Best Easy Hikes to Explore Crater Lake & Mount Rainier
The beautiful Pacific Northwest is so welcoming and relaxing
We spent a week in the beautiful, scenic, and peaceful Pacific Northwest exploring Crater Lake and Mount Rainier National Parks. In mid-July temperatures were in the 80s, with clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine. Wildflowers lined the roadsides and displayed a brilliant array of colors!
"Naches Peak Loop was by far our favorite hike! Wow! You witness everything in one single trail, capped with stunning views of Mount Rainier itself."
We began our journey in Southern Oregon. To the North of Crater Lake National Park we witnessed Salt Creek and Toketee waterfalls. Both were magnificent, but the setting for Toketee Falls was truly stunning. Inside the national park the main attraction was Crater Lake itself. The vivid, deep blue of the lake is truly mesmerizing. Our favorite vantage point was from the Sun Notch - Phantom Ship overlook point. Another great vantage point is at the Sinnott Memorial Overlook near Rim Village. We also highly recommend driving the scenic East Rim Drive in the park.
Next we were off to Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. The lush, green forests of Washington state never disappoint. Our favorite hike in the park was, without a doubt, Naches Peak Loop trail. Take the trail clockwise for stunning views of Mount Rainier! We traversed snow-covered hillsides, lake views, rugged mountain vistas, and many wildflower fields as well. The Trail of the Shadows, around a scenic meadow, afforded us much wildlife viewing. And the roadside trails to Christine Falls and Narada Falls are an absolute must do. And Stevens Canyon Road in the park was richly adorned with all manner of wildflowers.
We love the Pacific Northwest of our country. We love the beautiful green forests, fresh air, and stunning vistas. If you have never been, you absolutely must go! It is truly a source of comfort and rejuvenation for the weary soul.
Naches Peak Loop
(Mount Rainier, 3.5 miles, 770 feet elevation)
This was by far our favorite hike! Wow! You witness everything in one single trail, capped with stunning views of Mount Rainier itself. Snow fields, lakes, wildflowers, beautiful mountain and valley views, this trail has it all. Parking is at the Tipsoo Lake recreation area. As mentioned previously, take the loop trail clockwise from the North so Mount Rainier will emerge in front of you as you turn South and then head West back to the parking lot.
(Crater Lake, 0.5 miles, 115 feet elevation)
A relatively short hike with a big payoff, the Sun Notch loop offers multiple scenic views of Crater Lake and the Phantom Ship rock island. It's also much less crowded than the visitors center areas.
Salt Creek Falls
(Southern Oregon, 1 mile, 223 feet elevation)
Ranked as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state of Oregon, Salt Creek Falls drops 286 feet, and is relatively easy to access from its overlook point up above.
(Crater Lake, 0.5 miles, minimal elevation)
If you are searching for wildflower meadows in Crater Lake National Park, this is the place to go.
(Southern Oregon, 1 mile, 111 feet elevation)
A beautiful hike through lush green forest, this trail is very well maintained with stairs and railing. The waterfall may only be 120 feet in height, but it's surroundings make this one of the most dramatic waterfalls in the state of Oregon.
Lady of the Woods
(Crater Lake, 0.7 miles, 100 feet elevation)
This is a scenic forest trail behind the visitor’s center. We recommend you find a place to sit and rest on the trail so you can absorb the sights, sounds, and smells of nature.
Grove of the Patriarchs
(Mount Rainier, 1.5 miles, minimal elevation)
Majestic trees, cliffs of ferns, and a suspension bridge over the river all await you on this popular trail.
Christine Falls overlook
Just off the road, you can hike down a few feet to watch the powerful lower falls plummet beneath the stone bridge above.
(Mount Rainier, 0.2 miles, 100 feet elevation)
A beautiful, wide, cascading waterfall spraying you with mist awaits at this roadside stop.
Trail of the Shadows
(Mount Rainier, 0.7 miles, minimal elevation)
This trail encircles a lush green meadow. Early morning wildlife is abundant here. And a vantage point out in the meadow offers a great view of Mount Rainier as well.