Paulina Falls and Paulina Lake

Mileage (Roundtrip): 6 Trail Conditions: Light hikers recommended
Hike #: 27 Scenery (1 "Meh" to 10 "Amazing, Wow"): 8
Sullivan Hike #: 41 Difficulty (1 "Easy" to 5 "Difficult"): 2
Hike Name: Newberry Caldera Region: Bend

Driving Directions: From Bend, drive 22 miles south on Highway 97 to the “Newberry Caldera” sign between mileposts 161 and 162. Turn left into the Newberry Caldera National Monument and drive 11.1 miles to the fee booth/entry booth. The Paulina Falls parking area is 1.1 miles further up the road (on the left side). Access to Paulina Lake is about 1 mile beyond the Paulina Falls parking area. Maps of the Newberry Volcanic National Monument are available at the fee station.

Bring: Bug repellant (in July and August), sunblock, hiking boots.

Other Things to Know: It is worth visiting Paulina Peak, East Lake, and the Big Obsidian Flow while you are visiting the national monument, especially if you forgo the 7.5 mile hike around Paulina Lake.

lake, dog swimming

Paulina Lake

Home to Oregon’s most massive volcano, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument is a great day hiking, fishing, paddling, and camping spot about 1 hour south of Bend.  Angelique and I have visited the National Monument several times since moving to Bend but this was the first time we visited the three viewpoints for the upper Paulina Creek Falls.  While the hike to Paulina Falls is short (it is less than 2 miles of walking in between the three viewpoints) it is easy to combine the Paulina Falls hike with the hike around Paulina Lake.

From the parking lot it is a short walk to the first viewpoint on the south side of Paulina Falls.  I imagine that many people return to their cars after visiting this first viewpoint which is a shame since the other viewpoints are superior.  We quickly left the crowded viewpoint near the parking lot and hiked .2 miles downhill to the rocks/platform at the base of the double falls.  For me this viewpoint was by far the most scenic and it was fun to scramble around the rocks in search of “the perfect” photograph.

After 10 minutes or so of enjoying the crashing water and mist from the falls, we returned to the viewpoint on the south side of the creek and continued upstream to the lake.  The .4 mile long walk to the lake passes through a very shady forest with numerous “social” trails heading down into the creek drainage, including a well-worn path to some slick rock pools.  Once at the lake we crossed the narrow auto bridge and picked up the Peter Skene Ogden Trail.


Paulina Falls

The Peter Skene Ogden trail (a great out-and-back hike itself) descends for .3 miles through a forest of new growth pines to a lookout on the north side of Paulina Falls.  This lookout is arguably better than the lookout on the south side of Paulina Falls and we had it all to ourselves.  After admiring the view for 10 minutes or so we returned to Paulina Lake and began a clockwise loop of the lake, stopping once or twice to let Zoe have a swim.  We hiked for a mile or so to a spot with a nice view of Paulina Peak and then decided to return to our car since we had already hiked around Paulina Lake on a previous visit to the National Monument.  All in all a good outing for a chilly day in May.

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