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A Hidden Gem at Crater Lake: Annie Creek

As is true of most national parks, Crater Lake National Park has many beautiful places that most park visitors rarely see. Annie Creek is one of these.

It isn’t actually hidden. There is a trail that shadows Annie Creek from within the park, beginning near Annie Springs, where the crystal clear water bubbles out of the ground. There is also an unimproved campground just outside of the south entrance to the park. I’ve camped at that campground many times throughout my youth and after I got married. In fact, this was one of the first places I took my children camping.

We’ve also spent a lot of time fishing in Annie Creek or picking morel mushrooms or simply enjoying the scenery.

It is only hidden from the aspect of most people who visit the park not knowing that it is even there. In a way, this is surprising. A half-mile from the south boundary of the park, which is marked by a sign, there is a snow-park located on the right. This is a large paved area and a couple of outhouses and it is where people like to go in the wintertime to ride snowmobiles. The unimproved camping area is just below the snow park and it is right on the creek.

The contrast is also staggering. Around the snow park and south park entrance, huge Ponderosa Pines dominate in the dry pumice soil. When a person drives down the short, steep road that goes down to Annie Creek from the snow park, they only drop about 100 feet in elevation, yet the trees bordering this part of Annie Creek are mostly aspen, firs, and hemlocks. That short road is only about 1/8 mile long, yet it is as if you enter an entirely different kind of forest.

The arrow on the map points to the campsite and snow park that has been mentioned here.  The map also shows how Annie Creek is bordered by the road.

Crater Lake map

The arrow on the map points to just north of the campsite and snow park that has been mentioned here.  The map also shows how Annie Creek is bordered by the road. Several other streams flow into Annie Creek in the upper reaches.

Not shown on this map, Annie Creek eventually flows into Wood River, which flows into Klamath Lake at the south end of Wood River Valley, about 20 miles south of the park.

Near the campsite

This actually isn't Annie Creek. However, this is very much like what Annie Creek looks like in the vicinity of the campsite below the snow park. The creek isn't planted with fish, but there are fish in it. Most have worked their way up from Klamath Lake or Wood River. I've caught rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout out of this stream. These are wily fish, too, and they aren't easily caught. Often, if they see you, they won't bite at anything they are offered.

Lower end of Annie Creek Canyon

This is north of the campsite, just below the southern end of Annie Creek Canyon. Even here, the terrain is very steep. This area is mostly pumice and ash from the long-ago eruption of Mount Mazama that created Crater Lake. This means that the rocks are soft and light, so Annie Creek, rain, snow, and winds have caused the canyon and the steep V-shaped terrain.

Anne Creek Canyon

This is even farther north than the last picture and this is the lower part of Annie Creek Canyon. The distance from the stream to the top of the canyon is about 200-300 feet. Of special interest, notice the pinnacles on the canyon face roughly in the middle of the image. These were sculpted mostly by wind and water out of the soft rock of the cliff face. The steep sloping part of the cliff below the pinnacles is a little deceptive. This is scree that has fallen down the cliff face and it is mostly pumice. A person trying to climb up to the pinnacles would have a very difficult time because the pumice is loose and gives very little traction. If you take a step upward, you slide back nearly a step.

The upper Annie Creek Canyon

This is the upper part of Annie Creek Canyon. In this part of the canyon, the canyon is narrower, much steeper, but not quite as deep as in the last picture. More pinnacles can be seen in this image. 

This is also a very dangerous part of the canyon and the place this image is taken is about as close to the edge of the canyon that a prudent person would want to get. Again, this is pumice soil and if you start to slide on it, it is very difficult to stop. I had a few close calls when I lived at the park and was at that special age when I thought I was invincible. Reminiscing, I sometimes wonder how I managed to survive to adulthood. 

All of this beauty is in part of the park that isn't hard to get to, but most park visitors don't even know that it is there. This is why I've said repeatedly that while the actual lake is worth seeing and is gorgeous, if that is all a visitor sees when they go to this park, they missed most of the sights that can be found here.

What do you think?

4 points

Written by Rex Trulove

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    • This is a truly gorgeous place, anywhere along the stream. that means that a lot of walking isn’t required. I can no longer walk the trails, but if I went to the campsite, I can guarantee that after a day or two, I’d feel rejuvenated, all with very little walking.

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