Crater Creek Falls is the second in a series of seemingly neverending cascades along Crater Creek's major canyon. The falls begin with a 9-foot plunge over a low ledge, then as the creek widens it hurtles over a 72 foot tall curtain style plunge into a much deeper section of the chasm. During the early summer months when Crater Creek is at its fullest, the falls are the most powerful along the creek, but by the autumn months the water spreads out into several tiny rivulets and creates a much more graceful series of lacy drips.
Visitors to this waterfall may notice the heavily scoured streambed above and below the falls. This is the remaining evidence of a substantial flood which occured when a large chunk of an unnamed glacier calved into Moraine Lake on the east face of Broken Top and sent a large wave over the natural dam, causing it to breach. The lake partially drained, lowering its level by 14 feet and sending 50 million gallons of water down the Crater Creek drainage, scouring out everything in its path. The scars on the landscape are not nearly as evident at this waterfall as they are further downstream.
Crater Creek is partially diverted into the Crater Creek ditch about a mile upstream of the falls. Late in the summer months the volume of water actually reaching this waterfall can be greatly reduced due to this diversion, but the falls should rarely run dry.
- Crater Creek Falls is the Unofficial name of this waterfall.
The falls on Crater Creek are accessed from the Green Lakes trailhead along the Cascade Lakes Highway west of Bend. Exit Highway 97 in downtown Bend at Franklin Street and turn west (signed for Mount Bachelor and the Cascade Lakes Loop). Franklin becomes Broadway as it parallels the Deschutes River, then crosses the river and becomes Galveston. Turn left on SW Century Drive which becomes the Cascade Lakes Highway. After 26 miles the Green Lakes / Soda Creek trailhead will be found on the right side of the highway. This waterfall can only be seen by hiking off-trail from the Soda Creek trail. Hike in for 3 1/2 miles to the meadows above the canyon, then leave the trail and ford Crater Creek (shin deep at most). Once across, hike downstream through the meadows and open woods along the canyon rim. Upper Crater Creek Falls will be passed soon, with Crater Creek Falls coming in quick succession just downstream. Do not attempt to follow the creek at stream level. Viewpoints for the falls are also achievable from the trail's side of the canyon but are more dangerous to access due to the steep, crumbly slopes.