Union Peak (Crater Lake NP) 06-Sep-2012

Union Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

In the past, we’ve always just driven through or around Crater Lake National Park, so this year we decided to stay for a few days and really explore the area. Going just after Labor Day meant that the weather was still good but the summer crowds were largely gone (from the trails but not the gift store). There were a few clouds at dusk every day but otherwise the weather was excellent.

Today’s goal was Union Peak, located in the southwest corner of the park. We took the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) south from the trailhead on Highway 62,

Union Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

This hike starts out along the PCT

to a well-signed junction with the Union Peak Trail. We did notice that the trail as mapped and the trail as walked didn’t exactly line-up for the first mile or so past this junction.

Union Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

At the turn-off to Union Peak

After a casual stroll through an open forest with practically no undergrowth,

Union Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Along the Union Peak Trail

we were suddenly confronted by the east face of Union Peak.

Union Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

The rugged east face of the peak

Fortunately, there’s a good trail all the way to the top – it comes in from the left and goes up through the trees on switchbacks that get smaller and smaller.

Union Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

The trail climbs through the trees on the left horizon

Looking down from the trail high on the side of the peak, we could see where the Union Peak Trail came up the ridge from its junction with the PCT.

Union Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Looking down on the Union Peak Trail

From the summit, we had a good view of Mount Scott, the park’s high point,

Union Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

The LovedOne on Union’s summit; Mount Scott is above her right shoulder

and, despite smoke from a large fire near Klamath Falls, of several other peaks to the north.

Union Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Mount Bailey (B), The Watchman (W), Mount Thielsen (T), Llao Peak (L), Mount Scott (S)

We could vaguely make-out Mount McLoughlin to the south but,

Union Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Mount McLoughlin was almost lost in smoke and haze

while the guidebook suggested we should be able to see Mount Shasta some 100+ miles away, the smoke pretty much ruled that out. After a snack, we headed back the way we’d come (9.5 miles roundtrip; 1,700 feet of elevation gain),

Union Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Our path to and from Union Peak

and spent the rest of the day sightseeing around the lake.

Union Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Sunset at Crater Lake

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