Ah, the endless dilemma that is Day 5. You’ve covered a respectable amount of ground over the last four days, a point not lost on your muscles and joints, and you will have certainly earned a break. But on the other hand – Crater Lake! Riding the rim is a potentially life-altering experience (not to oversell it).
So today, you have some choices to make. You can kick back, relax and dangle your toes in the crisp, cool waters of Diamond Lake or strap those aforementioned toes back into your cycling shoes and go see Oregon’s only National Park up close and personal.
Options 1 and 2 involve hanging out around camp. You can take a leisurely ride on the 11-mile paved John Dellenback bike trail that loops around Diamond Lake or you can make your way to the opposite end of the lake and rent any number of toys from the Diamond Lake Resort. Either way, you’ll have all day to take in the great views of Mt. Thielsen, Mount Bailey, Diamond Peak, and the lake itself. Note: Lunch will not be served at camp today, but there are a few tasty options around the lake to try.
Option 3 (complete with a couple sub-options) is to ride back up to Crater Lake’s North Entrance and from there to the rim to feast your eyes on this natural wonder. It’s a steady 13-mile climb to the first viewpoint where lunch is located, and you’ll rack up over 2000 feet of altitude on your way, with more than 4000 additional feet of climbing if you chose the option to do the whole Crater Lake Rim road.
When you reach the Rim Drive Junction, the location of Stop 1 – Lunch – a number of sub options come into play.
Sub-option the first: You can have some lunch on the rim, turn around and ride down that mountain you just rode up and head back to camp for a total of just over 26 miles on the day.
The second sub-option, and a big reason why we have been giddy about this ride since last January is the opportunity to ride around the rim of Crater Lake. According to numerous credible sources, this is one of the prettiest, most spectacular 32 miles of bike riding on earth. It’s a great ride, but you definitely have to work for it. There are no flat places on Rim Drive and you’re either riding up or down hills for the majority of the 32 miles. On the plus side, there are numerous viewpoints and pull-outs (all on the right side of the road) at which to stop, catch your breath, and soak up the scenery.
After you’ve filled up your senses to near John Denver-ian proportions, it’s a refreshing almost all-down-hill ride from Rim Drive back to camp at Diamond Lake!