Boundary Springs (Crater Lake National Park) 26-Jul-2021

Boundary Springs – which emerge from semi-arid terrain in the northwest corner of Crater Lake National Park – are the source of the mainstem of the Rogue River. Many other tributaries and streams contribute to the Rogue before it reaches the sea at Gold Beach, but that river starts here. It’s tempting to think that these springs somehow tap Crater Lake itself but they are, instead, fed only by snowmelt.

Our first, and only, visit to Boundary Springs was during a 2012 hiking trip at Crater Lake. The trail to the springs (Boundary Springs Trail #1057) leaves the Upper Rogue River Trail #1034 about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) from the trailhead at the Crater Rim (or Mount Mazama) viewpoint on Highway 230. In March of 2015 we inaugurated our hikes of the entire length of the #1034 with a hike from the viewpoint to Hamaker Meadows. We didn’t detour to the springs on that trip. Then, in late 2015, the National Creek Complex Fire roared through this area, obliterating the forest around the #1057 and the start of the #1034. 😢 What with trail closures, falling snags, and delays in trail maintenance, we never went back.

And then Rich Stickle – who organizes the Monday hikes for the Ashland Hiking Group – asked if we’d like to go on one of their hikes. We said “yes” and joined him and others in the group for a hike to Boundary Springs. We’d meet some new people (not something we’re particularly good at) and also see how the forest enroute to the springs was doing almost six year after the National Creek Fire tore through it. Pie 🥧 at Beckie’s after the hike was an added inducement.

The LovedOne (white shirt, straw hat) departs the trailhead with the Ashland Hiking Group
Dead trees and new trees along the #1034
Jerry crossing a log over a small, very small, tributary of the Rogue River
The Rogue River before it passes under an OHV road
We cross the park boundary about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the viewpoint
A meadow along the trail
Rogue River
A Rogue cascade
A waterfall on the Rogue
Passing the junction with the Bald Crater Loop Trail
Approaching the springs
Monkeyflowers adorn every log

After just 2.5 miles (4 km), we reached the springs – which are still flowing merrily. The riparian zones nearest the water were comfortingly green, some of the mature trees had escaped the fire, and there is an abundance of new trees near the trailhead. But much of the forest we traversed had been reduced to dead snags.

The LovedOne (white shirt) and Rich (arrow) sit on the log over the source of the Rogue River

When we hiked here back in 2012, I took pictures of all the “interesting” stuff and almost none of the forest itself. I just took the trees for granted – they’d always be here, so why photograph them? Another mistake on my part – along with the one about me thinking that climate change wasn’t already here. 🙄

The view from the source in 2012
The same view today
The Rogue River

Even up here at 5,000 feet (1,525 m), the day was heading toward overly warm and there was smoke haze in the air, so it was just as well this was a short hike. So, after a brief lunch break at the springs, we headed back.

Heading back
A Monkeyflower-strewn rivulet beside the trail
Back beneath the snags
Almost back to the #1034

This hike sure brought out some mixed feelings. On the happy side, we really appreciate Rich asking us along on this hike – we met some new and interesting people and I got to talk in-person (!) with some who follow this blog. And the hike itself was just the right length for the day’s weather. And the springs are still flowing! And there were also a few signs that at least some of the forest might be growing back. On the sad side, there weren’t enough of these signs and a lot of the forest we took for granted in 2012 is still just burned snags. Whether it will ever return to its former glory is exceedingly uncertain at this point. One thing is certain is that climate change isn’t no problem or even tomorrow’s problem, it’s today’s problem.

But two slices of Beckie’s wonderful pie 🥧🥧 lifted our otherwise somewhat tattered spirits, so it became a good day after all and overall. 😊

To the springs and back (“O” is the OHV trail you cross enroute)
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13 comments

  1. You do have Erythranthe guttata (Mimulus guttatus), the Common or Seep-Spring Monkeyflower, in Colorado. There’s a report of some in Poverty Gulch near Cripple Creek. It’s not considered rare so it’s probably lots of other wet places too.

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  2. Diana – I saw all those monkey flower and thought of you instantly…I still have yet to see a single one. I can’t believe how many there were ALL over the logs!!!

    Boots – your photos are amazing as usual. Love seeing all the new growth in the burn area!

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  3. Interesting… Rogue Brewing makes some of my favorite beers. Now I know what it’s named after! Great photos!

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  4. We’d been wondering what it looked like post fire. It was so lush and green before, maybe some day again sigh. Also we keep talking about Beckie’s pies, we’re hoping to experience them again later this year.

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  5. Thanks for following us! Do this hike in the Fall when it’s cooler & less smokey (hopefully). Also Beckie’s usually has seasonal berry pies available then. 🙂

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  6. Definitely doing this, including pie at Beckie’s. Thanks for the great information and photos.

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