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Little Crater Lake Trail #500



0.3 mile 0.5 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 88' 27 m
Descent: -1' 0 m
High: 3,331' 1,015 m
Low: 3,243' 989 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 14% (8°)


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Trail shared by Kathleen Walker

Little Crater Lake Trail is a short easy hike to a spectacularly small (Crater Lake-like) blue lake.

Kathleen Walker

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · Wildflowers

Family Friendly This is a short, scenic interpretive trail to a really gorgeous small lake similar to its larger namesake lake.

This trail is usually closed by snow from mid to late December to late May. A Northwest Forest Pass or other valid trail pass is required at the trailhead. No swimming or wading and no dogs in Little Crater Lake. It muddies up the water badly.


Little Crater Lake Trail is an easy 1/3 of a mile long trail that takes you to the stunning small Little Crater Lake on a paved surface that is wheel chair friendly. The trail continues past the lake on a more rugged unpaved surface that ties into the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) on the north end of Timothy Lake.

The Little Crater Lake Trail begins in the day use area of Little Crater Campground in Little Crater Meadow. The wet meadow has grazing cattle fenced out to encourage the wildflowers. What it lacks in size (it looks like a small pond), it make up for in brilliant azure blue color and clarity. It is quite deep, and you can see clear to the bottom. Please do not try to get into the lake or swim or let your dog do so, since it muddies the very cold water. A quick hike or drive will take you to Timothy Lake which is a much better swimming alternative.

The source of the clear cold water is an artesian "blow hole" that has worked its way through soft volcanic rock. The water in the Little Crater Lake Campground (handpump is just past the entrance to the campground on your right) is also artesian based and some of the best tasting and potable water on the mountain.

Little Crater Lake Trail can be used to access the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the Timothy Lake Trail which makes for a nice 10 mile loop.

Flora & Fauna

Little Crater Meadow has a large variety of wetland plants and wildflowers. Dark purple of camas lilies, hot pink of shooting stars, and light blue of lupines will cover the meadows over the summer. Come fall, the combination of golden meadow grasses and dark red willows make for great photos. The forest is a combination of large Douglas fir, mountain hemlock, silver and noble firs, and large larch that turn gold in fall and lose their needles. There is a variety of hardwoods that also make for fall colors. Migratory birds and butterflies frequent the meadows around Little Crater Lake.

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May 29, 2019
Bree West
Jul 8, 2017
Owen Johnson

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