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Sun Notch

Crater Lake

Southern Oregon Cascades, Oregon

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Sun Notch

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  • While the 400,000-year-old formation may appear small from above, take notice of the centuries-old trees sprouting from it's rocky tiers and remember the island is actually as tall as a 16-story building.- Sun Notch
  • A view of Mount Thielsen across the lake to the north (9,182').- Sun Notch
  • Another little notch between the trees offers a glimpse west toward Wizard Island's conical, tree-covered slopes.- Sun Notch
  • Sun Notch's sun-drenched pumice meadow.- Sun Notch
  • Spy west through the trees to spot Wizard Island across the caldera's lake.- Sun Notch
  • The brick-red layers of Dutton Cliff from Sun Notch's pumice meadow.- Sun Notch
  • Peek through the trees to find the PhantomShip nestled in Chaski Bay along Crater Lake's East Rim Drive.- Sun Notch
  • - Sun Notch
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great views. Unique geology. Easy walk. Benches.
Cons: 
None.
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Region:
Southern Oregon Cascades, OR
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

While you can catch a glimpse of the oft-concealed Phantom Ship from a crowded pullout Crater Lake's East Rim Drive, you'll get a more intimate and secluded perspective on its western face on the short, easy walk up the Sun Notch Trail.

To find the hike, look for an unmarked parking area that is a 4-mile drive west of the Phantom Ship Overlook (which is located at the junction of East Rim Drive and the dead end Pinnacles Road).  Follow the trail a short distance as it gradually climbs through a forest of mountain hemlock and spills into an open meadow at a trail junction. Head east or west as the trail loops around the pumice meadow beneath the brick red-flecked crags of Mount Mazama's insides.

Those looming rocks are the base of the Applegate Peak ridge to the west and the Dutton Cliff ridge to the east, and the U-shaped valley between, which allows views of Crater Lake's minor island, was carved by glaciers that once flowed down Mazama's sides.

New views appear with every step, whether they are of the mountains around you, the pointy tip of Mount Thielsen across the lake to the north, the tree-covered slopes of the conical Wizard Island to the west, or the sharp spires of the Phantom Ship piercing the glassy, azure waters in the Chaski Bay directly below you.  It's a pretty awe-inspiring walk considering it's the closest you'll get to the Phantom Ship without actually taking a boat tour.

The 400,000-year-old formation may seem miniature from Sun Notch, but note the scale provided by the trees that sprout from it's rocky tiers and consider that the island actually rises more than 160 feet above the water (or equal to the height of a 16-story building). Composed of erosion resistant volcanic andesite, the sailboat-shaped outcropping is the oldest observable lava formation in the caldera. The island is the lake's Galapagos, hosting a diverse crop of seven different tree species that is home to colonies of violet green swallows as well as other transients (like the ubiquitous Clark's nutcracker), and several varieties of wildflowers and brightly colored lichens—oranges, reds, yellows—which indicate pure air quality.

Take a snack or a good book as several benches invite you to sit, relax and enjoy the serene splendor. The hike is one of those rare but beautiful trips—for very little effort, you are are handsomely rewarded.

Note: The trail is often covered in snow from October to early July.

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(5 within a 30 mile radius)

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(24 within a 30 mile radius)

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