Lady of the Woods Trail in Crater Lake National Park

Hiking Crater Lake: Lady of the Woods Trail

Crater Lake National Park celebrates a birthday this month. Today we’re recapping the Lady of the Woods Trail, one of the hikes we did while visiting Crater Lake in September 2018. While not the longest or most strenuous trail, we did enjoy the large old-growth trees and learning more about the Lady of the Woods sculpture, for which this trail is named.

Lady of the Woods Sculpture in Crater Lake National Park

About the Lady of the Woods

The Lady of the Woods trail is named after a sculpture that’s carved into one of the large boulders along the trail. In 1917, Earl Russell Bush was a 31-year-old medical doctor living in Crater Lake National Park. He was staying in the nearby housing and helping to build the first rim drive around Crater Lake.

He took a few weeks off at the end of the working season and began carving the sculpture. It remained unfinished but became one of the park’s most famous attractions. Just a few years later in 1924, the National Park Service built a formal trail to the Lady of the Wood sculpture.

The Lady of the Woods along the Lady of the Woods Trail

Where is the Lady of the Woods Trail?

To find the Lady of the Woods trailhead is located directly behind the Steel Visitor’s Center and the Park Headquarters. Travel along West Rim Drive and near the junction with East Rim Drive, pull into the parking area for the park headquarters. The trailhead leads out the back of the parking area behind the Visitor’s Center.

Map to Trailhead:

Cover of the Trail Guide
Cover of the Trail Guide – Image provided by Crater Lake Institute

About the Lady of the Woods Trail

Here’s what you need to know about hiking the trail:

  • The trail is 0.3 miles in a loop format. Allowing enough time to follow the self-guided booklet, the trail will take around 30-40 minutes to complete.
  • The self-guided booklet is available online from the Crater Lake Institute. It describes the origins of the trail and the development of the buildings in the area around Steele Visitor’s Center from 1926 to 1941.
  • The surface of the trail is mulch and dirt. The entire trail is well-marked with guideposts for each stop on the self-guided booklet.
  • At 6,400 to 6,500 feet of elevation, allow yourself plenty of time for hiking. Although the trail is short, you may find it more challenging if you have not acclimated to the altitude in Crater Lake National Park.
  • The trail experiences moderate activity because of its proximity to the visitor’s center. We hiked it early in the morning while we waited for the Visitor’s Center to open at 9 am. At that time of day, we had the trail to ourselves.
  • Around the Lady of the Woods Trail are staff housing for Crater Lake National Park rangers and employees. If you hike on the trail, be respectful that you’re entering their space. Stay on the trail and speak in low voices to avoid disturbing the residents.
Crater Lake Buildings
Residential and Park Buildings along Lady of the Woods Trail

Where else can I hike nearby?

Crater Lake National Park has some outstanding hiking trails for all skill levels. The trails are well-marked on the park’s unigrid and in the hiking guides available at the ranger stations. Check out some of these trails near the Lady of the Woods Trail and around other parts of Crater Lake National Park:

Hiking Near Steele Visitor’s Center:

  • Castle Crest Wildflower Trail – 30 to 45 minute, easy hike that departs from either the East Rim Road or Visitor’s Center parking lot. The trail travels through open meadows which in the late spring and summer months are in full wildflower bloom.
  • Godfrey Glen – Located 2.3 miles south from the Lady of the Woods trail, this 30-minute loop trail is fully accessible and features some of the best old growth forest in the front country areas of the park..
  • Garfield Peak – This 3.4 mile out-and-back hike ascends to the top of Garfield Peak. At just above 8,000 feet it offers outstanding panoramic views of Crater Lake and is a good place to watch sunrise/sunsets. Check trail conditions before you go, as the trail frequently has snow into June and July.

Hiking in Crater Lake National Park:

  • Watchman Peak Trail – Another great spot for sunrises and sunsets in the park is the Watchman Peak Trail. Located on the western side of the lake along Crater Rim Drive, the trail is a moderate to strenuous 1.6 mile, out and back hike. At the top of Watchman Peak, you’ll reach a fire lookout station. Check out our hiking recap here: Hiking Crater Lake National Park: The Watchman Peak Trail.
  • Cleetwood Cove Trail – Many people come to Crater Lake National Park to dip their toes in the icy blue waters of the lake. If you’re interested in taking a boat ride or would like to go down to the lakeshore, the Cleetwood Cove Trail is the only option. The hike is strenuous with switchbacks and an 11% grade over 1.1 miles one way down to the lakeshore. It’s also heavily trafficked since all boat tours depart from the bottom of the trail.
  • Mt. Scott – If you’re looking to climb the tallest peak in Crater Lake National Park, then add Mt. Scott to your hiking list. At 8,929 feet this strenuous climb departs off the Mt. Scott trailhead along East Rim Drive. At 2.5 miles one-way, it’s a steep climb but worth the views.
Crater Lake Sunset

What else do you recommend in Crater Lake National Park?

If you’re looking for an itinerary to help you plan a multi-day trip to Crater Lake National Park, check out these trip planning ideas:

  • Our Itinerary – Check out this 2 day itinerary to find out where Park Chasers camped and hiked during our September 2018 visit.
  • Hike to a Waterfall – Crater Lake National Park is on our list of 17 National Parks with Stunning Waterfalls. The most popular waterfalls to view in the park: Toketee Falls, Plaikni Falls, Sun Creek Falls, Vidae Falls, Nearby: Rouge Gorge, National Creek Falls, and Watson Falls.
  • Drive Crater Rim Drive: Crater Rim Drive is one of the most famous scenic drives in all of the National Park Service. Spend the day stopping at each of the overlooks and marvel at how different Wizard Island and the blue water looks from different angles.
  • Stop at Crater Lake Lodge: Crater Lake Lodge (in the Rim Village area) was built in 1915 overlooking the Southwest corner of the lake.  Like many of the Great National Park Lodges, the large lobby with crackling fireplaces is a step back in time.  We love visiting the national park lodges, even if it’s just to warm up for a few minutes after a hike.
Park Chasers at Crater Lake – September 2018


Greg & Amy
Chasing a visit to all 400+ units in the NPS
Current Count: 130/423
Next Stop: @hawaiivolcanoes


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