Difficult 11 miles round-trip
1600 feet elevation gain
Open mid-July through October
Left: The summit of Union Peak has a view of Crater Lake's rim, but not the lake itself.
The oldest mountain in Crater Lake National Park, Union Peak’s rocky volcanic plug affords a view across ancient Mt. Mazama’s forested flanks to Cascade peaks from Mt. Thielsen to Mt. Shasta. The panorama comes with a price, however—the hike’s first 4.7 miles are a trudge through viewless woods, while the final 0.8 mile is an invigorating climb up three dozen switchbacks. A few other cautions: backpackers must pick up an overnight permit at a national park office, pets are not permitted, and there is no water.
Start by driving ...
The summit’s black boulders have shiny spots of melted rock where lightning has struck, proving this is no place to be in a storm. On a clear day, however, distant Mt. Shasta floats ghost-like on the southern horizon above Devils Peak, with the cone of Mt. McLoughlin to the right. To the west is the Rogue Valley’s haze. To the north, it’s easy to imagine Mt. Mazama’s former shape, although the mountain’s forested flanks now rise to a broken hole. Crater Lake itself is hidden inside but Llao Rock’s cliff, on the lake’s far shore, peeks out above Rim Village.
This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon.