Crater Lake is the deepest freshwater lake in the United States, amd ninth deepest in the world at a depth of 1,949 feet. The massive volcano, Mount Mazama, once stood at the location of the lake. After its last massive eruption approximately 7,000 years ago, the volcano caved in to form the large caldera that now stands. Over time, snow melt eventually filled the caldera to form what we know as Crater Lake today.
An almost unbelievable blue, the water in Crater Lake is also known to be one of the clearest and most unadulterated bodies of water in the world. Just the initial sight of it is enough to take your breath away.
Our first day, we had hoped to climb Mount Scott, but with a bicycle event closing half of the park to the public, our choices were limited. It was almost like divine intervention though, because we may not have tried the Garfield Peak hike otherwise.
Highly recommended by a park ranger as an alternative, Garfield Peak is 3.5 miles round-trip and has an elevation gain of approximately 1000 feet. With the temperatures comfortable in the sixties, it was a decent workout, but overall, perfect and not too difficult hike.
The trailhead is right next to the beautiful Crater Lake Lodge, where you get early views of the lake.
The walk begins with a gradual elevation gain through a wooded area and begins climbing progressively steeper zigzagging across partially shaded switchbacks that have fantastic views of the rest of the park. Apparent were also reminders of the lake’s volcanic past as pumice rocks lined the trail that looked as if you could almost pull them out and hold them.
Views of the lake peak out from a few small ridge lines on the trail, but the ultimate treat of the best view leaves you waiting until the very end, where you are rewarded with sweeping views from the wide 7,976 foot high landing at which the trail ends. Overlooking Wizard Island (the volcanic cinder cone island protruding from the center of the lake), the bright blue water, and the rest of the park behind, it is an almost unreal landscape.
The way down was, as going continually downhill usually is, a bit of a knee grinder, but overall not too bad. We ended the day feeling rejuvenated from a perfect length hike and excited to explore more the next day.