16 Circulation – Trails

The Rustic Landscape of Rim Village, 1927-1941





Crater Wall Trail The first trail from the rim of Crater Lake to the water was built in 1907 and was located near the lodge. The trail was steep and subject to washouts. In 1914, the trail was considered dangerous but was still used. In 1918 the trail was rebuilt to form a 1-1/4 mile trail from the rim to the water edge near Eagle Cove. In 1925, the trail was described as more than 1000 feet straight down, with 28 percent grades and narrow benches. The trail was closed in 1930.In 1927, a new trail was under construction from the rim to the lake edge. The trailhead was located approximately 800 feet west of the Kiser Studio. The trail was 8000 feet long and 4 feet wide with a maximum grade of 15 percent. There were more than twenty switchbacks and six landings along the trail. The trail was described as being wide enough to accommodate horses, burros and mules, providing an accessible trail to most visitors. The trail was completed in 1928 and opened to the public the following season. Retaining walls and parapets were added as needed at various points along the trail to take-up the grade and stabilize the slopes. Vegetation was planted along the trail and log seats were placed at convenient intervals, sited to take advantage of pleasant views through the trees to the lake. In spite of this landscaping effort, the trail required a high degree of annual maintenance in order to “open” the route each spring. Plans were made in 1933 to provide a more permanent and suitable surface for the trail with an application of crushed stone and an oil. The decision was made not to oil the path because of the poor location and unstable banks. Eventually, the trail was oiled (by hand), while plans were underway for a new trail to the lake. In 1956, the Crater Wall Trail was still being used and still was a considerable drain on maintenance. Coinciding with the overall intent of park management to disperse the crowds from the vicinity of Rim Village, a new trail was proposed on the north side of the lake, at Cleetwood Cove. In 1958, the new trail was under construction and in 1960, the Crater Wall Trail at Rim Village was permanently closed, and replaced with the trail on the north shore.

Analysis and Evaluation

Historically, roads at Rim Village were functional, reflecting a utility in the hierarchy from primary roads — like the entry road and Rim Road — to secondary and service roads. Roads also reflected, to a degree, the naturalistic “style.” For example, roads through the campground were informal and designed to fit the ground plane and natural topography. Even Rim Road, a 56-foot wide “boulevard” was carefully sited and graded to fit at the base of the slope leading to the campground, so that it would appear recessed and unobtrusive. Plantings on either side of the road were established to enhance the sense of a continuous sweep of vegetation, further minimizing the visual impact of the road.

Pedestrian circulation systems, like the promenade, also were naturalistic in style, undulating gracefully along the caldera wall, taking advantage of spectacular lake views and natural extensions of land out over the caldera. Crosswalks, which served to disperse pedestrians from parking areas to the rim, were narrower than the main walk and more direct and functional in design, echoing the principles of utility and hierarchy for secondary systems of foot traffic.

Virtually all of the original circulation systems designed and implemented at Rim Village are evident today and serve as the primary systems of movement through the landscape. Although some changes have occurred, such as the hard-surface paving of social paths, and the realignment of the promenade due to erosion of the caldera, a remarkable amount of the original material and design remains intact. In addition, the Crater Wall Trail, and both early entry roads to the site (1905 and 1914) remain as remnants, and traces are discernible on the ground. Because these individual features and patterns remain (reflecting principles of the Rustic style) with such a high level of integrity, circulation systems as a whole are significant landscape resources.

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