Hike of the week: Mt. Scott gives bird’s-eye view of Crater Lake
September 3, 2004
By BILL KETTLER
There’s a peak experience and a mountaintop view waiting for you at Crater Lake National Park.
Most people who visit Oregon’s only national park content themselves with a view from the rim. More intrepid folks walk down to the water’s edge to cruise the lake in an excursion boat. Precious few take the time to march to the summit of Mount Scott and peer down on the lake.
At 8,928 feet, Mount Scott is Oregon’s tenth-highest summit, but it gets relatively little notice perched up against the 7,000-foot rim of Crater Lake. It’s barely 1,000 vertical feet from the trailhead (at 7,900 feet) to the summit and a fire lookout tower.
The mountain is named for Levi Scott, one of the lesser-known Oregon pioneers. Scott came to Oregon in 1844 and helped develop the Applegate Trail into Southern Oregon. Scottsburg, a forgotten little town along the Umpqua River in Douglas County, also bears his name.
Late summer and early fall is the best time to visit if you want to reach the summit with dry feet. Snowfields may linger at this altitude into August.
To get there, take Highway 62 from Medford to Union Creek and follow it into the park. Turn left at the entrance station, and follow the road four miles to the park headquarters buildings. Turn right (east) onto East Rim Drive and follow it about 11 miles to the trailhead.
The trail starts along the remnants of an old road and wanders down to the mountain’s southwest face to avoid the loose rock that covers most of the north side. There are some whitebark pines and Shasta red firs at the base of the mountain, but most of the trees here are mountain hemlocks, easily identified by their droopy tips and short, small needles.
The trees give way to more primal stuff — rocks, pumice, ash — as the trail switchbacks up the mountain. There’s nothing technical about this “climb,” but make sure you wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water. The shoes will help you navigate the loose gravel and rocks. The water will keep you cool.
If you go on a sunny day, bring a hat and sunscreen. There’s plenty of fire in the sun at this altitude well into September.
The view from the top will make you glad you came. To fully appreciate the vista, bring a map to help identify all the landmarks you’ll see. There’s Mount Thielsen, Mount Bailey and Diamond Lake, Mount McLoughlin, Mount Shasta, Pelican Butte and the Klamath Basin, just to name the most well-known places you can see.
And then, of course there’s the lake and its celestial blue water. Bring your camera. From this vantage point, you may be able to crowd the whole perimeter of the lake into your viewfinder.
Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org