The Watchman Peak Trail

MODERATE 104 reviews
#4 of 21 trails in

The Watchman Peak Trail is a 1.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Crater Lake, Oregon that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from June until October.

DISTANCE
1.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
387 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

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
18 days ago

Hiked this trail in June 2017. Beautiful views. Bees were annoying.

hiking
27 days ago

Short hike on a well graded trail - well worth it - especially at sunset! 19 Sep 2018

hiking
1 month ago

I would rate as moderate, just because of the elevation change near the top. Great views all around today. The smoke from nearby fires wasn't too bad today. Beautiful area.

hiking
1 month ago

great view. you can see the whole Cascades and Siskyous (if it wasn't for the smoke from the California fires) The National Park Service rates it as moderate to strenuous. possibly because of the elevation (8,013 ft) Even so, I had less problems with the thin air than I did 40+ years ago at the same elevation on Mt. Fuji. (Who says youth can handle it better than oldsters?)

Very easy and short hike up for some nice views of the lake. Can get crowded so go earlier in the day.

hiking
2 months ago

Nice, quick hike that offers amazing views of both the entire lake and Wizard Island.

2 months ago

Short and sweet. Well maintained, fairly easy uphill trail. Lookout is locked up and in rough shape but it's definitely worth the quick trip.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike. Not too busy with amazing views at the top

hiking
2 months ago

Short hike but amazing view :)

3 months ago

Definitely worth the effort for the views from the top! It’s a constant but not too strenuous elevation gain, and there are some pretty wildflowers and interestingly gnarled trees to look at along the trail (as well as the views!). We hiked this trail in the afternoon on 4th July and even though the parking lot was very busy we only passed a handful of other groups on the trail. There was also snow in pockets along the trail, but not on the trail itself.

hiking
3 months ago

Nice easy hike. In fact, I’d rate this as “easy” and not moderate. But I guess it’s a subjective measure.
You get great views up at the top. It is a high traffic trail so keep that in mind for weekends and holidays. I went on the trail on July 5th so it was predictably busy.

3 months ago

The views from the top were spectacular and well worth the hike up. the trail has lots of views of the Lake, but also views of the valleys and mountains looking down from Rim. it was clear when we hiked it and we even got a great view of far away Mount Shasta.

hiking
3 months ago

This is not a review - but rather a warning that as of 6/24/18 this trail is still closed.

snowshoeing
9 months ago

Weather was great and we got a great view of the lake and Wizard Island. Rented snowshoes from gift shop and cafe in Rim Village ($16 for 24 hrs). From Rim Village to the Watchmen it is about 4 miles (8 miles round trip) and took us a total of 4.5 hours there and back. You can’t get to the peak with all the snow though.

hiking
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Great, easy hike with beautiful views.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Sunset!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Great view at the top!

hiking
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Great view from the top. Lake is bigger than I remember.

hiking
Monday, June 26, 2017

It's not a hard trail to hike. Go late summer when all the snow is melted.

hiking
Saturday, November 12, 2016

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

hiking
Thursday, September 15, 2016

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.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Nice trail for beginners

hiking
Saturday, July 30, 2016

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
Saturday, July 02, 2016

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.

hiking
Thursday, September 24, 2015

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
Thursday, September 03, 2015

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
Monday, August 03, 2015

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
Thursday, December 04, 2014

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
Saturday, October 18, 2014

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
Monday, September 29, 2014

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

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