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Backpacker Magazine – February/March 2013

Top 3: Better in Winter

What off season? Bundle up and reap the benefits of colder weather in these snowy playgrounds.

by: Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

The author above Crater Lake
The author above Crater Lake

Crater Lake NP, OR
Watchman Peak
Climb to views of America’s deepest lake.

Thanks to Rim Drive, this 1,900-foot-deep world wonder is mainly a drive-by attraction in summer. But when the annual average 44 feet of snow shuts down the auto parade, the views of the shockingly blue, cliff-lined lake await backcountry explorers. Soak them in on a 7.3-mile (round-trip) snowshoe up 8,013-foot Watchman Peak. From Rim Village, strike out on West Rim Drive through gently rolling evergreen forest. Start climbing Watchman’s obvious western ridge just past the Union Peak Overlook (mile 3.1), gaining 600 feet in .6 mile to views of the crater and the distant Cascades. Retrace your steps. Option: Camp among the hemlocks southwest of Wizard Island Overlook (mile 2.3; permit required). Save the trip for clear weather (routefinding gets tricky in storms). (541-594-300; Trip ID 2012667

The way From Medford, take OR 62 east 70 miles, then turn left on Munson Valley Rd.; go 4.5 miles to Rim Village. Start on the snow ramp west of the restrooms.

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Reader Rating: -


Star Star
Mar 07, 2013

Star Star Star Star Star
Mike G
Mar 07, 2013

My buddy and I did this as a backpacking trip few years back. We decided to hop on the snow covered road since we were post holing 2 feet on the AT. Although we saw someone's ski line we did not see a single soul. Since it was a blue bird day, at the lookout tower we could see all the way to mount mitchell. It was an awesome day (minus the below 0 windchills, however the bathroom buildings made for good brief protection).


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