5 Best Things to Do in Little Crater Lake (Oregon)

the view from the pier

Little Crater Lake is one of the most clear in the world. It is located within the Mount Hood National Forest, about an hour and a half southeast of Portland.

Although July and August are considered the most beautiful months here, the lake is captivating at any time of the year.

It is often described as being one of the most beautiful secret places in the United States because many people haven’t even heard of it.

Its crystal clear topaz blue water is irresistible, but it is not suitable for swimming due to its extremely low freezing temperature of 34ºF (about 1-2ºC).

More from Oregon (U.S.):

15 Best Things to Do in Mount Hood National Forest

1. Take a lot of pictures

wooden pier
Wooden Pier by Bonnie Moreland/Flickr

Little Crater Lake definitely ranks among the most photogenic places in North America, and for this reason, it is deeply recommended to take a lot of photos while you are here.

And don’t rush to leave! Spend as much time as you can in this magical place.

If you want to take the best photo, you should go to the small wooden pier, and don’t forget to experiment with the angle and with the light.

Such a beautiful place is a great rarity, and that’s why it is recommended to free up enough space on your camera in advance.

2. Enjoy the view from the pier

the view from the pier
The view from the pier by Celeste Ramsay/Flickr

The small pier on the shore of Little Crater Lake gives a very good idea about what the small pond looks like.

From here you can see how clear the water actually is.

Although the bottom of the lake is about 45 to 51 feet (14 – 15 meters) below the surface, you can easily see everything in detail.

The pier reveals that in fact the lake has the shape of a tube, and its shores descend steeply down to the bottom.

Because the water is icy cold, there are no fish or other aquatic life forms.

3. Look at the information board

the information board
The information board by Minh-Kiet Callies/Flickr

Most tourists don’t even notice the information boards, signs and panels when visiting a tourist attraction.

This is why we would like to remind you not to forget to look at the interpretation panel on the shore of the lake.

In fact, it explains very easily and with graphics the origin of the body of water.

As you can see, Little Crater Lake is not a real crater. It is rather a typical example of an artesian well.

The spring on the bottom is a permanent source of water, so the level doesn’t change during the different seasons and is not affected by the amount of precipitation.

The spring is fed by the snow melting in Mount Hood, and this explains why it is so clear, limpid and freezingly cold.

4. Enjoy the surrounding mountain meadows

little crater lake loop
Little Crater Lake Loop by H Dragon/Flickr

You will find beautiful emerald green mountain meadows in the area. On hot days during the late summer, they acquire irresistible golden shades.

The best way to get to know the vicinity of the lake is to follow Little Crater Lake Loop.

This is a hiking trail that is approximately 0.37 miles (0.6 km) long. This is a great opportunity to enjoy the beauty of local flora and fauna.

The forests in the area are home to various species of birds, amphibians and reptiles as well as large and small mammals.

The little chipmunks are especially common so you can see them behind every corner.

5. The view to Mount Hood

fruit valley and mount hood
Fruit Valley and Mount Hood by Jim Choate/Flickr

No matter where you are within Mount Hood National Forest, the majestic silhouette of the mountain dominates the surrounding landscape.

As Mount Hood rises to 11,250 ft above sea level (3,429 m), it could be seen from almost every point of the park.

The surroundings of Little Crater Lake are no exception.

They reveal a magnificent panorama to the summit, which, however, is very often partially or completely covered in clouds.

The snow cap is impressive and stands out against the emerald green landscape.

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