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Crater Lake National Park opens its new 2-mile Plaikni Falls Trail

CRATER LAKE — A visit to Oregon's only national park doesn't have to be limited to gazing in wonder at the nation's deepest lake.

The Plaikni Falls Trail, the newest in the Crater Lake National Park trail system, is a two-mile round trip hike leading to a 20-foot water fall southeast of the lake.

Although it was opened to hikers earlier this summer, it will be officially dedicated at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Participants include park Superintendent Craig Ackerman and elders of the Klamath Tribe.

A blessing will be offered by the tribal elders before visitors hike the new route where construction began last year.

The tribal elders came up with the name for the waterfall whose Klamath name means "from the high country," observed park spokeswoman Marsha McCabe.

"This is our first trail to a waterfall," she said.

"It's mostly flat with bit of a climb at the end. But it is family-friendly for people of all ages."

Once the trail surface is packed down by visitors, it is expected to be suitable for wheelchairs and baby strollers, officials said.

To reach the trailhead, drive about three miles south from Rim Village toward Highway 62. After passing park headquarters, turn east on East Rim Drive and drive 8.5 miles. Turn right on Pinnacles Road just before the Phantom Ship Overlook at Kerr Notch. The pull-out for the trailhead is about a mile down Pinnacle Road.

The path crosses Kerr Valley, which was carved out by glaciers during the Ice Age. Trail visitors will walk among old-growth mountain hemlock and Shasta red fir.

Although it is getting late in the season, there are still some blue lupine, red paint brush and other flowers in the high country.

The falls is on Sand Creek at the base of Anderson Bluffs.

Hikers are asked not to leave the trail. No pets are allowed on park paths.

"We have a lot of trails in the park but this one has become extremely popular," McCabe said.