Lightning Spring Trail

This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
13.5 km
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
396 m
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Directions to Trailhead

Lightning Spring Trail is one of the longest hikes you can do in Crater Lake National Park, leading from the carter’s edge to the PCT and back. However, you don’t need to go far on this trail to enjoy its highlights, the main one being Lightning Spring Backcountry Campsite, a very pretty place to pitch your tent. You can go as far as you like on this route before turning back. Expect light traffic and moderate difficulty.

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Route Description for Lightning Spring Trail

Lightning Spring Trail begins and ends at the crater edge in Crater Lake National Park, traveling west to its turnaround point where it meets the PCT. This route is often used to access the Lightning Spring Backcountry Campsite, which is a very pretty campsite. It’s rated as moderately difficult and is suitable for strong beginners and better.

Hikers who don’t want to or can’t complete the entire hike can turn around at any point–there isn’t really a viewpoint at the turnaround point, so you won’t miss too much by tailoring your distance.

From the trailhead on W Rim Drive, take the route heading roughly west. You’ll descend a short distance at first. The spur trail to the campsite breaks off to your left. You'll weave back and forth across a descending slope, crossing the creek several times. The route roughly follows the creek downhill to the junction with the PCT. From here, turn back and retrace your steps.

Getting to the Lightning Spring Trail Trailhead

The trailhead for Lightning Spring Trail is on W Rim Drive.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Lightning Springs Backcountry Campsite

  • When to do


  • Pets allowed


  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage


  • Crowd Levels


  • Route Type

    Out and back

Lightning Spring Trail Elevation Graph

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