The Watchman Peak Trail

MODERATE 49 reviews
#4 of 18 trails in

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

1.8 miles
390 feet
Out & Back

kid friendly






wild flowers


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.

22 days 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.

3 months ago

Great, easy hike with beautiful views.

4 months ago


4 months ago

Great view at the top!

4 months ago

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

6 months ago

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

Monday, September 29, 2014

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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

Thursday, July 17, 2014

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).

Friday, January 24, 2014

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.

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