Trails I’ve Hiked: Castle Crest Wildflower Trail At Crater Lake National Park
Though short, at not quite a half-mile, the Castle Crest Wildflower Trail offers a refreshing walk through a cool, colorful corner of Crater Lake National Park.
Located less than a quarter-mile from the start of East Rim Drive near park headquarters, this quiet nature trail with its gurgling creek offers both the chance to stretch your legs and to take a closer look at some of the park’s colorful vegetation.
The trail, built by the Boy Scouts in 1929, is said to take you through an area with more than 200 species of wildflowers. There are pinkish monkeyflowers, purple lupines, yellow buttercups, purple monkshood, and blazing red paintbrush and skyrocket gilia.
When the Scouts built the trail, they created an oval-shaped loop that crosses the main spring-fed creek four times, as well as some seeps and springs feeding into it. For the crossings, wooden bridges or native flagstone stepping stones help keep your feet dry.
Depending on which direction you head from the start, the trail leads you first either onto a dry slope pitched down towards the meadow in the middle of the loop, or up onto a slope of Castle Crest kept moist by snowmelt and springs.
The forests that rim the trail count Mountain hemlock, Lodgepole pine, Shasta red fir, and subalpine fir among their trees.
For photographers, the trail catches the best light in the morning, with afternoon bringing creeping shade.
Careful observers might spot an American dipper, or Water Ouzel, in the creek, or rufous hummingbirds attracted by the Skyrocket gilia’s trumpet-shaped flowers.