Friday, September 30, 2016

Crater Lake Rim Village: strolls and trails

Crater Lake's south rim with forest-hidden Rim Village, Garfield Peak (left) and Crater Peak (background)

Staircase to Sinnott_Overlook
The Rim Village is located above the southwest corner of Crater Lake. This is a great place to start a tour around the lake on Rim Drive. Many first-time visitors do, getting their initial Wow! moments at the many overlook points and interpreted sites at the scenic village. Hiking trails leave the village in both rim directions and also towards the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which traverses Crater Lake National Park west of the crater.

Shore of Crater Lake below Sinnott_Overlook
National parks are lately seeing spikes in visitation and Crater Lake is no exception. Rim Village can get crowded on summer days. The popular village hubs include the Rim Village Café, the Visitor Center & Book Store and the historic Crater Lake Lodge. The Sinnott_Memorial Overlook is easily accessed by descending a stone staircase next to the visitor center. This roofed viewing platform and study forum houses exhibits and features ranger talks around a relief map of the park.

Rim promenade with Crater Lake Lodge
At the village, the rim trail is a paved promenade. Looking for an elevation gain that puts you above the crowd? What about a 3.4-mile-long round trip from the panoramic lodge, eastbound, to the top of Garfield Peak (8054 ft, 2455 m) and back? To enjoy the west rim with its spectacular vistas of Wizard Island, consider hiking about one mile to Discovery Point. Easy! From Discovery Point the trail along Crater Lake's rim continues to Watchman Overlook and Merriam Point allowing for a closer look at the massive dacite cliffs of Llao_Rock.

Wizard Island and Llao Rock cliffs (upper right)
While planning your hikes around Crater Lake, remember that you are at high altitude. The Park Service map gives an average surface elevation of 6173 ft (1882 m) for the lake. The Rim Village is at about 7000 ft (2134 m).