Wizard Island

Cleetwood Cove

  • Easy (to Cleetwood Cove)
  • 2.2 miles round-trip
  • 700 feet elevation loss
  • Open late June to mid-October

  • Moderate (to Wizard Island summit)
  • 4.5 miles round-trip
  • 1460 feet elevation gain
  • Open early July to early September

The switchbacking trail down to Cleetwood Cove’s tour boat dock is the most popular path in Crater Lake National Park—and the only route to the lakeshore. Although the trail is “easy” by the standards of this book, the climb back up from the lakeshore can seem hot, steep, and difficult indeed if you are not used to hiking. Hikers who’d like to explore the inside of Crater Lake’s collapsed volcano more fully can take the boat tour and climb to Wizard Island’s summit crater. Pets are not allowed on park trails.

To drive here from …

Boat tours leave every 60 minutes between …

Gutsy swimmers sometimes brave the 50° F water at the dock’s rocky shore. Fishing has been permitted without a license ever since rangers realized that introduced trout and kokanee salmon are hurting the lake’s biological balance. Still, angling in this vast transparent pool is all but hopeless.

The roofless tour boats carry up to 40 passengers and an interpretive ranger. It’s a 45-minute ride to Wizard Island. The island is actually one of two cinder cones that erupted from the ruins of Mt. Mazama shortly after its cataclysmic collapse 7700 years ago. The other, Merriam Cone, was left under 486 feet of water after rain and melting snow gradually filled the lake. Wizard Island was named by Crater Lake’s early promoter William Steel, who thought the cone resembled a sorcerer’s hat. Although Steel helped win national park status, it’s lucky some of his development schemes were ignored. He not only pushed for a rim road and a lodge, but also an aerial tramway from the rim to the island’s top.

The trail on Wizard Island sets off through blocky black basalt lava …

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