Directions: Take Highway 26 past Government Camp and Frog Lake to Skyline Road. Follow Skyline Road to Abbott Road (there are signs for Little Crater Lake). Take Abbott Road to the Little Crater Lake Campground. Drive through the campground to the end where there is a small parking area at the trailhead.
From the trailhead take the paved path through a grassy field for a short distance, then you will enter a wooded area that quickly drops you at Little Crater Lake. There is a viewing platform and the trail turns into a boardwalk. Little Crater Lake is pretty small, it’s more the size of a pond. But it’s very deep, cold, and bright blue. When we first got to the lake it was still very early in the morning and it didn’t look very bright and the reflection off the surrounding trees obscured our view. It’s best viewing times are when the sun is up and shining on the lake, we got a much better view on our way back out.
Continue on the boardwalk trail past the lake and cross a few springs. The trail soon reenters the woods and you pass through a fenced horse area. This is where you meet up with the Pacific Crest Trail. Take a left here and soon you will reach a bridge that crosses over Little Crater Creek. The trail continues on at a very even grade as you hike through a more wooded area. There are side trails that take you to the edge of the creek. Some are worth the side trip, we were able to see a large Beaver Lodge.
Continuing on the trail you’ll pass more views of the creek as you gradually start to head uphill a bit. Soon, you’ll start to get some looks at Timothy Lake through the trees and you’ll pass an open area by the waters edge that’s a campsite. Keep going past the campsite uphill through the woods. You’ll be following above a narrow part of the lake at this point. When the trail starts to level out a bit you’ll come to a few areas that you can take a side trail down to the Lake. These couple of areas are the stopping point for this hike and they offer nice logs to sit on and have lunch, relax and take in the lake view. To get back to your car head back the way you came in.
If you want to extend your hike there is a 12 mile loop around Timothy Lake.
Distance: 4.5 miles (easy)
Elevation: 200 feet (easy)
Pet Friendly: Yes
Good For: All ages
Parking Fee: No
Seasons: Late spring through fall.
Popular: Can be during summer weekends.