Garfield Peak Trail

Garfield Peak Trail

Crater Lake National Park

Type: Out and back dayhike
Distance: 3.4 miles (5.5 km) round trip
Cumulative Elevation Gain/Loss: 1170 feet (357 m)
Date Visited: Monday, July 31, 2017
Garfield Peak Trail Map (KTNP)

On our final day in Crater Lake National Park, we checked out of Crater Lake Lodge, and simply walked to our trail. Garfield Peak Trail begins just off of Rim Village Drive adjacent to the lodge, though we wouldn’t reach the trailhead sign for 0.2 miles. With easy access from the lake’s south rim, the trail is convenient and popular.

Garfield Peak was named after James Rudolph Garfield, who was Secretary of the Interior when the park was established in 1902. Fun historical fact: this James Garfield was the son of James A. Garfield, the 20th U.S. president.

The 3.4 mile trail to Garfield Peak is often closed (or partially closed) due to snow, even late in the season. It was July 31, and we would be able to hike 1.4 miles of the 1.7 miles (one way), so the final 0.3 miles to the peak was still off-limits. I’m glad that didn’t deter us, as there is so much to see on this trail.

Crater Lake: View from Rim Near Lodge
View of Crater Lake as we began our hike!
Crater Lake: Garfield Peak Trail Sign
After 0.2 miles, we spotted the trailhead sign for Garfield Peak

Garfield Peak Trail

The best feature of Garfield Peak Trail is its location next to Crater Lake. Other trails, like Watchman Peak, are adjacent to the lake – but Garfield Peak Trail is designed to allow better and more consistent views of the lake than any other trail (barring Cleetwood Cove, perhaps). It also provides views of geological features, wildflowers, the lodge, and more.

Garfield Peak Trail is a straight shot up to the top – no intersections. After a short walk, we passed the trail sign, then hiked through some pine trees before reaching an open area. The trail ascended until we came to a bench with a great view of Crater Lake. Some ground squirrels ran around as we took a break and enjoyed the view.

The trail weaved back and forth through switchbacks as we continued. Though the trail route and rock formations blocked our view of Crater Lake in some spots, it always seemed to be waiting for us a few moments later. Wildflowers like Indian paintbrush and fireweed bloomed along the trail.

Crater Lake: Open Meadow Area at Start of Garfield Peak Hike
Open area near the start of Garfield Peak Trail
Crater Lake: Bench Along Garfield Peak Trail
Garfield Peak Trail offers panoramic views of Crater Lake throughout the hike
Crater Lake: Ground Squirrel on Garfield Peak Trail
Golden-mantled ground squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis)
Crater Lake: Switchbacks on Garfield Peak Trail
Lots of switchbacks
Crater Lake: Indian Paintbrush Along Garfield Peak Trail
A variety of Indian paintbrush

On our right, we had scenic views of the mountains and Crater Lake Lodge (which we highly recommend, by the way). The dusty trail passed some rock formations, and on the other side we got another view of Crater Lake.

Looking out, we spotted a small white dot on the lake – a tour boat! It reminded us of our adventure the previous day, when we took a boat tour of Crater Lake. We also caught a glimpse of Union Peak, another hike in the park we wished we had time for.

Crater Lake: Lodge from Garfield Peak Trail
Crater Lake Lodge
Crater Lake: Union Peak View from Garfield Peak
Union Peak, which we hope to hike on our next visit
Crater Lake: Ascending Garfield Peak Trail
Garfield Peak Trail…not as treacherous as it appears
Crater Lake: Boat on Lake with Mt. Thielsen in background
A tour boat glides across Crater Lake as we admire Mt. Thielsen

Snow Time

Looking out over the lake, we saw a large snowfield below the rim. As the snow melts, it forms waterfalls that fill the lake. But wait – there’s more! Back on the trail, we approached another snowfield that we’d have to cross. The park had posted signs to direct hikers through the snow.

By this time, other hikers had worn a trail through the snow that was easy enough to follow, even without signs. It was a bit slippery, and we used our trekking poles for balance as we hiked through this section.

Crater Lake: Snowfield On Garfield Peak Trail
A large snowfield en route to Garfield Peak
Crater Lake: Crossing a Snow Field in July on Garfield Peak Trail
Crossing a massive snowfield in July

Finally across the snowfield, we stepped back onto soil. Crater Lake came into view again, as did Phantom Ship and Mount Scott. Further down the trail, we were stopped by snow again. This time, there was no going through or around it. A sign announced that the trail was closed beyond that point. In a week or two, the trail would probably be open to the summit, but this was the end for us.

It was disappointing to stop short of the summit, but Garfield Peak is still one of my favorite trails in the park. We were lucky to hike it at all, since it had been closed when we arrived a week prior. Garfield Peak Trail is unique due to its panoramic views of Crater Lake and various landmarks along the way. We really enjoyed this trail, and it solidified many of the memories we had made on our trip to Crater Lake.

Crater Lake: View of Lake and Phantom Ship from Garfield Peak Trail
A view of Phantom Ship
Crater Lake: Garfield Peak Trail Closed Because of Snow
We made it – almost – to the top

Garfield Peak Trail

Garfield Peak Trail Map (1:11,000)

Dates: Monday, July 31, 2017
Out and back dayhike
Total Distance:
3.4 miles (5.5 km) round trip
Cumulative Elevation Gain/Loss:
1170 feet (357 m)
Time: 2.5 hours round trip for us, not including the last 0.6 miles (round-trip), which was closed due to snow.
Trail Markings: None
Difficulty: Moderate
Crowds: Moderate
Water: Views of Crater Lake, and snow if you like
Highlights: Views, Wildflowers, Rock Formations
Directions to Crater Lake Lodge Parking: Google Maps Directions

Trail Directions

  • Mile 0.0 – Park near the lodge, then follow the paved path east along the rim of Crater Lake.
  • 0.2 – The trail transitions to a dirt path at a trail sign for Garfield Peak. While the sign says 3.4 miles round-trip, that distance begins at the lodge.
  • 1.7 – You’ve arrived at the top of Garfield Peak (snow permitting)! Enjoy, then turn around and go back the way you came.
  • 3.4 – Back at Crater Lake Lodge




Elevation Graph

Interactive Map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.