Garfield Peak


Moderate

3.4 miles round-trip
1010 feet elevation gain
Open mid-July through October 

Left: Crater Lake Lodge, with Garfield Peak to the right.


Perhaps the prettiest trail in Crater Lake National Park follows the lake’s craggy rim from the historic lodge to the wildflowers and views of Garfield Peak. As on all park trails, pets and flower-picking are banned.

The path starts from ...

Truth be told, the lodge here wasn’t always grand. Built from 1909-1915 at a cost of just $50,000, the building originally opened with tarpaper on its outside walls and flimsy beaverboard between rooms. Years of makeshift maintenance and harsh winters left the building slated for demolition in the 1980s. But a public outcry pushed the Park Service to renovate it instead. After a $35 million makeover, the lodge reopened in 1995 with elegant woodwork in the Great Hall, a modern bath in each guestroom, and its rustic ambiance remarkably intact.

Walk behind ... 

Pavement soon yields to a broad trail through meadows of pale blue lupine, bright orange paintbrush, yellow groundsel, purple daisy-shaped flea-bane, and white pearly everlasting. Views improve with each switchback. The trail climbs past cliffs of breccia—welded volcanic rubble from Mt. Mazama’s early mountain-building eruptions. The breccia here was long buried with lava flows, but these were stripped away by glaciers. The glaciers, in turn, vanished after Mt. Mazama lost its summit in a cataclysmic blast 7700 years ago.

Snow patches linger across the trail until August near the top. At this elevation, only gnarled, 5-needle whitebark pines survive. These trees’ limber limbs, so flexible they can be tied in knots, help the pines bend rather than break in winter gales.

Garfield Peak was named for ...

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon.