Crater Peak (Crater Lake National Park) 08-Sep-2012

Crater 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 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,

Crater Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Vidae Creek

took us past a guard pica,

Crater Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Pica (arrow)

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,

Crater Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Near the summit of Crater Peak

and continued on up to the charming little meadow that fills the top of Crater Peak.

Crater Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

The flower-filled crater atop the peak

We found the official top,

Crater Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Now it’s official

then walked around the crater rim, which gave us views to the north,

Crater Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Garfield Peak (L) and Mount Scott (R)

and to the west of the plug that is Union Peak.

Crater Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Union Peak from Crater 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.

Crater Peak Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Sunset at Crater Lake

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.

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