Wizard Island Trail
Wizard Island is the main island in the middle of Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the country and one of the most pristine on earth. This lake was formed by the violent eruption and subsequent collapse of a volcano over 7,700 years ago. Wizard Island is the biggest island in the lake (the other being quite tiny), and a ferry runs to and from, giving hikers the chance to explore the 3.7 km out and back hike to the island’s top.
The Wizard Island Trail is rated as moderate and is suitable for most skill levels. Keep in mind that dogs are not allowed in the park. You’ll have to plan your hike around the ferry schedule, but we also advise checking the webcams to see if the lake is visible or not before visiting. It’s often shrouded in clouds, and you’ll want a clear view from the top. All of this information can be found on the NPS website.
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Route Description for Wizard Island Trail
Wizard Island Trail is the only route to the top of Wizard Island, the main island in Crater Lake. 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, the lake is quite the spectacle, and viewing it from the island is a unique treat.
Wizard Island is accessible by ferry, which usually runs from June through September. The park is open throughout the year, but you won’t be able to access this hike without help from the ferry. While you’re checking the schedule, make sure you take a look at the webcams on the NPS website, which can show whether the lake is covered in its usual cloud blanket or not. Ideally, you’d visit on a clear day for the best views.
Kids can complete this hike as long as they’re three years old or over. Two-year-olds and younger are not permitted on the ferry. Dogs are not permitted in the park. A note about winter visits, while this hike isn’t reachable in the winter, you’ll want to take care exploring the park. Certain roads will be closed seasonally. Additionally, there are significant snow cornices that form around the crater's rim, so keep your distance from the edge.
Take Cleetwood Cove Trail down to the boat landing. This is actually the steepest part of the entire hike, and it’s more difficult than what you’ll encounter on the island. So take your time, especially if you have kids with you.
Take the ferry at your designated time (normally, it runs between 9:45 am and 5:45 pm) and enjoy the ride out to the island. You can either book a quick, direct ferry or a more meandering ride that shows off the lake with the narration of a ranger.
When you land, take the trail that starts at the end of the dock. There’s plenty of signage. You’ll hike over rough volcanic rock, staying right at the fork.
You’ll climb up the cinder cone that forms the island, the trees beginning to thin. The footing becomes a bit loose here, but it’s nothing that’s too difficult to handle. You’ll hike through switchbacks and then wrap around to the top of the cone, following the rim of a crater called the Witches Cauldron.
You can hike into the cauldron on the obvious trails if you’d like. Check out the view of the lake, with The Watchman to the west and Cloudcap far to the east.
You’ll retrace your steps to the trailhead when you’re ready, where the ferry will pick you up and return you to the rim.
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.
How much does the Crater Lake Ferry cost?
Tickets are subject to change, but currently, adult tickets are $55 and child tickets are $37.
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 Wizard Island Trail
- The trails into the Witches Cauldron are steeper and looser than the rest of the hike, so skip them if you prefer sturdy footing.
- Remember to book your ferry ahead of schedule.
Getting to the Wizard Island Trail Trailhead
The trailhead for Wizard Island Trail is on the south side of the island.
Wizard Island Trail Elevation Graph
Weather ForecastCheck Area Weather
Wizard Island Trail Reviews
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