Stuart Falls (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 11-Jul-2017

Stuart Falls Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

UPDATE: In August of 2017, this whole area sustained substantial damage from the Blanket Creek Fire, part of the High Cascades Complex Fire.  Current trail and forest conditions are unlikely to match those seen here.

Stuart Falls is a gorgeous 40-foot or so cascade of silver water nestled in a spectacular forest in the Sky Lakes Wilderness, near the extreme southwest corner of Crater Lake National Park. It has some wonderful campsites at its base and used to be readily accessible via the Red Blanket Trail (USFS #1090) from a trailhead on Forest Road (FR) 6205 to the west. But then this area was touched by the 2008 Lonesome Complex Middle Fork fire, which removed a lot of the understory and ground cover. This was followed by two years of minimal snow cover, punctuated by short, but intense, bursts of rain. No longer slowed by an understory, this water tore down gullies and completely obliterated the #1090 in several places (and also closed FR 6205 2.5 miles from the trailhead). Using my 4×4 to reach the trailhead, I did this hike in 2015 and found the journey to the falls to be difficult at best and possibly even dangerous. A return visit seemed unlikely until I realized there was a safe (but slightly longer) way in from the east via the Pumice Flat Trail. So, leaving the LovedOne immersed in some sort of intricate fabric project, I headed out to return to the falls.

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Falling Waters (March 2017)

“Once we have tasted far streams, touched the gold, found some limit beyond the waterfall, a season changes and we come back changed but safe, quiet, grateful.”  ~ William Stafford


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Stuart Falls (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 04-May-2015

Stuart Falls Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

UPDATE: This whole area sustained additional substantial damage during the 2017 Blanket Creek Fire, part of the High Cascades Complex Fire.  Current trail and forest conditions are likely to be worse than those seen here.

This hike wasn’t meant to be a lesson in the transience of trails but that’s what it became. Stuart Falls is a gorgeous 40-foot or so cascade of silver water on Red Blanket Creek nestled in a spectacular forest in the Sky Lakes Wilderness, near the extreme southwest corner of Crater Lake National Park. Judging from the size of the campsite at the falls, this area has been a favorite destination for years. The falls were said to be readily accessible from the west via the Red Blanket Trail (USFS #1090) from a trailhead on Forest Road (FR) 6205. Sullivan (Hike #42 in his Southern Oregon guide (Third Edition, 2014)) describes this trail to the falls as moderate and well-graded. So I went up to see it for myself.

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