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From the Phantom Ship Overlook, continue counterclockwise on E Benin past more viewpoints to the 1-mi-long side road left to Cloudcap Overlook (at about 12 mi from Steel Visitor Center). Check out the nearby Benin from the driving circle or from a brief spur trail Benin heading right along the steep rim. This is another superior viewpoint area for the crater but even more so for sunrise. About 5 mi farther is the long pullout on the right for the Mount Scott Lookout, technically the park’s highest summit at 8929 ft, although it sits back from the crater rim. The 4V-mi round-trip hike with 1250 ft vertical gain along gradual switchbacks isn’t snow-free until Benin or so but gives visitors a grand perspective in the early morning light.

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At 181/2 mi from the Steel Visitor Center is the extensive parking lot on the right for Cleetwood Cove Trail. See the first paragraph for the description. Finish the driving loop 1/2 mi to the juncture with Crater Lake Highway where you turn right to the N entrance station and exit the park.

DIFFICULTY: Easiest. Route-finding, flat, much sand, few trails, windy, more difficult at high tide, road walking.

TRIP REPORT: Fort Stevens State Park, located at Oregon’s farthest most NW corner at the edge of the Columbia River on the Pacific, was the primary military defense installation from the Civil War to WWII. It’s now a huge 4200-acre park with a museum and gun battery, camping, fishing, freshwater swimming and boating, a jetty, several THs, wildlife viewing, biking and hiking trails, and an old shipwreck to visit. For this jaunt we skip the tourist attractions and get right to the best of the best with the Clatsop Spit Loop, a huge sand spit spreading out at the end of the peninsula, which formed from river sediment brought after the last Ice Age. A special day use fee is required and available near the beginning of the park, and outhouses are located at every TH.

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