The Watchman Peak Trail

MODERATE 23 reviews
#4 of 18 trails in

The Watchman Peak Trail is a 1.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Chiloquin, OR that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and birding and is accessible from June until October.

1.8 miles 436 feet Out & Back

kid friendly

birding

hiking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

The Watchman Peak Trail in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon is a moderately steep 1.6 mile out and back climb to a 360 degree view on the west side above Crater Lake from a historic fire lookout. Starting from the Watchman Overlook pullout, 3.7 miles north and west of Rim Village on West Rim Drive overlooking Wizard Island, the Watchman Peak Trail starts from the south end of a paved parking area and gradually switchbacks up to The Watchman fire tower overlooking Crater Lake and panoramic views over the entire surrounding area. This key vantage point offers spectacular views of the lake and Wizard Island, especially in the afternoon. Also night hikes with a ranger are available for some awesome star gazing.

hiking
21 days ago

Hiked this trail at sunset in early August and the views were truly unbelievable. Highly recommended and not to be missed.

hiking
2 months ago

Good views of lake. We hiked from Watchman picnic area along Pacific Crest Trail, a little over 3 miles round trip. Much more pleasant than hiking from the Watchman lot. It is crowded as others have said. For more serenity try Garfield Peak.

2 months ago

Nice trail for beginners

3 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

To clarify a review below, Crater Lake NP receives a significant amount of snow, and winter is a long season up there. Snow and ice can linger into July, which in turn means the trail is not yet safe enough to open. We hiked this trail on 7/29/16, and there were still large patches of hard snow along the trail. That said, the short "open" season of this trail does not take away from how great it is! Yes, it's short, but it will get your heart pumping through a series of switchbacks up to the fire lookout tower (now a sort of museum). From the top, you get a fabulous vista of the lake and surrounding park. There was a small wildfire when we went, so we also were able to observe the firefighter planes, which was pretty cool. I give this trail five stars for the amazing views, but there is a downside: It's SUPER busy. If you want a peaceful place to contemplate Crater Lake, this is not the trail for you. It's easily accessible from Rim Village and the trailhead is at a very busy overlook. I imagine if you went a little later in the season, before the snow starts, you might have a quieter hike up to the lookout.

hiking
5 months ago

currently the trail is closed :( we got to the trail head but it says is trail closed, says in tiny print "seasonal" but not when it will be open. the brochure provided by crater lake staff as you enter the park says closed until mid July.

8 months ago

9 months ago

hiking
1 year ago

Crater Lake is absolutely beautiful and you can get such great views from here. Trail is easy to follow and is moderately steep. I only give it 4 stars because it is such a tourist trap and it is packed full of people! Still worth it to make the trek to get a good view and photos.

hiking
1 year ago

hiking
1 year ago

It's a great trail with an excellent view. We watched the sunset from this location even though it didn't set over the lake. It was interesting watching the different colors of the lake as the sun moved.

hiking
1 year ago

This was my first trip to Crater Lake, even though I've lived in Oregon for 22 years. I was not able to stay very long but I was able to take the Watchman Peak Trail. An attempt at trying to find the words to describe what I felt when I first saw Crater Lake in person ended in failure. All I have to say is if you haven't seen it, go and see it. If you've seen it, go see it again. It's worth it one hundred times over.

hiking
2 years ago

One of my very favorite short hikes to an awe-inspiring view above the most beautiful clear blue lake you'll ever experience. Near the end of July, we hiked through patches of snow up to the top on an absolutely perfect day. The hike is moderately steep and will give you a great workout going up, and the view is breathtaking for 360 degrees. Lots of picture opportunities with access to the firetower, this is a MUST DO if you visit Crater Lake. Also if you get a chance take the night hike up with the ranger for the most spectacular star gazing opportunity around. Absolutely amazing!

hiking
2 years ago

Gorgeous view of the entire lake. It's a consistent upward hike on the way up, but it's short and not too strenuous. Highly recommend!

hiking
2 years ago

was a little foggy when I was there. can imagine the views! will go back in the summer

2 years ago

Fabulous! A must do! Then catch Garfield trail! What gems!

hiking
2 years ago

This trail opened the second week of July this year. We hiked up shortly before sunset and got some beautiful views of the lake at sunset with a nearly full moon in the sky. There is a daily ranger led sunset hike here as well.

There were still a few snowy patches that were great fun for kids. I make the hike up with a kid in a backpack with no problems. It is a short enough hike that my four year old was able to make the hike down easily. You are able to climb up the stairs to the balcony surrounding the fire lookout at the summit. Great views in all directions (including in towards the stuff in the fire lookout, though to my disappointment the Osborne Fire Finder was covered up by a cloth).

hiking
2 years ago

I did this hike this year with my grandparent proud of them for making it up at 77 years old. Stayed at the campground and did this as a sunset hike. Although the sunset is not of the lake but away from the lake. 700 ft incline with lots of switchbacks. This trail did have snow on sides of the trail even in late July.

hiking
3 years ago

Good trail for kids. They liked hiking up to the lookout, Unfortunately, you can't go into the lookout. Great view of the lake and surrounding crater.

hiking
3 years ago

This is a short hike that starts at the parking lot of a rim drive overlook. The view from the top is spectacular and the retired old fire lookout is still intact but off limits to the public. The view is directly across from Wizard Island allowing a great close up view. The trail is smooth with well groomed switchbacks at the top and granite stairs at the top. A very busy trail.