Great Hike: Sun Notch Trail
The hike I chose is more a sentimental favorite for me and perhaps not for everyone. Sun Notch Trail is short (0.5 miles), relatively level, and not exactly full of sites to see. However, parts of the trail along the cliffs provide excellent views of Phantom Rock, a deliriously appealing island within Crater Lake. I’ve visited the park three times in the past few years and was never able to get close to Phantom Rock due to weather. This time on this trail I was practically on top of it while the morning sun made it shine. Finally I was able to photograph her in detail.
This park is all about vistas across the United States’ deepest and purest lake. Consequently, the primary road of the park tries to follow the perimeter of the crater and car pullouts with excellent views are abundant. In addition, the West Rim Drive has a trail all along the crater with especially good views of Wizard Island at all hours of the day. This stretch is open more of the year than East Rim Drive which at 18 miles is twice as long as West Rim Drive.
I hiked to two other types of viewpoints: water level and mountaintop.
Yesterday when I arrived I had time for one hike before it got dark. Coming in from the north and having access to the East Rim Drive I had little doubt where I’d go. For years I’d known of the only trail that went down and into the crater all the way to the water level. It’s called Cleetwood Cove Trail and actually delivers you to the shore of Crater Lake. Yesterday I finally hiked it and touched the lake’s waters!
Today I hiked to two lookout stations. The first lookout station was at the end of a 2.5 mile uphill hike that ascended 1,250 feet to the peak of Mount Scott. This is the highest point within the park and from this height of 8,929 feet you can see all of Crater Lake and great distances. Many of us just sat at the station and soaked up the splendor. The second lookout was Watchman Overlook which I biked to from the Rim Village. This hike was 1.6 miles long and climbed only 420 feet and the views were rewarding. Had I not felt sentiments for Phantom Rock, this hike might have taken the cake.
I’ve been thinking that someday I might want to ride around the rim by bike. As I mentioned above, I decided I’d bike the 3.8 mile stretch of West Rim Drive from the Rim Village to the Watchman Overlook and back again. My test ride was the equivalent of about one quarter the rim road’s total length. What did I learn? I learned that a 700 foot climb is a lot of work but it sure is easy to ride down. I learned that biking is more effort at 7,000 feet. I learned it will be tough to ride the whole loop but it would be doable with my folding bicycle. Some day I’ll have to give it a try.by