Hiking Project Logo

greenBlue Crater Lake and Hemlock Pond

  4.0 ( 6 ) Favorite


3.2 mile 5.1 kilometer loop


Ascent: 392' 120 m
Descent: -389' -119 m
High: 1,464' 446 m
Low: 1,208' 368 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 18% (10°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Kristen Arendt

A lovely hike around the blue waters of Crater Lake and through the ridge-top forest to Hemlock Pond.

Kristen Arendt

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · Swimming · Views · Wildlife

Family Friendly A manageable distance with some rolling hills and beautiful lakes to explore.


This hike gives visitors a glimpse into the history of the landscape as well as the opportunity to explore some of the park's most beautiful lakes.

Need to Know

Restrooms located at the trailhead. Due to the remnants of old road traces in the area, the route can be a bit confusing so stop and pick up a trail map or use the Hiking Project mobile app to make sure you stay on track.


Start your hike from the Crater Lake parking area and head southwest on the Crater Lake Trail where you'll see the beautiful handiwork of the prehistoric Wisconsin Glacier. Formed during the Pleistocene over 22,000 years ago, Crater Lake is impressive for its cool, clear waters. Also, fantastic vistas of the surrounding hemlock forests can be seen from its prominent, ice-scoured, rocky shore.

At just over half a mile, the trail will intersect the Appalachian Trail, where hikers will turn right and continue on this section of the AT for about half a mile before rejoining with the Crater Lake Trail. Take a left on the Crater Lake Trail and begin a steady descent from Crater Lake northwest toward your second destination, Hemlock Pond.

At about 1.5 miles, the Crater Lake Trail will reach a junction with the Hemlock Pond Trail. Take a left to start the loop around Hemlock Pond. After a short jaunt through the lush eastern hemlock forests for which this trail was named, you'll hike along a short segment of the Blue Mountain Lake Trail (Outer Loop) which is used to complete the loop of the Hemlock Pond Trail. This section of doubletrack lasts for about a quarter mile before hikers turn right to rejoin the Hemlock Pond Trail.

Hikers will enjoy pristine blue waters and a lush, eastern hemlock forest as you relax in solitude along the Hemlock Pond Trail. If you have time, maybe even dip your toes in the pond's cool, clear waters. Along the way, the trail surface is a mixture of easily-navigable roots, small rocks, and smooth-treaded dirt.

After completing the loop around the Hemlock Pond, visitors can either return via the Crater Lake Trail, taking a left at the junction with the AT to stay on the northern portion of the Crater Lake Trail to complete the loop of the lake before returning to the trailhead. There is also a great picnic area located here so pack some snacks or a lunch to enjoy after you finish your hike.

Flora & Fauna

This area is rich with tall, majestic eastern hemlock. White oak, red maple, shagbark hickory, chestnut, and northern red oak can also be seen along the trail.

History & Background

Crater Lake is a glacial lake that was formed nearly twenty-two thousand years ago after the retreat of the Wisconsin Glacier. This area originally attracted developers in the mid-1900s, when this was a budding vacation community. This community is now defunct and the area is now more reminiscent of it's glacial past than a resort community.

Hiked this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Dogs Allowed

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow hikers know what's here.


Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In


Jun 30, 2019
David Schuster
This is a great hike. Careful on the orange trail. It can be difficult if you have good shoes on or if moisture is present. 3.2mi — 2h 00m
Jun 15, 2018
Mike G
Wonderful hike with the kids with very few people encountered along the way. Kids held a small wasp nest and saw a wasp eating a struggling dragonfly.
Jun 3, 2018
Roger Boywerk
Dec 19, 2015
Jessica Ricci

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 6 votes


  4.0 from 6 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Featured Hike Rankings


in New Jersey


205 Views Last Month
3,347 Since Jul 7, 2016
Easy/Intermediate Easy/Intermediate



Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking