Cleetwood Cove Trail Crater Lake National Park

Not sure which of the various hikes to do while you’re at Crater Lake National Park? Definitely put Cleetwood Cove Trail on your list! This trail takes you right down to the lake!

crater lake.

Getting To The Trailhead

The Cleetwood Cove path is one of many scenic Pacific Northwest places to visit located in southwestern Oregon. The trailhead itself is 4.5 miles east of the junction of East Rim Road and North Entrance Road along the Crake Lake National Park Rim Road.

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It’s important to note that the North Entrance closes around November 1st. However, the South and West entrances on Highway 62 are open year-round. If you’re going to go in the winter, chains or snow tires might be required.

The Hike

The Cleetwood Cove Trail is the only footpath that takes you directly to the waters of Crater Lake. This is a well maintained trail with intermediate/moderate inclines.

There are certainly some steep sections that will leave you a bit breathless so be prepared. But the switchbacks along the trail help to ensure you’re not just walking straight up to gain your 700 feet of elevation on the way back up.

The walk down is about a mile. The well-shaded path takes you through beautiful pine trees. Along the trail, there are various openings in the trees that offer you stunning views of the lake as you head down to the bottom.

view of crater lake from cleetwood cove trail.

As you make your way down, there are a few benches to rest and enjoy the views along the trail. These benches make great places to sip some much needed water and have a snack!

bench along the trail with view of crater lake.

After about a mile, you’ll make it to the waters of Crater Lake! From there, you can enjoy the beautiful views of the deepest lake in the U.S. from the water’s edge. It makes for a great place for some pictures!

standing on rock along lake shoreline.
Enjoying the views at the bottom.

After enjoying the lake, you’ll have to make your way back up to the top. To be honest, it’s definitely a bit tiring. But, with plenty of rests, water, and snacks, it’s definitely doable!

standing along cleetwood cove trail with lake behind.
Smiling through the breathlessness as I made my way back up from the cove!

Things to Do At The Bottom

Once you make it to the bottom, there’s more than just pretty views to enjoy. Below is a list of the various activities that await you at the lake!

Boat Tours

One reason the hike to the bottom is so worth it is because there are boat tours to Wizard Island. Wizard Island is a 763-foot cinder cone created when Crater Lake first filled with water after the volcano collapsed.

If you’re looking to do the boat tour, you’ll want to do this hike in the summer months. It’s a great way to enjoy some breathtaking views of the lake.

view of island in crater lake from cleetwood cove trail.
Wizard Island at Crater Lake National Park.


Another popular thing to do at the bottom is swimming! The crystal clear water makes for a great spot to go for a swim in the warmer months and on a hot summer day. Only bathing suits and basic clothing may be worn in the water. Diving is not permitted.

If you’re planning to swim, note that the water temperature tends to be on the cooler side. Be sure to have warm, dry clothes to change into after your swim if you do choose to swim in the lake!

water with mountains in the back.
Views from the water’s edge at the bottom.


Crater Lake also is a great spot to go fishing! This spot is one of the premier fly fishing destinations in the world. Fish along the rocky shoreline of the deepest lake in the U.S. to catch plenty of fish. Some of the fish you can expect to catch are Rainbow trout and Kokanee Salmon.

Why Hike The Cleetwood Cove Trail

If you’re looking to get up close and personal with Crater Lake, this is the trail to hike while you’re there! The trail takes you right to the shore of Crater Lake where you can swim or take a boat to Wizard Island on the lake. The hike isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it!


How difficult is the Cleetwood Cove Trail?

While the hike is rated as moderate on AllTrails, don’t let that trick you into thinking it’s easy. The trail itself is steep and strenuous. But, it is marked moderate because of the various switchbacks on the way up and down. Despite the switchbacks, you’ll still be a bit winded as you make your way back up to your car.

How long does it take to hike the Cleetwood Cove Trail?

On average, it takes about 1.5 to 2.5 hours. It depends on your pace and how often you stop to take breaks.

Are dogs allowed on the Cleetwood Cove Trail?

Unfortunately, no. You cannot even carry the pet along the trail.

Are there facilities?

Yes, there are bathrooms in the parking lot as well as at the bottom of the trail.


Spending time in Oregon and want to visit some other scenic spots? We recommend these.

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