Discovery Point Trail
Discovery Point Trail is an easy, very scenic hiking route that follows the rim of the crater that holds Crater Lake. This crater was the result of an eruption and collapse of Mount Mazama around 7,700 years ago, forming the deepest lake in the United States, known for its color and clarity. This route follows the rim of the crater on a relaxed path, offering an excellent view of the lake.
The Discovery Point Trail conveniently begins from the Rim Village, making it an easy choice for visitors to the park. It runs to Discovery Point, one of the most popular viewpoints of the lake, and back to the village. This hike is great for all skill levels and ages, and it can be hiked most of the year, although hikers should stay away from the rim in winter months as cornices commonly develop.
View Discovery Point Trail on Map
- Map Data: ©OpenStreetMap
- Tiles: ©CyclOSM
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Route Description for Discovery Point Trail
Discovery Point Trail is one of the most popular trails in Crater Lake National Park, running from Rim Village along the crater to a viewpoint called Discovery Point. It’s an easy hike with excellent views, especially on clear days when the entire lake is visible.
Crater Lake was formed over 7,700 years ago when the Mazama volcano erupted and collapsed. The lake is now the deepest in the country (592 m) and one of the most pristine and clear in the world. Surrounded by mountains, it’s regarded as one of the clearest, bluest lakes in the world.
Discovery Point Trail can be hiked most of the year, but it’s best explored in the summertime for a few reasons. First, the lake is completely hidden by clouds about 50% of the time in the winter. You can check out the webcams on the park’s website to see if it’s visible. Secondly, snow cornices develop along the rim in the winter, making hiking more dangerous. Take advantage of the clear summer views if you can!
The park is open throughout the year, but some roads are closed in the winter. The Rim Village is the heart of the park, and it’s where your hike will begin. Our route begins from Rim Village Drive, but there are multiple points in the village where you can hop onto the path.
Head west to the Pacific Crest Trail. You might spot a thru-hiker here, often bound for the post office in the rim village for restocks of food and supplies. You’ll want to look for where the paved path becomes a dirt track. Hike northeast along the rim, approaching Discovery Point.
Discovery Point is where gold prospector John Wesley Hillman spotted Crater Lake in 1853, but of course, Native Americans had been living in the area of the lake for thousands of years already.
The trail is treed in at points, but you’ll get lovely breakthrough views as you hike. When you reach the point, enjoy the view of the lake, the crater rim, the mountains, and Wizard Island out in the water.
From the point, turn around and retrace your steps back to the village, perhaps taking another hike or heading down to the ferry to explore Wizard Island.
Hiking Route Highlights
Crater Lake National Park protects the unique Crater Lake, a body of water formed by the crater left over from the eruption and collapse of Mount Mazama over 7,700 years ago. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the country at 594 m deep, and it’s renowned for its clarity and deep blue color. It’s surrounded by the Southern Cascades, lending to its dramatic beauty. Hiking trails traverse the mountains around the lake and a summer ferry runs visitors to Wizard Island on the west side of the lake.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you swim in Crater Lake?
Yes, but it’s very cold! Bring a towel and warm clothes to change into after your swim.
Is Crater Lake National Park always open?
The park is open most days of the year, but services and roads close down in the winter months. We’d recommend visiting between mid-June and September if you’re able to.
Can you drink the water in Crater Lake?
Please don’t drink water from the lake. It’s not treated for human consumption and drinking it contradicts the park’s mission to preserve the lake.
Insider Hints for Discovery Point Trail
- There is a gift shop and a cafe in the village if you’d like a snack or souvenir before or after your hike.
- This trail can hang onto snow until July. Wear boots if you have them.
Getting to the Discovery Point Trail Trailhead
The trailhead for Discovery Point Trail is on Rim Village Drive.
Discovery Point Trail Elevation Graph
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Discovery Point Trail Reviews
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