The Blue Grotto is a geologic feature just above of the North Shore Trail on the north side of Lost Creek Lake. It’s where a seasonal stream has cut a 40-foot (12 m) waterfall through a greenish rhyolite formation that is ash from the eruption of Mount Mazama, the volcano that created the Crater Lake caldera. The Grotto is at its best in the late winter to early Spring when runoff brings the waterfall to life. We figured that rain and snow melt from a big storm a week ago had by now found its way to the Grotto’s waterfall, so we set off on our annual visit. In previous years, we’d simply hike out-and-back on the North Shore Trail from the Lost Creek Trailhead, which is a lovely hike. Then I discovered an old road that runs past Fawn Butte, above and parallel to the North Shore Trail. This makes it possible to form a loop that includes views from the hills, a visit to the Blue Grotto, and a walk along the lake.
Using the Fawn Butte Trail (that old road), we’ve previously visited the Blue Grotto by descending south from the road just west of Blue Gulch and by going to road’s end and looping back on the North Shore Trail (there are some private property issues here). This time we went south off the road at the head of the intermittent creek that feeds the waterfall.
It’s only 0.6 miles (1 km) from the road to the head of the waterfall. That journey was an easy one as we went cross-country above and alongside the creek to the top of the waterfall. There was a bit of brush at first but soon the terrain opened-up nicely. There’s a lot of (now dormant) poison oak through here so you probably wouldn’t want to do this in summer – but then you wouldn’t because there’s no waterfall then. 🙂
Above the waterfall we found some interesting pools and water-carved rock formations. It was obvious, based on scour in the creek bed and the water-worn rocks, that this little seasonal creek is (or was) capable of some short, but intense, flows.
From the top of the waterfall, we worked our way east up a dirt slope and then descended through the forest above the Grotto to its main trail. A snack and the obligatory visit to the gushing waterfall followed. Added bonuses were ice build-up on some of the tree branches near the base of the falls and a small rainbow. 🙂
After the snack and the waterfall, there was nothing to do but stroll the four miles (6.4 km) back to the Lost Creek Trailhead along the North Shore Trail. It didn’t hurt that a day that had started out fog-shrouded in the valley had become nearly cloudless and full bluebird by the time we started back.
The waterfall was excellent and, overall, it was a superb day in the out-of-doors. Done this way, the loop comes to 7 miles (11.2 km) with only 700 feet (213 m) of gain. 😀 The Blue Grotto is easy to find from the North Shore Trail as there’s a sign and a well-worn side trail to it. In case this isn’t enough, there’s a floating toilet for boaters permanently moored in the Grotto’s inlet. 🙄RETURN TO FRONT PAGE