At an elevation of 8,934 feet, Mount Scott is the highest point in CLNP. Located on the outside of Rim Drive, this trail provides sweeping panoramic views of the entire lake and outside wildernesses.
About The Hike
Hiking Mount Scott is one of the more strenuous trails in CLNP but by no means will you face any technical sections on this climb. The one way distance is 2.25 miles with a 1,200 foot elevation gain.
The trailhead is located directly on the side of Rim Drive about twenty minutes counter-clockwise from Rim Village. The first quarter mile of the trail is flat as it crosses the rocky plains before getting into the woods on the ascent side of Mount Scott.
The trail is a graded path that wraps around the mountain with packed dirt and rocky terrain. Once approaching the backside the pathway switches to long switchbacks which you'll start to have views out towards Crater Lake.
Enjoy the time on the way up, some of these rock vistas offer better angled views which include the steep slopes of Mount Scott.
After the final ascent you'll reach the ridge path as the lookout tower comes into sight. The lookout tower is locked but makes for a cool angle and subject in your photos. You can even climb around a bit on the rungs and rocks nearby.
The total distance is over four miles for this trail and maps can be found on AllTrails.
Mount Scott Trail:
Distance: 4.2 Miles
Type: Out & Back
Ascent: 1259 feet
My Experience Shooting The Milky Way
I headed into Crater Lake National Park after a few stops earlier with the most recent being Salt Creek and Diamond Creek Falls. I arrived into the park around 6pm with the plans to summit Mount Scott before sunset and shoot the milky way through the night until the sun rose.
An epic and ambitious shooting session for sure. Getting into Crater Lake National Park for the first time is an electric feeling and these plans excited the heck out of me so I didn't count on backing out.
Being a national park, the rules are much stricter and there is no camping allowed on these day hiking trails and primitive camping requires a stop in to the rangers for a permit. Being that all these facilities were closed and I technically wasn't 'camping'... I flew up the mountain with disregard to the legality since sunset was closing in quick.
I caught the sun setting behind Wizard Island on my way up the mountain, pretty much the same moment as I reached the first good vantage point three-quarters of the way up. I decided making a push wasn't worth it and enjoyed this time with the sun setting over Crater Lake before pushing on to the lookout tower at the summit.
I had roughly been using the photography app Photo Pills for preliminary planning which was a reason why I chose Mount Scott over other places in the park for this session. The smoke from ongoing wildfires in Umpqua National Forest left a haze along the horizon but otherwise this was a clear night for shooting stars.
My AT friend Monster was texting me at the time and said the best stars she'd seen on the PCT were when she was in CLNP, exactly what I wanted to be hearing! The temperatures dropped rapidly after the sunset and being at almost 9,000 of elevation I was glad to have my Day Hiking Essentials and camp gear.
The milky way wasn't reaching the point of Crater Lake until around midnight so I faded out with an audiobook and set an alarm to catch myself if I dozed off. Sure enough at midnight I was looking as this insane view of the milky way towering over Crater Lake and Wizard Island.
I took plenty of shots and even have a time lapse in the works at the moment. After a long night I headed down as the sun rose over the backside to continue on to exploring the Rim Trail around Crater Lake which was another highlight of my Oregon trip.
I didn't see a single person on my way up the mountain, all night shooting, nor for sunrise as I was hiking down. Exactly what I like in these situations. Leave no trace, and be like a ghost.
Getting There and Important Information
Crater Lake National Park is a National Park and with that comes stricter rules and regulations when visiting compared to state parks or national forests. Especially with overnight parking and camping. See NPS page here.
The park has a fee of typically $30 per vehicle unless you have acquired the annual parks pass or other discount passes offered here.
To reiterate camping is only allowed by permit in certain areas of the park.
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