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Lightning Spring Trail

Intermediate
 4.3 (4)

A steady descent to the PCT that travels through famous Crater Lake geology.


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Map Key

4.0

Miles

6.4

KM

Point to Point

7,176' 2,187 m

High

5,873' 1,790 m

Low

0' 0 m

Up

1,302' 397 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (4°)

14%

Max Grade (8°)

Dogs Unknown

Features River/Creek · Views

Description

Access this great trail from a parking area about 2.5 miles north of Rim Village on Rim Road. A gravel parking area is conveniently located near the trailhead, on the west side of the road.

The trail used to be a fire road, so it's easy to make out your path from the parking lot. Once wide enough for cars to travel, the forest surrounding the trail has slowly begun to retake the path, and in many places the trail switches between doubletrack and singletrack. You'll be skirting fields of pumice and other volcanic refuse in between groves of fir trees for the first mile and a half, so sturdy shoes and ample sun protection are recommended. Enjoy the general descent to Lightning Spring, and stop for a moment to take in the sound of the water as it babbles away from the rim.

After stopping at the spring, you'll continue on your way, switchbacking for a while before reaching the Watchman Lava Flow, and a steep ridge. Luckily, the trail skirts the ridge while offering views of the 400-500" thick andesite formation. The budding geologist in your party will enjoy this portion!

Once you leave the ridge, the trail drops quickly and joins up with a small creek. You'll end up following the creek for the rest of your way to the PCT. The remainder of the trail is a steady downhill, so enjoy the scenery as you work your way down.

Keep an eye out for those with pack animals! This route is commonly used by PCT through hikers, and the trail is a short jaunt with access to viewpoints of the lake.

Flora & Fauna

Like much of Crater Lake, coniferous forests dominate the landscape. Fir and Hemlock line the trail in the upper portions, while lodgepoles take over in the south.

Contacts

Shared By:

Mikhaila Redovian

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 4 votes

#8669

Overall
  4.3 from 4 votes
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4 Star
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Trail Rankings

#268

in Oregon

#8,669

Overall
14 Views Last Month
2,028 Since Sep 11, 2015
Intermediate

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Photos

The view of Wizard Island from the Lightening Spring Trail.
Nov 22, 2015 near Crater…, OR
Snow covered mountains at Crater Lake
Mar 31, 2020 near Crater…, OR
A sunset view from the start of the Lightning Springs Trail.
Feb 25, 2016 near Crater…, OR
The best views of Crater Lake are had right at the beginning, before you start to descend the Lightning Trail.
Feb 25, 2016 near Crater…, OR

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Check-Ins

Jul 16, 2020
Bruce Hope
Aug 17, 2019
Minami Espiritu
Aug 11, 2016
Greg Owens
Aug 4, 2015
Matthew Dubrow
One of the best dispersed nights camping I've ever had and a welcomed change after coming in from Red Cone the day before. 8mi