2017-1-31 Trail Management meetings

Crater Lake National Park officials plan new summer, winter trails




Posted Jan 31, 2017 at 3:15 PMUpdated at 7:12 AM


By Tammy Asnicar for the Mail Tribune

Crater Lake National Park officials are inviting the public to help them craft a new trail plan – starting with an open house today in Medford.

Buried under a blanket of more than 9 feet of snow, Crater Lake is a Mecca for snowshoers and cross-country skiers.

In summer, it’s a hiker’s paradise, with 24 trails that wind through the park’s diverse landscape, including the rim of the blue, deep-water lake. Pristine, old-growth forests, glacier-carved cliffs, wildflower-embroidered meadows and towering, jagged peaks create jaw-dropping vistas at every turn.

Oregon’s only national park, Crater Lake had more than 615,000 visitors in 2015, and in 2016 approximately 750,000 people came to see the lake at the bottom of a caldera formed 7,700 years ago when Mount Mazama erupted.

However, only about one-third of those visitors explored the park’s 183,000 acres beyond Rim Village or ventured past the popular viewpoints along the 33-mile Rim Drive, says Jennifer Gifford, the park’s trail supervisor.

Crater Lake trail planning meetings

Crater Lake National Park officials will hold open houses to discuss the creation of a trail management plan.

Today: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Medford REI store, 85 Rossanley Drive.

Wednesday: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at The Ledge, 369 S. Sixth St., Klamath Falls.

Thursday: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at REI, 380 Powerhouse Drive, Bend.

“But we are seeing a good increase in more people getting out of their cars and out on the trails,” she adds.

She hopes that number will grow even more.

Crater Lake officials are in the preliminary stages of developing a 25-year trail management plan – the park’s first. At a series of open houses this week, they will unveil proposals for a network of hiking, biking, running, skiing and snowshoeing trails that will make the park more accessible to more visitors year-round. All trails are nonmotorized.

Proposals to enhance winter and summer trail use are “just ideas,” she says. “Ideas garnered from previous conversations with stakeholders. Nothing is carved in stone.”

The first open house, scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. today at the REI store in Medford, and a public comment period that runs until March 1, are intended to begin the conversation again about “what the public wants in their park,” she adds.

The Park Service is encouraging feedback on how to:

  • Improve and diversify recreation opportunities;
  • Improve connectivity between points of interest;
  • Reduce user-created trails;
  • Eliminate unsustainable and underutilized routes;
  • Protect park resources.

New trails may be created, while older trails could be eliminated or enhanced.