Guide to Little Crater Lake in Oregon (Near Mt. Hood)

Little Crater Lake
Image courtesy of Mike Edwards

Not to be confused with Crater Lake National Park, this serene spot nestled in the Mt. Hood National Forest is known as Crater Lake's little sister, Little Crater Lake. Whether you are looking for a gorgeous place to hike, or just want a quiet place to camp, this hidden gem surrounded by luscious meadows is the perfect place to get away in Oregon for the weekend.

Camping at Little Crater Lake

While the campground here offers few amenities (such as only one vault toilet, and only one source for potable water), what the lake lacks in comfort will make up for in serenity.

While camping at Little Crater Lake campground would be a great choice, as you could possibly have the place to yourself(one article I read the campers mentioned there wasn't even a ranger present), you could also check out the Resort which is about 12 miles from Timberline Lodge, in Welches, Oregon.

little crater lake

The water here is amazingly crystal clear, and an incredible light blue reflecting of the sky which you might not expect to find in a meadow off the base of a mountain.

History of Little Crater Lake

Little Crater Lake is considered a “geological oddity” and believed to be created by artesian water forcing its way through soft volcanic rock. Basically, there were separate layers of earth, one being a water-bearing gravel between solid bedrock and below soft siltstone. This area is a volcano, and when faults had shifted at some point, it created a crack allowing water to travel up through fissures.


The water came to the top creating an artesian spring that craved out a small lake in the soft siltstone and is what is known today as Little Crater Lake. The temperature here at this incredible natural wonder year-round is 34 degrees Fahrenheit, being it's filled by melted snow waters.

While it may be cold to swim here, photographers may want to stay for the night and try for some nighttime long exposures of the lake.

Directions to Little Crater Lake

You will find Little Crater Lake on the way to Timothy Lake, just east of Mt. Hood about 10 miles on highway US 26 past Timberline.

From Sandy, Oregon travel 66 miles East on Highway US 26.
Take a right on Skyline Road (Forest Road 42) and travel 4 miles.
It is then 2 miles west on FR 58. GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: 45.1476183 Longitude: -121.7475769

We'd like to give a huge thanks to Mike Edwards for helping contribute his incredible photos of Little Crater Lake. Please take a second to follow him on Instagram at @hikerluvr and his Facebook to see more gorgeous photos, Mike Edwards Photography.