Garfield Peak : Excellent Hike with Crater Lake Views
Crater Lake is epic from every angle. All I wanted to do on our trip is drive around the rim, hike up to a peak to look out over lake, and hike down to the lake and swim.
We chose Garfield Peak rather than Mount Scott because we read that it has awesome views in the morning, and the whole way up and not just at the peak. The reviews we read were right. This hike is great, especially if you can get an early start. If you have the time to do a hike, make it this one. It is one of the more popular hikes because it is not super long or difficult. Despite it's popularity, we had the trail almost to ourselves due to getting an early start.
We woke up early, and started hiking as the sun rose. There's no designated parking lot for this trailhead since it starts behind the Crater Lake Lodge. We parked near the Rim Village Visitor Center, just down from the Lodge. The trail starts off along the paved sidewalk that winds around the lake until you come to the trailhead.
This hike is 3.3 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of a little over 1,000 feet. The majority of the hike up is in the shade and winds around the rim with a lot of views of the lake. From the other side of the trail you see some epic views as well - the sweeping Southern Cascades and Klamath Basin.
We don't typically encounter animals on our hikes and trails. Perhaps, it is because we don't normally get such an early start. This is something we are trying to be more proactive about. The few times we have woken up before the sun and gone out on a hike have been incredible. This was no exception. We had the trail almost to ourselves. We are slower hikers with Andrea still recovering from her leg injury, so we had a few people pass us, but the best part was seeing several animals.
We saw our first marmot and a mouse like animal that we learned later was a pika. We read in the Lassen National Park newspaper that the pika is an indicator species for detecting ecological effects of climate change. They are extremely heat intolerant, so they track these little creatures and are discovering that they are leaving lower elevations and not returning in response to increased temperatures.
Back to the trail though! While there is a little over 1,000 feet of elevation gain, this is not a steep hike. It has a good amount of switchbacks to help with the elevation and the trail is very well maintained.
Once you reach the top, you have panoramic views of Crater Lake. You can see Wizard Island and the Phantom Ship. We spent at least a half an hour at the top taking photos, drinking water and having a breakfast bar. While there, we chatted with a few other fellow hikers about the upcoming eclipse. Once you are done enjoying the view from just over 8,000 feet, begin the descent back the way you came.