spectacular views.


Boasting some of central Oregon’s most spectacular scenery, Crater Lake is truly a hiker’s paradise. Over 90 miles of trails take you through towering Ponderosa pines and along crystal clear alpine waters. Many Crater Lake hiking trails offer spectacular views of the beautiful Cascade Mountain Range. Crater Lake trails include a variety of train as you ascend to the summit of Wizard Island or hike along the rim. Over 33 miles of the famous Pacific Crest Trail pass through the park as well. Although most Crater Lake hikes can be done in a day, be sure to get a permit if you are planning an overnight hike.

Cleetwood Cove Trail

This is the only Crater Lake hiking trail that provides legal access to the shore of the lake, this challenging trail is quite steep with an 11% grade. Several switchbacks lead you down to the lake’s beautiful but rocky shore. This is the trail used to access lake tour boats.

Trailhead: The trail begins 4 and a half miles east of North Junction, where you can park.

  • Distance: 1.1 miles
  • Average Time of Hike: 1 to 1.5 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 674 feet drop in elevation as you descend.
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Trail Type: One way

Wizard Island Summit

This switchback trail takes you to the summit of Wizard Island, a volcanic cinder cone located in the lake that resembles a sorcerer’s hat. From the summit you can peer into the 90 foot crater. Views of the lake and nearby mountains are breathtaking.

Trailhead: Wizard Island boat dock (You must first hike down the Cleetwood Cove Trail to get to the boat to Wizard Island.)

  • Distance: 0.9 miles
  • Average Time of Hike: 1 hour
  • Elevation Gain: Just over 760 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Type: One way

Castle Crest Wildflower Garden

This is an easy, short hike that showcases beautiful wildflowers in full bloom during the summer.

Trailhead: Across the road from the parking lot of the Park Headquarters, or half a mile from Park Headquarters on the East Rim Drive.

  • Distance: 1 mile (from Park Headquarters); 0.4 miles from East Rim Drive
  • Average Time of Hike: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 100 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy (be prepared for rocky, uneven terrain in some spots)
  • Trail Type: Loop

Garfield Peak

This popular hike is notorious for providing spectacular vistas of the lake and the surrounding landscape as you climb along the crater’s rim.

Trailhead: The crater’s rim east of the Crater Lake Lodge

  • Distance: 1.7 miles
  • Average Time of Hike: 2 to 3 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,010 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Trail Type: One way


Day use permits are required. Always dress appropriately including sturdy hiking shoes and extra clothing. Bring food and water for more lengthy hikes. Always stay on the trails and make sure you know all the rules and regulations before you start your hike. Since you will be hiking at elevations over 6,000 feet, be aware that it may be more physically demanding than usual.