Nature Notes

Volume XII No. 1 - October, 1946

An Ecological Appreciation Of The Lake Trail
By W. J. Nee, Ranger-Naturalist

From the standpoint of botanical appreciation, one of the outstanding Self Guiding Nature Trails of Crater Lake National Park is the Crater Wall Trail commonly referred to as the Lake Trail. This trail has: first, a large number of floral species; second, a broad range of plant associations due to moisture, temperature and altitude; and third, the most extreme spread of flowering time.

Approximately 75 species can be readily identified on the Lake Trail. The following is a partial list of the more prominent plants: mountain hemlock, white bark pine, sedge, Engleman's aster, Newberry's knotweed, false helebore, tall ragwort, feather-leaf leutkea, heart-leaf arnica, Crater Lake currant, smooth wood rush, one-sided pyrola, Brewer's mitrewort, Tomie's Saxifrage, creeping raspberry, crustaceous lichen, staghorn lichen, fireweed, mountain sorrell, red elderberry, mat huckleberry, rock penstemon, long-leaf arnica, bleeding heart, columbine, fivefinger, western boneset, Jacob's ladder, thorny currant, parsely fern, alpine everlasting, Hall's currant, western white pine, Shasta red fir, mitella, willow herb, white veined pyrola, Merten's corallroot, mat manzanita, Bongard's buttercup, Lewis's monkeyflower, Gorman's stonecrop, pearly everlasting, pine paintbrush, sulphur flower, phacelia, hawkweed, kellogia, mountain maple, fat solomon seal, slim solomon seal, snowberry, prince's pine, baneberry, fleabane, western wind flower, holly fern, mountain ash, squaw carpet, broom huckleberry, Douglas phlox, veronica, yellow monkey flower, arabis platysperma, and Sitka valerian. Many of the earlier blossoming plants, the grasses, and varieties of sedges are not listed here.

A typical plant association of the upper area is the mountain hemlock, smooth wood rush, and Crater Lake currant association. An excellent example of this association can be seen toward the end of the second switchback. At the end of the seventh switchback is an association of plants that frequent rocky ledges including parsley fern, and crustaceous lichens. At the end of the ninth switchback, the altitude is sufficiently low for the Shasta red fir and western white pine to mingle with mountain hemlock. As on faces the lake, one looks right into the tops of each of the above named trees. Limb pattern, foliage, and cones are very convenient for close comparison. There is a splendid view of a towering cliff immediately behind this tree association. Along the tenth switchback is a very beautiful growth of bleeding heart. A decaying log has provided protection and humus to enhance the beauty of this cluster of flowers.

The thirteenth switchback is a long one but has an association that is altogether different from any of the preceding. A ledge of fragmental material has produced a drier situation upon which characteristic plants have grown. In this association are mat manzanita, veried-leaf phacelia, pearly everlasting, pine paintbrush, sulphur flower, Engleman's aster, Gorman's stonecrop, and others. Another similar association but on a more rocky situation is to be found on the sixteenth switchback. Here the predominating plant is Gorman's stonecrop.

One other association of particular interest is at the bottom of the trail where the Sitka alder and thorny currant form a dense thicket in the talus. Observation of the alder will explain the many dense green thickets around the lower reaches of the crater wall. This grows principally because the drainage from the wall is constant throughout the growing season.

Because of the exposure, protection from desiccating winds, and the supply of moisture, the Lake Trail produces the widest extreme in season of any area so easily available to the public. From the earliest to the latest part of the season, flowers can be seen in all stages of development. In early September, this year, there were Lewis monkeyflowers just coming into bud and blossom while within a few feet, the same species had completely gone to seed. Within a radius of twenty feet, one can see the first blossoms of red elderberry, the green berries and the ripened red berry. Long after the columbine has disappeared around the Park Headquarters, they are just coming into blossom at the foot of the Lake Trail. And so it is with many of the other plants. On this splendid trail, springtime is determined by environmental factors, which make a brilliant floral display the whole season through.

Mammal Populations, 1946
By Dr. R. R. Huestis, Ranger-Naturalist

black bear

This note is based upon observations, made in Crater Lake National Park, upon the most easily observable mammal species. The present season is distinct in two particulars: The park is open to the heavy public travel for the first time since 1942. The heavy snowfall of the 1945-46 season has provided an exceptional amount of vegetation throughout the area.

Olympic black bear are not numerous as compared with pre-war years. The policy of garbage disposal at a considerable distance from any habited area has been successful in preventing unhealthy concentration of these animals. A few complaints have been made by campers of bears stealing foodstuffs left exposed in a vacated camp but these indignant people are outnumbered twenty to one by visitors equally indignant because they haven't seen a bear since they entered the park.

Columbia black-tailed deer appear to be exceptionally numerous. They are commonly seen by visitors and trails are found to be dotted with fresh footprints whenever they are visited. Deer are commoner than at any season in the last then years.

Golden mantled ground squirrels are rather scarce. In 1938 about 150 squirrels, by actual count, inhabited the rim area between the Lodge and the Crater Wall Trail. This year's population appears to be about one-fifth of this. Squirrels are very numerous along Highway 230 east, outside the park.


Townsend chipmunks, never very numerous, appear in expected numbers. Klamath chipmunks have been rarely observed in the rim area this year. White-footed mice, which in the rim area sometimes enter the cafeteria or lodge in considerable numbers, have caused no comment this year and appear to be below average in number. A few have been taken in snap traps along Munson Creek.

Yellow-bellied marmots may be seen to some extent along the highways. None has been observed along the Rim Walk, where one or two could usually be seen. Conies can be seen in the talus slopes along Garfield Peak Trails but do not call from the rim slopes to any extent this year. They appear to be present in less than average number.

Signs of the Mazama gopher showed in a few places along the rim where the snow melted. The most extensive workings in the rim area were in a small flat between the highway and the cafeteria. When it is considered that spring melts commonly expose extensive gopher workings in cleared spaced everywhere in the park area, the numbers of gophers this year can be considered below average.

Among the medium sized and small carnivores, pine martens have been reported to be about as numerous as usual. A weasel carrying a Microtus and, later, the same individual carrying a small Citellus, was seen at the Information Building. Coyotes have not been reported at all and foxes rarely.

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