After a semi-rest day (Sparks Lake) we headed to Crater Lake National Park for our third visit hoping this time to actually be able to see the lake. In 2012 smoke had made it nearly invisible and earlier this year clouds had completely blocked the view. This time we were not disappointed.
Our plan was to hike to the former lookout tower on Mt. Scott, the highest point in the park at 8938′ and then head north on Hwy 138 to the Tipsoo Peak Trail and also summit that 8034′ peak. The two hikes combined would be just over 11 miles with a combined 3000′ of elevation gain making them very doable in a single day.
The Mt. Scott Trail sets off along a broad plain at the base of the mountain giving a clear view of the entire peak as well as the lookout tower on it’s northern end.
The trail climbs around to the south side of the mountain and then up to the long ridge along Mt. Scotts summit. Not only were the skies clear above Crater Lake but we were able to see mountain peaks from Mt. Shasta in the south to Mt. Jefferson up north along the way. The views started early along the trail and just improved was we climbed.
Mt. Shasta, Mt. McLoughlin, and Union Peak to the south.
Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack
While we were traversing the ridge over to the lookout tower we spotted a hawk soaring high above the park.
After checking out the tower we headed back down to the car to start the drive to the Tipsoo Peak Trail. We had to make a couple of stops just to take in the beauty of Crater Lake.
We left the park and drove up to the Tipsoo Trail where we were surprised to find a much nicer forest than we had expected. Our previous trips in the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness had been through lodgepole pine forests which are not exactly eye candy.
We were also surprised by the number of mushrooms we spotted.
The climb was very gradual making it fairly easy going as we approached the summit. Near the top the trail passed by the edge of pumice filled Howlock Meadows where Howlock Mountain, Mt. Thielsen, and Mt. Bailey were visible.
Red cinder covered the top of Tipsoo Peak and the 360 degree view revealed several mountains and lakes.
Howlock Mountain and Mt. Thielsen
The Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor
These were a couple of really nice hikes if you are looking for big views without a long or steep hike. Both hikes were on the shorter end (4.6 & 6.5 miles) and both trails climbed very gradually making them very nice options. The access road for the Tipsoo Peak trail was a bit rough and would probably require a high clearance vehicle though. Happy Trails!