The Watchman

The Watchman's view of Wizard Island

  • Easy (to Watchman Lookout)
  • 1.6 miles round-trip
  • 420 feet elevation gain
  • Open mid-July through October

  • Easy (past Hillman Peak)
  • 4 miles round-trip
  • 250 feet elevation gain

High on Crater Lake’s western rim, The Watchman’s lookout tower commands an eagle’s-eye view across the amazingly blue lake to Wizard Island. The steep little climb up The Watchman is one of the most popular paths in the national park. It’s also short enough that you might want to extend the hike by taking an adjacent 2-mile path around Hillman Peak to a viewpoint above the Devils Backbone. Pets are banned on all park trails.

The Watchman won its name in 1886, when the U.S. Geological Survey set up a watch point here while surveyors in a boat sounded the lake with a reel of piano wire. Other names that stuck from that 1886 expedition are Cleetwood Cove (for the boat) and Dutton Cliff (for its captain). The survey recorded a maximum lake depth of 1996 feet—a figure that has since been corrected by sonar to 1943 feet.

The Watchman Trail begins …

If you’d like more exercise and different views, hike …

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon.