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INSANE Viewpoints Along the Crater Rim Trail - Crater Lake National Park

It's true anywhere along the 33-mile Rim Drive is going to be amazing but this moderate hike will give you the best bang for your buck, time and energy!

Crater Lake National Park Rim Trail Oregon The Watchman Peak The Discovery Trail

About The Hike

This hike combines three hikes around the southwest rim of Crater Lake and provides the best views that you can experience of the stunning and photographic Wizard Island.

Crater Lake National Park Rim Trail Oregon The Watchman Peak The Discovery Trail

The trail uses the Crater Lake Rim Trail for a 7-mile out & back style hike that will start from Rim Village and end up at The Watchman peak. I think you'll find that one of your favorite parts will be between The Watchman and the Discovery Point Trails where you're hiking the PCT alternate route on the Rim Trail.

The mile section connecting the two hikes is less commonly day hiked but still provides the best view points and offers some serenity in a National Park that can become haphazardly congested.

Crater Lake National Park Rim Trail Oregon The Watchman Peak The Discovery Trail

These figures are estimates based on AllTrails data and the links to the two trails below can help piece together the two connecting trails.

Rim Village to The Watchman Peak via Crater Lake Rim Trail:

Distance: 7.0 Miles

Type: Out & Back

Elevation: 8012 feet

Ascent: 900 feet

Both of these trails can be done separately by driving to their respective trailheads but you'll miss out on the feel of doing a real hike and be lumped together with the rest of the car hopping retirement crowd.

Crater Lake National Park Rim Trail Oregon The Watchman Peak The Discovery Trail
View from below of The Watchman peak

Fast Facts of Crater Lake

How deep is Crater Lake?

Crater Lake is 1,943 feet deep. It's the deepest lake in the United States and the deepest volcanic lake in the world.

Where does the water come from?

Rain and snow. No rivers feed into the lake. Park Headquarters receives an average of 42 feet of snow per year.

Does the lake level change?

Not much. The lake experiences twice as much precipitation as evaporation but the caldera doesn't fill up because water seeps out through a porous rock layer along the north shore.

Are there fish in the lake?

Yes - Rainbow Trout and Kokanee Salmon. They were stocked from 1888 to 1941. Crater Lake contained no fish originally.

Does the lake freeze in the winter?

Very rarely. Deep lakes freeze only in very cold weather. They contain a tremendous volume of water but have relatively little surface area. Crater Lake has not frozen over since 1949.

How did Crater Lake form?

Crater Lake occupies the shell of Mount Mazama, a collapsed volcano. The volcano once stood 12,000 feet tall, but its summit imploded after a major eruption 7,700 years ago.

Is Wizard Island the top of the old volcano?

No. Wizard Island is a newer volcano that emerged from Crater Lake around 7,300 years ago.

Is Mount Mazama extinct?

It's considered to be dormant, but not dead. The last eruption happened underwater 4,800 years ago. Future eruptions are likely.

*Facts provided by CLNP 'Ask the Ranger' bulletin
Crater Lake National Park Rim Trail Oregon The Watchman Peak The Discovery Trail

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.

The 33-mile Rim Drive is a great way to see the entire park and there are many pullover vistas and parking areas for additional hikes. Rim Village is a classic stop and is the start of this hike which will be easy to find.

From Rim Village, hike westward and you'll see signs for the Discovery Point Trail.

The park offers water fill-up from a fountain at the Rim Village Visitor Center, about a hundred yards east of the Rim Village Café and Restaurant.

Crater Lake National Park Rim Trail Oregon The Watchman Peak
The view from atop The Watchman's peak

Be sure to check out other great hikes in Crater Lake National Park including the highpoint of the park - Mount Scott!


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Photography exclusively by Dan Oliver unless otherwise stated and cited. Embedded maps are provided by Embed Google Map ( and map images shown are provided as stated and cited.


This website is provided for entertainment purposes only, and is not meant to serve as an instructional guide, or present itself as an authority for any of the locations written about. The locations mentioned, written, and photographed herein are nothing more than my personal adventure archive. If you are interested in visiting any locations you should not depend on the information in this website to plan any excursions. You should research a wide variety of informational sources, websites, hiking guide books and maps found elsewhere. Many locations are dangerous and potentially illegal to access which can lead to fines, injury or death even when prepared. I do not encourage anyone to trespass or put themselves or others in way of harm. This website, and therefore its’ owner/author, cannot assume any responsibility for anything you may incur while hiking or exploring any of these locations or anywhere on planet earth. Thank you for viewing!


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