Ah, the endless dilemma that is Day 3. You’ve covered a respectable amount of ground over the last two 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, Diamond Peak, and the lake itself.
Option 3 (complete with several 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, and you’ll rack up 2,200’ of altitude on your way.
If it feels like you’re climbing up a mountain, there’s a good reason for that–you are. Mt. Mazama erupted 7,700 years ago leaving a deep depression, or caldera, that eventually filled with water becoming Crater Lake. The impossibly-blue, pristine waters you can see today hold the distinction of being the deepest lake in North America at 1,949 feet. And every drop of water in this lake was deposited in the form of snow or rain–no streams or springs flow in or out of Crater Lake.
When you reach the Rim Drive Junction, the location of Stop 1, a number of sub options come into play.
Sub-option the first: You can 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. Lunch will not be served at camp today, but there are a few tasty options around the lake to try.
The second sub-option is to ride to Rim Village ,where Cycle Oregon will be serving lunch, then cruise over to the lodge on Rim Drive and buy a key chain and a postcard, before returning to camp. It’s 6 miles from Stop 1 to Rim Village, and another 6 miles back to the North Entrance road.
The third sub-option, and a big reason why we have been giddy about this ride since last January is 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 also may be one of the hardest. There are no flat places on Rim Drive and you’re either riding up or down hills for the majority of the 32miles. 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 Denverian proportions, it’s a refreshing almost all-down-hill ride from Rim Drive back to camp at Diamond Lake.