Larch Mountain Crater Loop
Oops. Naomi and I hiked the Larch Mountain Crater Loop last night and we deliberately chose not to take the very short walk from the parking lot to the rocky outcropping that this site is so famous for. I blame it on the siren call of the strawberry milkshake from Burgerville, a treat that has become somewhat of a reward after a Sunday afternoon hike.
But we did enjoy the quiet solitude of this 6.5 mile hike around the ancient volcanic crater rim. We only ran into 4 other people within the first mile, then nobody for the remainder on a late Sunday afternoon/early evening. It is pretty much a steady downhill to about the 3 mile mark, then a steady uphill regardless of which direction you start from. We parked at the main parking lot (and ordered our $5 recreation pass online, paid & self-printed) and started from the trail near the bathroom heading clockwise. If you hate paying the measly $5 to help out the forest service, there is a middle trailhead Google Maps calls “trail 441 connector” you can start and finish from. There were a number of well-marked junctions that kept us headed in the right direction. The going got slower towards the middle as we had to pay attention to the root-covered ground for a mile or two. Definitely not a strenuous hike, but I wouldn’t take granny either due to the length.
If you are feeling more adventurous, start or end your hike from Multnomah Falls. This is the 2-car option.
Around the 4 mile mark we noticed a small path off to the right that led to a viewpoint where there is a big rock you can sit on and enjoy a nice break. In the distance we saw a lovely view of Mt St Helens and Mt Adams. So if you, like us, are going to get that milkshake a bit earlier and skip that short walk from the parking to see the view that everyone else heads here for, be sure to find this rock.