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 Crater Peak, located directly south of the lake and south of East Rim Drive. The trailhead is off Grayback Drive at the Vidae Falls picnic area. From there, we followed the trail as it crossed Vidae Creek,
took us past a guard pica,
and up almost to East Rim Drive, where we turned south along Vidae Ridge toward the peak. After some easy climbing through the forest on the trail along the ridge, we came out into the open,
and continued on up to the charming little meadow that fills the top of Crater Peak.
We found the official top,
then walked around the crater rim, which gave us views to the north,
and to the west of the plug that is Union Peak.
By no means a tough hike (6.5 miles roundtrip; 1,100 feet of elevation gain) but still a very beautiful and rewarding one. Highly recommended. After that, we headed to the lodge for drinks, dinner, and another subtly spectacular sunset.
Three days, two peaks, one springs, and a boat ride – it simply doesn’t get any better. This will certainly make it easier to bear the gloomy days of winter ahead.