Paulina Falls is the dramatic outlet for Paulina Lake, as Paulina Creek begins its long decent down the flanks of the Newberry Volcano. This waterfall drops 80 feet over a wide amphitheater of basalt cliffs, splitting around an island just before ethe drop. At some point, the falls may migrate upstream, disappearing forever and lowering the water elevation of Paulina Lake. So don’t miss your chance to visit this falls over the next few thousand years while it still remains!
The hike to Paulina Falls is a short one and a nice introduction to the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, as it is one of the first stops you can make as you enter the caldera. Once parked, head to the far end of the parking area and find two trails. Head to the right first and take a quick 100 yard stroll to a beautiful overlook of Paulina Falls. Here, a nice, railed off section of the trail abuts right against the cliffs edge offering you a stunning vista of the cascade. There is also a nice, shaded picnic area nestled in the trees just off the trail.
Once you’ve had your fill, head back towards the parking area and follow the trail heading down the canyon to the base of the falls. The trail descends about 100 feet in 0.2 miles over three quick switchbacks as you head down the canyon. Before you know it, you’ll be standing at the base of Paulina Falls, the cliff walls towering above you and the creek tumbling down into the piles of boulders at the base of the falls. Enjoy it. Soon, you will have to stroll back up and out of the canyon.
The reach the Paulina Falls Trailhead, head towards the turnoff for the Newberry Caldera on Highway 97, 6 miles north of La Pine or 17 miles south of Bend. Head East on the Paulina Lake Road. Continue up the road towards Paulina and East Lakes for 12.3 miles. Pass by the guard station and a mile after that, look for all the signs directing you to Paulina Falls off to your right. Park and hike. Easy.
Passes: A NOrthwest Forest Pass is required.
Dogs: Allowed and must be on a leash.
Usage: Moderate - Heavy
Open Season: The road up to Paulina Lake closes in the winter at 10-mile Snopark, 10 miles from the highway. It usually opens for the season in late May and closes in Mid Novemeber.
Bugs: Mosquitos will likey be present and persistent from late May into August or so.