Cleetwood Cove Trail is the only legal access to the lake. The trail runs from the north side of rim down to the lake at the boat dock. In about 1.1 miles, the trail gains/loses about 700 feet of elevation. It's not so bad going down, but you will definitely feel it coming back up. We hiked this trail down and back up to catch the boat tour and Wizard Island Tour, probably the most common reason for hiking this trail. But even if you're not going on the tour, it's worth it to get down to the lake and touch the chilly blue waters of Crater Lake. Just take your time, particularly when going back up, and bring plenty of water. If you reach the bottom and don't have enough water, you can get a refill from the lake. Normally, I would never drink untreated water, but a ranger on the tour told us that the water in Crater Lake is clean enough to drink. Not only that, but it's very cold and tasted much better than tap water from the hotel. Much too cold for me to go swimming, but if you don't mind chilly water, this is the only spot to take a dip in the lake. Once again, this is the only legal way to access the lake. The drop from the rim to the lake is extremely steep and if you attempt to go down anywhere else, there's a good chance you could die. And if you survive, expect a citation from the park rangers, so stick to the Cleetwood Cove Trail.
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