Pacific Crest Trail

  • Hiking the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail

    The Pacific Crest Trail stretches from the Mexican to Canadian borders along the mountainous crest of the Cascades and Sierra Nevada. Thirty-three miles pass through Crater Lake National Park, offering through-hikers magnificent views of the lake. Read more about this amazing experience that has inspired thousands of hikers and spawned books and movies on the PCTA website.

    Photo by Rob Mutch
    Photo by Rob Mutch

    “If you have never gazed down on Crater Lake, reform! Visit it for your own good.” These were the words of J. Hazard in his 1946 book describing Pacific Crest Trail. At that time, Crater Lake was the finishing point on the Oregon Skyline trail. Today this 400 mile stretch from Mount Hood to Crater Lake is the oldest section of the Pacific Crest Trail. The idea for a trail on the west coast was first proposed in the 1920s, but it was not until 1972 that all 2,659 miles of the trail were completed and hiked for the first time.

    The first National Scenic Trail was the Appalachian Trail, running from Georgia to Maine. Next came the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Currently, There are 11 national scenic trails, 19 national historic trails and over 1,000 national recreation trails throughout the country. Together the 30 scenic and historic trails total nearly 60,000 miles.

    Crater Lake is one of seven National Parks through which the PCT passes. Hikers who wish to stay overnight in Crater Lake National Park must get a backcountry permit. Permits may be obtained at the Rim Visitor Center in Rim Village, or at the Steel Information Center in the Park Headquarters area. Alternatively, PCT through-hikers may sign the trail register as they enter Crater Lake National Park. Through-hikers who have signed the trail register do not need to obtain a backcountry permit.
    In June 1995, an alternate trail opened which brings hikers right up to the rim of Crater Lake. Coming from the south, the trail ascends the Dutton Creek trail to the rim, then follows the edge of the caldera for six miles with spectacular views. It then parallels the road from North Junction to Grouse Hill and rejoins the PCT.
    Backcountry Regulations – No pets are permitted in the backcountry of Crater Lake National Park, including along the PCT. Although information distributed by the Pacific Crest Trail Conference may state that pets are allowed on all segments of the PCT, pets are not allowed on any section of the trail in Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, Lassen Volcanic, Yosemite, or Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks.

    Back country Camp sites and PCT trail within Crater Lake National Park

    You may move or zoom in or out of the map below.



    To reduce impact on the park’s natural resources, camp at one of the park’s designated camp sites: Grouse Hill, Red Cone, Lightning Springs or Dutton Creek. No camping is permitted on the alternate trail along the caldera rim. Camp sites are located at either end of the alternate trail at Dutton Creek and Grouse Hill.

    Showers and Supplies – For those in need of showers or supplies, there is a fee campground and camper store at Mazama Village in the southern part of the park. It can be reached from the PCT by taking the Annie Springs cutoff below Dutton Creek.

    Postal Services – Mail can be sent to the Mazama Village Store at Mazama Campground, or to the Crater Lake Post Office at Park Headquarters.
    At the post office, mail will be kept only for 30 days. If you cannot arrive in time to pick up your mail, let the post office know by calling (541) 594-3115. Mail cannot be picked up on Sundays or after 3:00 pm.
    Do not mail perishables. Liquid stove fuel may not be sent through U.S. Mail. Packages may not exceed 108 inches in length and girth or weigh more than 70 pounds each. All PCT hiker boxes must have a return address.

    Send mail or supplies to:

    Your Name, PCT Hiker
    Mazama Village Store
    (USPS:) P.O. Box 158
    (UPS:) 700 Mazama Village Dr.
    Crater Lake, OR 97604
    Expected arrival date


    Your Name, PCT Hiker
    General Delivery
    Crater Lake National Park
    Crater Lake, OR 97604
    Expected arrival date

    You are welcome to mail non-perishable items from the Crater Lake post office to a future drop-off point. On the mailing label, write:

    Your Name
    General Delivery
    Post Office
    City, State ZIP

    Day Hiking on the PCT – Short sections of the PCT may be completed within the park as day hikes. None are loop trails, so hikers must backtrack to their vehicles.

    A long day hike is possible, but to do this, hikers need to have two vehicles. The PCT crosses Highway 62 south and west of the Annie Springs Entrance. It crosses the North Entrance Road in the Pumice Desert area. The total day hike covers 18 miles.

    Distances between points in the park:  
    Highway 62 to Dutton Creek Trail Junction 2.1 miles
    Dutton Creek Junction to Lightning Springs Junction 4.2 miles
    Lightning Springs Junction to Crater Springs Junction 6.8 miles
    Crater Springs Junction to Boundary Springs Junction 1.6 miles
    Boundary Springs Junction to North Entrance Road 3.2 miles
    Average hiking time, Hwy 62 to North Entrance Road 7½ hours

     Water Sources – Water is scarce in Crater Lake’s backcountry. In a typical year, many sources are dry by late July or early August. Hikers should carry at least one gallon of water per person.

    Possible water sources include Red Cone Springs, Lightning Springs, and major branches of Dutton, Trapper, Bybee, North Copeland, and South Copeland Creeks.



    Pacific Crest Trail alternate route along the west rim

    Details on overnight parking at Headquarters for hiking

    Munson Valley overnight parking


    Please remember to practice “leave no trace outdoor ethics” when you are out on Crater Lake National Park’s trails…and have fun!

    Where’s what we have to say as well.


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