Crater Lake Loop
This is probably the classic ride in Southern Oregon. It brings everything a rider could want to the table. It's a short 33 mile loop around the lake with several options for starting locations. If you want to extend the ride into an even more spectacular long ride, adding in roughly 45 miles of riding off of the rim can make this an epic ride. I've ridden the loop many times with many variations. In August of 2002, I took my favorite. The end of the ride was disappointing as I had to cut it short because of encroaching smoke from forest fires but it was a great ride nonetheless. I started the ride in Union Creek, intending to ride to the south entrance to the park on Hwy 62 around the rim to the north entrance and throughthe scenic Upper Rogue River canyon along Hwy 230. Even without the addition of the upper Rogue this is a great ride. Instead of continuing out of the park at the north entrance, I finsished the loop and returned to Union Creek the way I came. This made for 75 miles of riding with 7,700 feet of climbing. If you choose to include the upper rogue section include another 10 miles and another 1,000 feet of climbing as Hwy 230 has some big rollers.
If you are wanting to just ride the rim, you probably should start at the Park Headquarters a few miles up the road from the South Park entrance. The North entrance also would be a viable starting point. Most people recommend that cyclists ride the loop in a clockwise manner starting. I personally prefer the reverse. Either way you start with nice climb. There are four climbs on the rim each just shy of 1,000 feet. Grades aren't steep, but average 5% for the whole rim. Once on the rim, the only flat spot is the parking lot at the lodge. The climbs here are a rarity in the Cascades. They are usually out of the trees on an exposed face of the mountain. Even when you are out of sight of the lake you have great views in the other directions. Depending on starting location, and sidetrips elevation varies from 3,400' at Union Creek to 7,900' at Cloudcap. It is good advice to bring layered clothing.
Take Hwy. 62 out of Medford for 75 miles to park entrance. There is minimal parking at the entrance station and at Park HQ 4 miles up the entrance road.
I would advise taking this ride on a weekday or near the beginning or end of the park's season. The majority of the rim road is fairly narrow and does not have a shoulder. Traffic is supposed to travel at 35mph but usually goes closer to 60. I was twice forced off the road by an RV a couple years ago. Some riders would recommend the use of a mirror as cars can sneak up on you.. If you decide to throw in the additional out of the park riding it is even more crucial to use good judgement.