A view of Crater Lake from the hike up to Garfield Peak – Crater Lake National Park, OR

This past October, we planned a vacation in Oregon that included some time in Portland and a lot of time in Oakridge to take advantage of the mountain bike trails surrounding the town. We knew after doing some research, that Crater Lake was less than 3 hours drive from where we were staying, so we decided to work a day trip there into our schedules. We are so glad we did.

We got up early and got on the road to the park, aiming to arrive before noon so we could do a few hikes, have lunch, and hit some hot springs at sunset before driving back to Oakridge.

We decided to do two hikes in the park: Cleetwood Cove & Garfield Peak. These two hikes are very different in both difficulty and views. While Cleetwood Cove descends down to the lake shore, providing opportunities to take a dip and even catch a boat tour in the summer months, Garfield Peak ascends 1,000 ft up to beautiful vista overlooking the lake. We chose to do Cleetwood Cove first for its ease and allure of getting close to the water. After that, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at Rim Village before tackling the more challenging Garfield Peak hike.

We also decided to end our visit to the park with a quick trip to Umpqua Hot Springs! More info at the end of this post.

Cleetwood Cove Trail

Popular – 2.1 mile out and back, elevation gain (on way back) 650 ft.

Looking out at the lake from the beginning of the Cleetwood Cove Trail.
The hike begins with tree covered switchbacks, descending towards the lake.
The trail winds down in switchbacks.
At each switchback, you get a beautiful view of the lake.
As you wind down the path towards the lakeshore, your views get better and better.
Once you reach the end of the trail, there’s a popular jumping spot for the adventurous and thrill seeking. The water is crystal clear, showing blues and teals to the rocks below.
We snapped this photo of a fellow jumper right before we jumped in ourselves.
It might have been 55 degrees outside, but it didn’t stop us from jumping in – it was too beautiful to say no!
Happy we took the plunge!

The hike back to your car from the bottom of the trail is a steady climb. What was once an easy stroll down is now a bit of work on the way back up, but the trail is smooth and easy to ascend. All in all, we really enjoyed this trail! Definitely not one to miss.

Garfield Peak

Popular – 3.5 mile out and back, elevation gain (on way out) 1,115ft.

The Garfield Peak hike has much different foliage than Cleetwood Cove as the elevation difference gives way to less trees and more open spaces.
There are many vistas on this hike, providing direct views of Wizard Island.
Ascending to the peak brings you around a rocky cliff until wind around to the viewpoint.
Striking panoramas of the entire 6 mile lake are your reward for your long hike!
Snow still lingered at the top of the hike, reminding us of the 8,000 ft. elevation at the peak.
Looking northwest, you can see Wizard Island.
To the east, you can see Phantom Ship (the small island to the right).
A friendly hiker snapped this shot from above, giving us a grander perspective of the peak.

We are so glad we did this hike. It provided a stark contrast from Cleetwood Cove as we were able to get up high and feel ‘above’ the lake. We were also able to see Wizard Island from a new vantage point and even catch a look at Phantom Ship! Although the hike is longer and more steep than the Cleetwood Cove trail, it was still moderate and not too strenuous.

If you only have a day trip planned to Crater Lake, consider checking out these two hikes on your visit. We promise, they won’t disappoint!

Umpqua Hot Springs

We’re from Texas, where hot springs are not on our minds much as cold swimming spots, so when we travelled to Oregon we were curious if we could find some hot springs to dip ourselves into. Upon doing some research, we found out about Umpqua Hot Springs, a set of cascading geothermal pools that trickle down to the Umpqua river. We decided to visit at sunset and relax our tired legs and feet in the warm waters after a long day of hiking.

The trail to the Hot Springs is actually pretty obscure to get to, but we followed our Google Maps and it got us to the trailhead. It took a little over an hour to drive there from Crater Lake.

The hike down to the hot springs is less than half a mile, but it is very steep in sections, and there’s a fair amount of trash along the way (yuck!) so wear appropriate shoes.

To be honest, it seems like a lot of visitors to Umpqua Hot Springs decide to leave their trash behind and not take care of the beautiful natural area. If we went back, we’d bring a trash bag with us to help clean up the space.

The 105 degree water gathers in pools that cascade down towards the river, with each pool getting a little cooler as you go down. There are three large pools and a few smaller ones (which we enjoyed the most).

Covered pool with a table we dropped our bag at and shed our clothes.
The smaller cascading pools pictured here are far less hot than the larger pools above.
View from one of the smaller pools, looking down towards the Umpqua river below.
We took a short dip in the hottest pool (105 degrees) before heading back home.
View of the covered pool, towards the river.

Overall, we were happy to have visited these hot springs, but we did find them to not be very well taken care of by visitors there. Remember, when you visit any public natural space, always practice Leave No Trace principles. Pack out what you pack in.

That’s a wrap on our daytripping at Crater Lake National Park! Cold water, hot water, and beautiful views. What more can you ask for?

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