Is the lake fogged in? Can’t see anything from the rim? Maybe you’ve hiked some of the other trails around Crater Lake, and you’re in the mood for a change of pace. Or maybe you’re camping at the Mazama Village Campground, and you want a quick, simple hike that’s right in your backyard. The Annie Creek Canyon Trail is not the most thrilling one in the park, but it’s an option.
When part, or all, of the Rim Drive is closed around Crater Lake, your hiking options are somewhat limited. I found myself in this situation, nearing the end of my second day at Crater Lake. I was in the mood to hike, but I wasn’t in the mood to trudge through snow, in the miserable weather up at the rim. So, I opted for the Annie Creek Canyon Trail.
The trail is a simple loop — half the time, you’re up high, the other half, you’re down below. The higher-elevation portion of the trail runs along the edge of the canyon, behind numerous campsites. On this day in late September, there was a little snow, and a lot of mud.
Looking over the edge, you can see where you’ll end up, in about a half-hour. That’s Annie Creek at the bottom of the canyon. Annie Creek is fed by a spring, just up the creek from here. It’s also the water you’ll be drinking if you stay at Wilson’s Cottages, like I did.
Much of the trail does not receive the afternoon or evening sun, so it was no surprise that there was still some snow here. Nearly a foot of snow had fallen two days earlier at the rim, which is about 1,000 feet higher than the creek.
The trail runs along side the creek, and crosses it a few times. Along the way, there are no super-spectacular photo opportunities…
… but I decided these rapids were nice enough to pull out the tripod and attempt a few pictures.
Creek crossings are accomplished via split-log bridges, like this one.
You’ll cross the creek again, as you get near the Annie Creek Pinnacles.
The Pinnacles are eroded pumice rock. The pumice was deposited here during Mount Mazama’s last eruption, roughly 7,700 years ago (Mount Mazama is the mountain that was blown away, creating the crater in which Crater Lake lies). Ash that landed near volcanic vents hardened. Over the centuries, Annie Creek washed away the softer rock, exposing the pinnacles.
After another creek crossing (over a frighteningly sloped bridge), it’s time to climb back up to the rim.
Along the way, you’ll get one more glimpse towards the pinnacles, as you look across “The Meadow”.
Somehow, it didn’t look quite the same as the photo in the guidebook I picked up at the trailhead. Hmm.
Annie Creek Canyon Trail is 1.7 miles, round-trip. It took me slightly more than an hour.
The Bottom Line
Annie Creek Canyon wasn’t very exciting. It’s certainly not the most important trail to hike at Crater Lake. It is, however, a good time-filler, and it would be a good family hike. If you’re staying at the Mazama Campground, it’s convenient.
You can hop onto the Annie Creek Canyon Trail anywhere along the rim of the canyon, behind the Mazama Village Campground. The official trailhead is behind the amphitheater, which is located between loops D and E. Parking is limited.
Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video tour of the Crater Lake area: