Hikes for Kids: Garfield Peak Trail (Crater Lake National Park)


  • Trail will be covered in snow from October until July usually, and the upper portion of the hike can be covered in snow until late July
  • Trail length is 3.5 miles total and climbs about 1115 feet. You are hiking at elevation (7090 – 8,060 ft)
  • This trail is listed as a difficult hike, and is fine for older kids. Younger kids were turning back a bit earlier and I wouldn’t suggest hiking with them when there is snow on the ground.
  • Start your hike early before the crowds, and maybe you will get to see some of the wildlife!

As we sat on the patio of the lodge at Crater Lake, we watched several folks walking up a trail to our right. We checked out park map and realized it was the Garfield Peak Trail and we thought it looked like something we might want to do. Disclaimer, this trail technically wasn’t really “open” yet. The trail’s season starts in June when the snow has melted more. Our thought was that we would walk until we thought we should stop and we would turn back.

This hike has been listed as one of the most popular hikes in the Park, and that can mainly be attributed to it’s proximity to the lodge and people like us seeing other people on it and Traking up the Garfield Trail from the lodgewanting to check it out (yes, I am one of those people…sometimes!)! It is a beautiful walk and is said to give more “bang for your buck” than most other hikes in the park.

During our visit last Memorial Day, the trail had large patches of snow on it, so we were mindful about our descent and made sure we didn’t get in over our heads. The snow was hard packed in some areas and slushy in others. This can be quite dangerous if you lose your footing, so please use extreme caution if you hike with the snow.

IMG_1548We followed the paved path  and then started up the hill a bit, passing through a grove of trees before hitting a meadow area with a good deal of snow (pictured right). It wasn’t overly steep, but was well tracked and we didn’t have any trouble with traction. As we continued up the hike, the snow gave way to dirt and we were able to enjoy a flatter walking surface, albeit a little bit muddy in some places. This inevitably gave way to snow again. Patches of snow and dirt continued to alternate for our entire walk.

We decided we would try to walk up to a stone structure we could see from the lodge. After our walk I stopped in at the Gift Shop and asked a ranger what it is. It is an old pump house and turns out it supplies the Rim Village with it’s water. It is quite a beautiful stone structure.

The old pump house

From the pump house, you will be looking south and the view is amazing. Not only can you see into Crater Lake (and there is a nice view point at the switch back right before you start up the hill to the pump IMG_1554house), but you can see Mt Shasta, Mt Theilsen (also known as the “Lightening Rod of the Cascades”), Klamath Lake, Mt Scott and Mt McLoughlin to name a few of bigger features visible outside of the park.

I understand from the top the views are even better and you can see the Phantom Ship, the Watchman, and Wizard Island which are inside the lake.

Heading back down the trailThis will be a great hike for families with older kids. It is 3.5 miles and can be quite steep in some areas. When there is snow I wouldn’t suggest taking younger kids up, but if the trail is clear, they might like to try the bottom portion.

We figured we did about 1.5-2 miles total to the pump house and back (I forgot to set my watch to track us unfortunately). We look forward to getting back to Crater Lake and doing this hike when there isn’t as much snow on the ground!





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