Crater Lake National Park…. Plaikni Falls

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Upper Plaikni Falls with 1/2 second exposure for motion blur. Taken with Canon 5D MkII w/Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS and Singh-Ray Vari-ND 2-8 stop filter.

The Crater Lake National Parks service has set up three trails boasting full handicap accessibility, The Pinnacles, Godfrey Glen, and, Plaikni Falls. Over all Park Services did a fantastic job making these trail accessible for wheelchair users like myself and keeping the hiking experience real. During all of our hikes we felt as though we were blazing new territories through the wooden areas discovering the endless boundaries of nature.  Our hiking experience, and our viewing experiences while visiting Crater Lake where sensational and forever memorable. Both Godfrey Glen and Plaikni Falls have paved parking areas with 1-2 ADA parking stalls, the exception is the Pinnacles Overlook, which is a dirt loop with a small ADA sign designating the handicap parking stall near the trailhead.  Unfortunately none of these parking areas came with restroom facilities of any kind.

We decided our first hiking adventure would be the one mile hike to Plaikni Falls. It is described as an easy to moderate hike to the falls with an elevation gain of 100 feet. If you were a person with bad joints on the sticks or a scooter, or an electric wheelchair, is is that for sure as most of the trail is near level ground. If you are a manual wheelchair user you will have a few challenges meeting a couple areas of soft sand and a couple of moderate uphill climbs, or downhill runaway’s on your way back.  We discovered many wonderful photo opportunities along our hike to the falls as we climbed in elevation. If you plan your visit in early July will also be rewarded with beautiful areas of colorful spring wildflowers that are easily photographed from the trail. This first photo is of the upper part of the falls, it is a large falls so if you are more interested in capturing the beauty of the entire falls you will need a wide angle lens. Along with my tripod and my Canon 5D MkII I packed two lenses for the hike, a Canon 24-105mm f/4L, a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L. I also packed a Singh-Ray Vari-ND 2-8 stop filter so I could slow down my exposure in the bright sunlight to create a nice silky water flow.  Make sure you pack a few snacks and plenty of water, even though you are higher in altitude that sun can take it’s toll on you.

Once you reach the base of the falls, which is also the end of the trail, the viewing area is not very big. If you made me guess, I would say maybe enough room for a couple of tripods to still give room for other viewers to pass. The Park Service does allow climbing on the rocks up to and around the base of the falls, which was bothersome as we had to wait for the area to clear before taking a shot.

 

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One of the moderately sandy areas of the trail.

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A natural spring makes for a muddy trail at the base of the falls trail, just below the viewing area. This is the worst section of the trail for grade and the water adds to the treachery.

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A modest uphill climb along the Plaikni Falls Trail.

 

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Crimson Columbine as in this image, Paintbrush, Lupine and Lewis monkeyflower can be seen blanketing the hillside and up to trails edge of roughly the last 100 yards to the base of the falls.If you look close you can see a tiny spider making it’s way.

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This was taken just off the lower end of the trail. When I saw this so nicely composed for me with color, textures and shapes I couldn’t grab my camera fast enough.

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