It’s taken me a while to work on this post. At first, I wrote a lot about Newberry Crater National Volcanic Monument. I wrote a few paragraphs about its history and how it’s very similar to its neighbor, Crater Lake National Park. I wrote about how this was going to be a 2-day, 23-mile backpacking trip but was cut short due to smoke. I wrote about a lot of things. But you’d get bored and not enjoy it, I’m sure, so I deleted all of it.
Instead, I’d rather get to the meat and potatoes of this hike report by sharing with you a lot of photos I took. I usually like to share just a dozen or so photos of each hike, but this trail deserves more.
If I had to summarize this hike into a couple sentences, I’d say that the outstanding feature of the hike was its diversity of flora, in particular, the juxtaposition of colors and textures. The palette and tactile quality of the rocks, trees, ground and everything the grows on them made this one of the more visually stimulating hikes I’ve been on recently. I’m sure the photos below will show you what I mean.
Location: Newberry Crater National Volcanic Monument, Oregon
Length: 7.5 miles
This map was made with the data my GPS captured on the hike. For a more detailed trip report map, check this out.
I was BLOWN AWAY by the amazingness found in Newberry Crater. This was my first visit to the monument and didn’t know exactly what to expect.
The day was warm and summer still seemed to linger up here on the lake.
I parked at the Paulina Lake Trailhead, which is a good place to start a hike on the Paulina Lakeshore Loop or the 19-mile Newberry Crater Rim Loop.
I brought my loupe, as always, and enjoyed studying the community of lichens on the rocks along the trail.
I don’t know much about the classification of lichens, but I’d like to study them more. Getting your nose into it reveals a fascinating world.
I took the next few photos through my 30x magnification of my loupe. The diameter of the viewing area is the same as a US dime.
I like how this lichen branches outwards.
More interesting lichen on a lava rock. This one seems to have distinctive white fringes.
I find this stuff so amazing to look at. Remember,what you see here can fit on the surface of a dime!
For the first three miles, the trail stays within 10-20 feet of the lake shore.
The underside of a mushroom attached to a tree.
Seemed like a perfect day to go fishing. This fisherman slowly putted by on the calm Paulina Lake.
The trail has a few access points to the beach, each small cove has its own distinctive feel. This one is a beach of small pebbles.
After about three miles of hiking clockwise on the trail, it climbs up a few hundred feet above the lake.
From the highest point on the trail, you can see most of the lake and the surrounding crater rim. To the south, you can spot a secret beach side hot spring, seen here in the bottom left of the photo.
A side trail will take you down to the hot spring. Previous visitors have dug out small puddles to soak in the volcanically-heated water bubbling from the shoreline. I couldn’t handle the heat, even when mixing it with the cooler lake water. I’d guess that the hot spring percolated out at about 115 degrees Fahrenheit!
Here’s a permanent soaking pool someone had built. Unfortunately, the water was a bit tepid and had a film covering it.
I was a little annoyed to find remnants of these faux logs, presumably used at a time when this hot spring was commercialized. Now they lie cracked open and their rotten sponge innards are found all along the beach.
Smoke from the Pole Creek Fire 30 miles north had begun drifting into the crater in the late morning. Along with lower visibility, the smoke gave me a headache and scratchy eyes. I decided 5 miles into my hike to make this adventure just a day hike, making my 20+ pound backpack nothing more than dead weight.
The east side of Paulina Lake, along the land separating Paulina Lake from East Lake, was my favorite section of this trail! The trail takes you to ground zero, in the shadow of the central pumice cone for which this landscape originated from.
The dense black obsidian rock punctuated by green foliage along the lake shore really felt out of this world!
The texture of these rocks deserves a second photo to share with you.
Yet again, the trail ecology changes. Now the trail is lined with scouring rush. A small garter snake escaped my sight through this dense foliage.
More interesting textures of a lichen colony.
Reds, oranges, and greens.
The shoreline here was rocky and, again, interesting to look at with its shades of greens, oranges, and greys.
I saw only a dozen or so hikers throughout the day, increasing the magic of the experience for me.
More study of texture and color.
When the trail hits Little Crater Campground, it becomes a road walk for a bit, eventually a trail branches out and gets you back along the shore of the lake.
Another sandy beach, this one had small pumice stones along with other pebble-sized rocks. A geologists dream beach!
The colors continue to fascinate me on this hike. I like how the leaves of this shrub have both pale green and dark green leaves.
B&W of leaves of shrub seen in previous photo.
It seems with every few hundred feet, the shoreline of Paulina Lake changes. In this section, the trail is flanked by tall grasses.
Closeup of a tree covered in hairy lichen.
Another close-up of a different tree covered in lichen. Did I mention how I love the different textures found on this hike?
I believe the residue rings on the rocks are caused by the sulfur released into the lake.
More lichen on lava rock.
Near the end of the hike, I entered a forest rich in life. I couldn’t believe that this was late September! It looked and felt like the middle of summer!
Yet another interesting color palete. The change from dark green to yellow is NOT because of the lighting. The grasses closest to the lake are, in fact, a different color than those further from shore.