Paulina Falls

Newberry National Volcanic Monument / Deschutes National Forest / Bend, Oregon, USA

About Paulina Falls


Hiking Distance: 3/4-mile round-trip (both of closest viewpoints); 2.25 miles round-trip (all viewpoints)
Suggested Time: 30 minutes (both of closest viewpoints); 90 minutes (all viewpoints)

Date first visited: 2021-06-27
Date last visited: 2021-06-27

Waterfall Latitude: 43.71228
Waterfall Longitude: -121.28269

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Paulina Falls (also known as Paulina Creek Falls) was essentially a two-segment 100ft tall twin waterfall tumbling below the caldera rim of the Newberry Volcano.

Often mistakenly called the Newberry Crater, the falls was our main reason for visiting what is said to be the largest volcano in the Cascade Range (and the reason behind the Newberry National Volcanic Monument).

Paulina_Falls_100_06272021 - Paulina Falls or Paulina Creek Falls
Paulina Falls or Paulina Creek Falls

This waterfall offered a handful of ways to experience it, and I’ll get into each of these methods for the rest of this post.

The Bottom of Paulina Falls

From the Paulina Falls Day Use parking lot (see directions below), I was able to walk past the restroom facility towards a signed trail fork.

Keeping left at the fork, the trail descended about 1/4-mile to the banks of Paulina Creek, where there was a lookout area fronted by fallen rocks looking up at the waterfalls.

Signs discouraged off-trail scrambling onto the loose volcanic boulders to attempt to get a closer look, and I adhered to the rules.

Paulina_Falls_006_06272021 - Approaching the signed trail fork where the trail to the left went to the bottom of Paulina Falls while the trail on the right went to its upper viewpoint
Approaching the signed trail fork where the trail to the left went to the bottom of Paulina Falls while the trail on the right went to its upper viewpoint

Even though the falls may be 100ft, from this perspective, a large part of the overall height of the falls comprised of the creek somewhat hiding beneath the loose boulders.

And this ultimately made the falls appear shorter than it really was.

Since I made my visit to Paulina Falls in the mid-morning, I was fortunate to have showed up just before the sun breached the cliffs because I would have looked directly against the sun.

So I managed to get some photos while strategically using nearby trees to shield me from the morning sun to buy me more time for my viewing pleasure.

Paulina_Falls_055_06272021 - Looking up towards the double-barreled twin segments of Paulina Falls from the lookout at the bottom during my late June 2021 visit
Looking up towards the double-barreled twin segments of Paulina Falls from the lookout at the bottom during my late June 2021 visit

However, once there was nothing more I could do about the morning sun going against me, that was when I had my fill of this spot and headed back up to the trail fork.

Looking Across The Near Side of Paulina Falls

Just a few minutes walk (0.1-mile) on the other side of the trail fork, I managed to reach the nearest overlook area, which featured a rest bench and some interpretive signs.

In addition, there were a handful of picnic tables shaded by tall trees.

The lookout in this area was pretty much across the width of Paulina Falls, and since the sun was sidelighting the area, I didn’t have as much difficulty viewing and photographing the falls from here.

Paulina_Falls_169_06272021 - Context of Julie and Tahia checking out Paulina Falls from its main upper viewpoint during our late June 2021 visit
Context of Julie and Tahia checking out Paulina Falls from its main upper viewpoint during our late June 2021 visit

While I was all alone at the lower lookout, this upper lookout consistently had foot traffic, which made the viewing experience a bit dicey given the limited real-estate and COVID-19 threat.

For most of the people I saw who came here, this lookout was sufficient for their Paulina Falls experience.

And if that was the case, then this would essentially be like a roadside waterfall because it wouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to fully enjoy the falls in this limited fashion.

Looking Across The Far Side of Paulina Falls

While I stared at Paulina Falls from the main upper lookout, I couldn’t help but notice that there was another lookout on the opposite side of the falls.

Paulina_Falls_137_06272021 - Looking towards Paulina Lake from the road bridge over Paulina Creek
Looking towards Paulina Lake from the road bridge over Paulina Creek

As tempting as it was to find a shortcut to scramble across Paulina Creek to reach the trail leading to that lookout on the other side, I ultimately opted to do the sanctioned long way.

This involved hiking further upstream past the main upper lookout for about 0.3-mile towards the road bridge over Paulina Creek, where I managed to get a teasing glimpse of Paulina Lake.

I then had to walk across the road bridge before going downstream on another developed trail for about 0.3-mile, which ultimately led to that overlook of Paulina Falls on its opposite side.

From this vantage point, I was looking against the late morning sun again, and I’d imagine afternoons would yield the best lighting in general as far as this waterfall was concerned.

Paulina_Falls_149_06272021 - Looking at Paulina Creek Falls from the lookout at its opposite end
Looking at Paulina Creek Falls from the lookout at its opposite end

But after having my fill of this spot, I returned back the way I came, which made this hike on the order of about 1.2-1.4 miles round-trip.

Overall, I spent just under 2 hours to take in all three ways of experiencing Paulina Falls.

Authorities

Paulina Falls (or Paulina Creek Falls) resides in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument in the Deschutes National Forest near Bend in Deschutes County, Oregon. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Paulina_Falls_003_06272021 - Going past the restroom facility as I was getting started on my hike to Paulina Falls
Paulina_Falls_010_06272021 - Descending the switchbacks leading to the bottom lookout for Paulina Falls
Paulina_Falls_011_06272021 - Descending the trail to the bottom of Paulina Falls
Paulina_Falls_013_06272021 - Going down one of the handful of switchbacks leading to the bottom of Paulina Falls
Paulina_Falls_014_06272021 - Continuing to descend even more switchbacks on the way down to the bottom of Paulina Falls
Paulina_Falls_017_06272021 - Approaching the lookout at the bottom of Paulina Falls
Paulina_Falls_018_06272021 - At the bottom of the Paulina Falls
Paulina_Falls_034_06272021 - Looking up at the entirety of Paulina Falls from the lower lookout
Paulina_Falls_025_06272021 - Zoomed in look at Paulina Falls shortly before the morning sun was about to breach the cliffs
Paulina_Falls_083_06272021 - Looking at the context of the lower lookout for Paulina Falls and the waterfall itself
Paulina_Falls_094_06272021 - After having my fill of the bottom of Tumalo Falls, it was time to head back up
Paulina_Falls_097_06272021 - On the short upper trail leading to the main lookout for Paulina Falls
Paulina_Falls_102_06272021 - Portrait view across Paulina Falls from the main upper lookout
Paulina_Falls_108_06272021 - Context of someone enjoying the main lookout for Paulina Falls
Paulina_Falls_122_06272021 - Looking towards a couple of picnic tables nearby the main lookout for Paulina Falls
Paulina_Falls_123_06272021 - Following the trail upstream as I took the longer detour to get to the view opposite the Paulina Falls
Paulina_Falls_125_06272021 - I had contemplated taking a shortcut across Paulina Creek en route to the other lookout on the opposite side of the creek
Paulina_Falls_127_06272021 - Continuing going upstream along Paulina Creek as I followed the trail in pursuit of the view of Paulina Falls from the opposite side of its creek
Paulina_Falls_128_06272021 - Looking upstream towards the bridge across Paulina Creek
Paulina_Falls_135_06272021 - Looking towards Paulina Lake as I was crossing the road bridge over Paulina Creek
Paulina_Falls_160_06272021 - Looking back at the road bridge over Paulina Creek
Paulina_Falls_016_iPhone_06272021 - Now on the other side of Paulina Creek where this fence marked the start of the trail on the other side following the opposite banks of the creek
Paulina_Falls_143_06272021 - Now on the other side of the road bridge in pursuit of the other lookout opposite the main one.  It looked like this part might have seen a fire or two
Paulina_Falls_146_06272021 - Approaching that lookout on the opposite side of Paulina Creek from the main lookout that I was at earlier
Paulina_Falls_162_06272021 - Looking downstream from the road bridge over Paulina Creek
Paulina_Falls_165_06272021 - Going back downstream towards the main lookout area for Paulina Falls and eventually the day use parking lot to end this excursion
Paulina_Falls_170_06272021 - Following Julie and Tahia back along the short trail to the Paulina Falls Day Use parking lot


Paulina Falls (or Paulina Creek Falls) was near the town of Bend so I’ll describe the driving directions from there.

Heading south on the US97 from downtown Bend, we drove for about 24 miles to the well-signed turnoff for the Newberry Caldera Paulina-East Lakes.

Paulina_Falls_002_06272021 - The parking lot for the day use area for Paulina Falls, which was quite empty when we showed up in mid-morning on a Saturday
The parking lot for the day use area for Paulina Falls, which was quite empty when we showed up in mid-morning on a Saturday

Then, we continued driving for about 10 miles where we were greeted by an entrance kiosk, which took our Interagency Pass (typically a Northwest Pass or a day-use fee would be involved).

Beyond this kiosk, we continued roughly another 1.4 miles to the Paulina Falls Day Use Area on the left, which had a fairly sizable parking lot.

Overall, this drive took us about an hour, which wasn’t too bad considering Bend was turning out to be quite the fine location for activities in Central Oregon.

For geographical context, Bend was 143 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) south of Hood River, 128 miles (about 2.5 hours drive) east of Eugene, 173 miles (over 3 hours drive) northeast of Medford, 162 miles (over 3 hours drive) southeast of Portland, and 319 miles (over 5 hours drive) west of Boise, Idaho.

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Back and forth deliberate sweep from upstream to downstream before panning back for a closer look at each of the segments of Paulina Falls


Slow and deliberate sweep following the flow of Paulina Creek before focusing in on each of the segments


Brief sweep from the far side of Paulina Falls

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Tagged with: newberry, deschutes, paulina lake, bend, volcanic



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