Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
2,019.00 ft (615.39 m)
Trail type
11.50 mi (18.51 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Crater Lake Alternate is an alternate section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) located in Crater Lake National Park.  The alternate diverges from the PCT at the Dutton Creek Trail junction (northbound mile 1823) and rejoins the official PCT at northbound mile 1839.2. This is a popular route for anyone interested in getting closer to the rim of the lake and exploring the surrounding area. 

This alternate route takes you directly into the heart of the national park. It is a popular choice among long distance hikers despite its potential for crowds and lack of solitude. There is no substitute for hiking along the caldera rim of Crater Lake, a unique experience full of incredible views, opportunities for exploration, and the opportunity to learn about the unique volcanic landscape of the region. 

From the PCT, the Dutton Creek Trail leads east to Crater Lake / Rim Village. The trail follows Dutton Creek and leads through a pine forest with mountain views. It ends at the southwest corner of Crater Lake, right at the Rim Village Cafe, a nice place for a snack or a break. You will then follow the Rim Trail north along the caldera rim of Crater Lake's west side, eventually rejoining the PCT north of the lake.


If you choose this alternate as a day trip, you may need to arrange for a shuttle or complete an out-and-back route (over 20 miles in total). Here are some potential start / end points for shuttling (the route described here is northbound, however, it can be completed in either direction):

  • Highway 62 PCT Trailhead - This trailhead is 2 miles south of the Dutton Creek Trail.

  • Mazama Village - Mazama Village has camping and parking as well as a spur trail that connects to the PCT south of Dutton Creek.

  • Rim Village - This option has you starting from the southwest corner of Crater Lake and cutting out the Dutton Creek Trail.

  • Highway 209 / Red Cone Trailhead - This is the northern trailhead, which can be used as a starting or ending point.


  • Camping is not permitted along the Rim Trail.


Crater Lake National Park


Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Open Year-round



Volcanic landscape. Scenic lake.


Permits required for national park. National park can get busy.

Trailhead Elevation

6,097.00 ft (1,858.37 m)

Highest point

7,737.00 ft (2,358.24 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Geologically significant
Near lake or river
Flushing toilets
Guided tours

Typically multi-day


Permit required


Permit self-issue on site



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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