“Small brook, lush vegetation, spectacular blooms of wildflowers in summer months
— Brian Smith
You can expect the trail to be snow-covered from October to early July, however, conditions vary somewhat from year to year. See Crater Lake Current Conditions
for more information.
Birding — River/Creek — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Summer wildflower viewing in the wet meadow is the main goal here. This short, relatively flat loop trail traverses through extremely varied landscapes. It travels through a forest, a dry slope, by a stream, and, the main attraction, a spring-fed meadow filled with wildflowers. During the summer months, a profusion of wildflowers lines the pathway. Bring your wildflower identification book. Trail guides (A Trail Guide to Castle Crest by the Natural History Association of Crater Lake NP) are available at the trailhead for $0.75 or for free if returned when you are finished with the trail.
In summer, a multitude of flowering plants, suited to moist soils and plenty of sunlight, flourish in the meadow. While lingering snowbanks melt, tiny violets and buttercups bloom, shooting stars unfurl pink darts, and bistorts display white florets. Verdant mosses claim the wet meadow center. Different species come into bloom throughout the season to change the meadows complexion.
In average winters, 50 feet of snow falls on Castle Crests slopes. Seeds, roots, and runners of a host of plants lie dormant beneath the snowpack. As spring arrives in June, new shoots push upward and willow branches sprout fresh leaves.
Through plant succession the meadow community is constantly changing as plants compete for sunlight and compete for sunlight and water. Willows encroach upon the meadow herbs. Red fir-mountain hemlock forest gradually replaces the willows. The forest can regenerate itself indefinitely under present climatic conditions. For now, Castle Crest Spring continues to bathe the roots of the pink monkeyflowers and other colorful mountain wildflowers.
The surrounding forest is dominated by red fir and mountain hemlock. A smaller component of subalpine fir and short-needled lodgepole pine can also be found. This creates a dense canopy of heavy shade.
Look for these wildflowers: Gorman buttercup (Ranunculus gormanii), Shooting stars (Dodecatheon alpinum), American Bistort (Polygonum bistortoides), Pacific red elder (Sambucuc racemosa var. microbotrys), Scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja miniata), Eastwood willow (Salix eastwoodiae), Columbia monkshood (Aconitum columbainum), Pacific bleedingheart (Dicentra formosa), Arrowleaf groundsel (Senecio triangularis), Mountain Violet (Viola purpurea, var. venosa), Blue stickseed (Hackelia micrantaha), Lewis monkeyflower (Mimulus lewisii), Common pearl-everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)