Saturday 9/26/15 was a "car-free" day at Crater Lake, plus a forecast for clear weather. So Fran E. and Steve W. decided to ride this challenging route around the rim. http://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/v ... -drive.htm
Route map mileage / elevation (p.2) http://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/u ... ike-sb.pdf
We rode 30 mi. (6 mi. w/ cars on West Rim Drive; 24 mi. w/o cars on East Rim Drive), with 3300' elevation gain.
It took us 4 hours, including numerous stops at viewpoints and 4 enroute water/snack rest stations.
It's the highest -- up to 7700'
and hilliest (more about those later)
but also holiest-- most awe inspiring
ride Steve had ever done. Well worth doing again.
To give ourselves the most time to ride the loop (since we weren't sure how long it would take), get back somewhat early,
and avoid congestion (from cars on West Rim; and other cyclists on East Rim),
we left Ashland at 6am, and arrived at the South entrance before 8am to unload / check in.
This supported ride provided water, snacks, bike & firstaid services, portapotties, and shuttles -- and commemorative pin -- all for free.
(provided this year by Crater Lake NP, CLIF Bar, local businesses and organizations -- hopefully this support will continue in future years)
Mile 0: Park HQ / Visitor Center. The full loop would've been 33 miles, with 3900' of elevation.
However, to save energy & time, we had decided to skip riding the initial 3 mi. (and ~600' climb) to Rim Village.
Instead we took advantage of a free shuttle & bike trailer from Park HQ to drop us at the south rim.
(If the shuttle hadn't been available or convenient, we might've done our own car shuttle or just rode the initial, steep 3 mi.)
Mile 3 (our start): It was sunny but chilly as we began our loop clockwise at the top on West Rim Drive at 8:45am.
Although it was also a free Park admittance day, with our early start we fortunately encountered very few cars
on the not-car-free West Rim Drive for 6 miles going north. Fantastic views.
Mile 9: North Junction rest stop. Many other riders (and a few walkers) --
who either parked their cars there, or rode the free shuttle from Park HQ -- started here.
From No. Junction back to Park HQ on East Rim Drive was 24 miles, totally car-free (except for an occasional park ranger).
Another shorter (or bailout) option from No. Junction would be to ride out-and-back any desired mileage,
and then return to cars there, or to Park HQ via the shuttle.
We also saw some cyclists riding counterclockwise from Park HQ -- Fran thinks she might like to try that direction next time.
On East Rim, several packed gravel sections awaited repaving, but otherwise, road conditions were quite good.
Next rest stops:
Mile 13.7: Cleetwood Cove
Mile 20.9: Cloudcap (at 7700' the high point, near Mt. Scott)
Mile 27: Dutton Ridge
If there were any flat sections on this route, they were quite short.
No hills were particularly steep (less than Oak St. & E. Nevada to Gary's, and Killer Hill on figure-8 to Hyatt Lake);
however, the uphills on the rim were numerous and long -- at least 3 (we recall) mile+ climbs. The downhills were a delight.
Weather warmed up by later in morning, with a slight headwind on the last hill.
Mile 33: We arrived back at Park HQ at 12:45 -- 4 hours later. More cyclists were just starting.
Both Fran and Steve were exhilarated, with no cramps or sore muscles;
they were not too tired for their volunteer shifts at OSF Sat evening.
Good for you, Steve and Fran! Thanks for the great synopsis and terrific photos.