The trail to Plaikni Falls in Crater Lake National Park opened just the year previous to my visit, so I feel somewhat lucky that I showed up at the right time when visiting the park. If I remember correctly, this waterfall was not listed in the books I had, and only found out about it by looking at the map they gave at the park entrance.
The hike to the falls along the newer trail was very enjoyable, and isn’t particularly difficult. It’s just over 1 mile from the parking area to the falls. I have read that it is wheelchair accessible, and it seems from reports of others that this is true. I do believe the last portion of the falls does require a slight uphill climb, if I remember correctly. Even so, the elevation change isn’t particularly significant.
Once you get to Plaikni Falls, you’re rewarded with a very mellow waterfall. The hike to the falls was so enjoyable, and then you arrive at this waterfall that is big enough to excite the senses but not so large as to drown out the thoughts…it just seemed peaceful. I enjoyed being able to rest, surrounded by lush green plants (which I associate with parts of Oregon).
1) The trailhead is found near the southern portion of the Rim Drive, which goes around Crater Lake. Realize that the Rim Drive is only completely open from sometime in mid-June until the snow starts falling again copious quantities. So don’t plan on visiting Plaikni Falls in April. You won’t be very lucky.
2) From the Rim Drive, you’re going to turn onto Pinnacles Road. If you are headed east, it would be a sharp turn to your right onto Pinnacles Road. (Also, if heading east, it would be right before the Phantom Ship Overlook, which you can use as a turn-around in case you miss the road.)
3) If you go all the way to the end of Pinnacles Road, you’ll be rewarded with another amazing sight…Pinnacles formed by interesting volcanic activity and subsequent erosion. To get to the trailhead, though, go about 1 mile down Pinnacles Road. The parking area for the trailhead will be on your left.
4) Park at the trailhead, and start the hike to Plaikni Falls. You may want to bring bug spray…
Distance of Hike: 2.2 miles roundtrip
Height: 20′ (main), 40′ (total)
Where in the World is Plaikni Falls?: map