Category Archives: Waterfalls

Larch Mountain- Sherrard Point to Multnomah Falls (Autumn 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the Corbett exit and take a left on the Old Highway. Take a right onto Larch Mountain Road (there is a big sign) and follow it for 14 miles to the trailhead. If you are doing this as a shuttle first drop a car off at the Multnomah Falls parking area (see explanation below)

This hike can be done as an out and back (14+ miles) or shuttle (just over 7 miles), leaving one car at Multnomah Falls and one at the Larch Mountain Trailhead. If you do decide to do this hike as an out and back please be prepared for over  4,000 feet of elevation gain and over 14 miles, it’s a hefty hike. We chose to start at the Larch Mountain Trailhead and hike downhill to Multnomah Falls.

From the Larch Mountain Trailhead the first part of this hike is going up to Sherrard Point. If it’s a clear day make sure not to skip this section, it’s one of the best viewpoints in the Gorge. It’s a short hike on a paved path with some stairs that take you to a fenced viewpoint. You will have views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson. It’s seriously great.

     

Once you’re done at the viewpoint head back down to the trailhead and get on the Larch Mountain trail (behind the bathrom). From here it’s all downhill, you’ll be losing about 4,000 feet total so it’s hard on the legs and easy on the lungs 😆. The first part of the trail is in a forest of skinny trees and ferns. You will enter a more heavily forested area and come to some junctions- all of the trail junctions are marked so make sure you stay on the Larch Mountain trail.

     

Next, you will enter the burn area from the Eagle Creek fire. There are lots of burned trees and downed trees (all off trail) but the trail is still very visible and easy to follow. After getting through the burn you will enter the open shale rockslide area. From here switchback downhill once and cross a footbridge. Beyond this point you will pass some seasonal waterfalls across the creek and come to a large bridge- this was recently replaced after the fire and it looks great.

     

Beyond this point you will pass by Ecola and Wisendanger Falls. This is the point where the trail will probably become more busy and get even worse as you head down to the Multnomah Falls switchbacks. Follow the marked switchbacks (there’s 11) down to Benson Bridge and then down to the parking lot.

     

This trail is well maintained and every junction is marked which is great. It’s a mix of dirt/pine needles, typical rocky Gorge and shale. There are a few log foot bridges and one large wood and metal bridge. We love doing this hike and are so glad it’s back open and looking good after the fire!

Distance: 7.5 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 4,000 feet *loss*

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most- it’s longer and can be hard on your legs

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Free at Multnomah Falls & NW Forest Pass required at Larch Mountain

Seasons: Late Spring through Fall- check for gate closures

Popular: Yes when you are around Multnomah Falls

Warnings: Part of this hike is in a burn area please read and respect all posted signage.

Lewis River Falls (Autumn 2019)

Directions: Drive I-84 East to Cascade Locks and cross the Bridge Of The Gods ($2 toll). Take a right onto Highway 14 and drive for almost 6 miles where you will take a left onto Wind River Road. Follow Wind River Road up and over Old Man Pass, a couple miles after the pass take a left onto Curly Creek Road. Follow this road until you come to the junction with FR 90. Take a right onto FR 90 and drive for about 10 miles where you will take a right into the Lower Lewis River Falls parking area.

A small section of trail between the lower and middle waterfalls is close. There is a detour that adds about a mile to your total hiking distance. You wont miss any of the waterfalls.

This was our last hike of summer 2019 and we made it a good one! We never do this hike during peak busy times because it’s absolutely insane and beyond overcrowded. We made a good choice visiting on the last weekend of September and only saw a handful of people the whole time.

From the parking area head down the trail by the bathroom until it dumps you out at the main trail and Lower Lewis River Falls. There are multiple viewing areas for the lower falls. Go right and you will pass two of them, there are small wooden benches at them as well. Continue this hike by heading upstream on the main trail. You will pass multiple staircases that allow river access and a small boardwalk turnout. As you pass these side areas the trail heads uphill gradually on a fairly wide and well maintained dirt path. There are campsites off to your left in the beginning and you will always see the river off to your right.

     

When you are almost to the middle waterfall the trail is closed due to damage. Take the detour trail that heads uphill somewhat steeply and through a slide area. It ends up at road level and the parking area for the middle falls. Briefly pass through the parking area and get back on the trail heading back into the forest. You’ll cross a bridge over Copper Falls and head downhill to the junction for Middle Lewis River Falls. Head down a few long switchbacks to get a view of the waterfall.

     

Back on the main trail continue on for about another mile and you will come to Upper Lewis River Falls. There is a place to get off trail and down to river level that offers a great view of the waterfall. There are a few big logs here that make it a great place to have lunch or sit and relax for a bit.

     

This is an out and back trail so head back out the way you came in.

Distance: 6 miles (moderate)

Elevation: 320 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: At the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Spring through Fall

Popular: Extremely popular during the summer months

Warnings: None

Wahclella Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 40 (Bonneville Dam). Take a right at the stop sign and go right at the fork where you will see the parking area.

This hike recently reopened after the Eagle Creek Fire. Like many of the recently reopened trails there was a lot of burned trees and definite trail reworking. A section of this trail is still closed so for now it’s strictly and out and back hike.

From the parking area get on the wide trail as you pass along the creek and small dam, round a corner and quickly come to a footbridge and Munra Falls. Continuing on you will soon come to a set of steep stairs and then the trail levels out a bit.

     

     

Soon you will come to what was a trail junction but the upper trail is now closed forcing you to go to the right and down a switchback to a bridge over the creek. You’re now in the rocky slide area and will start to see the waterfall off in the distance. Continue hiking through this slide area and come to another bridge and just a short distance later you will end the hike at Wahclella Falls. Head back out the way you came in.

     

     

There have already been reports of rock fall which is a normal hazard in a burn area. Please use caution while enjoying this hike.

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 300 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Rock fall and slides are common for years after a wildfire.

Salt Creek Falls & Diamond Creek Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: From the town of Oakridge go East on OR-58 for a little over 21 miles. You will come to a large sign for Salt Creek Falls, turn right here and head to the parking area.

     

Walk behind the bathrooms and follow the paved path a short distance to Salt Creek Falls. There are a couple viewpoints here but the railing is pretty high. Once you are done taking in Salt Creek Falls follow the paved path past the top of the waterfall as it heads into a picnic area and you cross a bridge. Next you will come to a trail junction. Go left here and follow the trail as it gradually climbs uphill.

     

You’ll cross an old service road as you continue your way back to the waterfall. Eventually you will come to an unmarked junction where you can only go left or right. Go right and switchback downhill to a partially obscured viewpoint of Diamond Creek Falls. Continue down the trail a short distance until you come to a trail on your left. Take this trail downhill and you will come to a log with steps carved into it, go down this and cross the large log bridge. Continue past the bridge a short distance and you will reach Diamond Creek Falls.

     

You are right at the base of the waterfall and you get a very up close and personal view of it. The waterfall is absolutely beautiful, and it quickly became one of our all-time favorites! When you are ready head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 3.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 465 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass

Seasons: Summer and Fall

Popular: Yes for Salt Creek Falls, not as popular for Diamond Creek Falls

Warnings: They had signs posted for a recent cougar sighting while we were here.

Benham Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions:  These directions are from Bend- travel south on Highway 97 for approximately 8 miles and take the Lava Lands Visitor Center exit to the right. Go past the Visitor Center on Forest Road 9702 for approximately 4 miles. There are signs along the way.

There are two trailheads and we went to both, the hike is best from the Benham Falls East trailhead (the directions above are to this trailhead).

     

     

From the parking area get on the dirt trail that follows along the Deschutes River. You will pass a zipline and come to a large bridge. Cross the bridge and the trail still follows along closely to the river for a bit. The trail winds back to the other Benham Falls trailhead where you will switchback a few times to a viewpoint of the waterfalls. It mostly just looks like a more rapid part of the river but it’s still pretty. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: .75 miles (easy)

Elevation: 50 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: Late spring through Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Paulina Falls (Summer 2019)

Paulina Falls is located in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument which is just outside of La Pine, Oregon.

Paulina Falls is a double falls and is best viewed from the lower viewpoint. It’s a short hike but definitely worth it.

     

From the parking area get on the paved path that soon splits, go right first and quickly get to the upper viewpoint. It’s not the best view since it’s only of the top of the waterfalls. Head back the other way on the trail and it turns to dirt where you will take a long switchback down to a short bridge and the lower viewpoint. There are lots of downed trees and large rocks in the creek and the base of the waterfalls which are very interesting. Head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: .5 mile (easy)

Elevation: 125 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass or Newberry entrance pass

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Wahkeena Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Take a left onto the Old Highway and drive for about 2.5 miles to the trailhead on your right.

This is a nice quick hike that would be good for kids or if you want to quickly show off the Gorge to out of town visitors.

From the parking area head up the few steps to a small viewpoint area of Wahkeena Creek/Lower Wahkeena Falls. After you have seen the creek get on the paved trail that takes you up one really long switchback and then flattens out for a short distance. That last part of this trail has a little damage but nothing that’s considered unsafe to hike on. The trail ends at a bridge that’s right in front of Wahkeena Falls. Head back out the way you came in.

     

The trail does continue on up 12 paved switchbacks to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. You gain a lot of elevation quickly, and add a little less than a mile to your hike. About a half mile or so past the viewpoint is Fairy Falls, both of these are great additions if you are feeling up to the challenge.

     

Distance: .5 mile (easy)

Elevation: 400 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes but they are seasonal

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Umbrella Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take Highway 26 East past Government Camp to the junction with Highway 35. Follow Highway 35 for about 8 miles until you see a sign for Hood River Meadows. Take a left here and follow the road a short distance to the Elk Meadow Trailhead on the right shoulder of the road.

From the trailhead you will be starting out on the Elk Meadow Trail for a little over a quarter mile until you reach a signed junction. Go left here on the Umbrella Falls Trail, the trail starts out by passing through a small meadow (if you start your hike early there is a good chance you will see deer in this area) and then heads uphill- and gets fairly steep in sections. You will start to get views down into Mt. Hood Meadows off to your left and soon pass under a ski lift. The trail switches back and you head up a short steep section that drops you into a wildflower filled meadow. We saw lots of lupine and paintbrush in this section.

     

     

The trail starts to level out a bit as you pass through more meadows with streams and get some views of the top of Mt. Hood off to your right. There was Beargrass in this area but it wasn’t quite in full bloom yet. We saw a few deer off in the distance and a few butterflies as well.

     

     

As you continue hiking you will come to a junction for Sahalie Falls. Stay straight here and a short distance later you will reach Umbrella Falls. On your way back you can take the side trail to Sahalie Falls and then head back out the way you came in.

     

Distance: 4 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: Most. This trail does have some steep sections so it may not be best for young kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: Yes a portable toilet at the trailhead

Parking Fee: NW Forest Pass required

Seasons: Summer through early Fall

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Latourell Falls (Summer 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 east to Exit 28 (Bridal Veil). Get onto the Old Highway heading right for about 2.5 miles until you reach the Latourell Falls parking area.

We decided to try this hike starting in the opposite direction doing a counterclockwise loop. Head down the paved path that quickly takes you to the lower (main) section of Latourell Falls. After taking in the waterfall continue over the footbridge and down the still paved trail that takes you into a park. Go through the park and up some stone steps where you will reach the Old Highway, carefully cross the road and pickup the trail on the other side. From here you will be heading uphill and it gets pretty steep in sections. Once at the top you will come to a small lookout with a partially obstructed view of the Columbia River. Continuing on you will briefly head downhill and then level out for a bit before coming to a switchback that takes you up to a more level section of trail. A short distance later you will reach Upper Latourell Falls.

     

To finish the loop cross the footbridge and follow the trail that is now on the other side of the creek. It’s mostly downhill,  you will cross two bridges and pass a bench with a nice view of the main waterfall. The trail ends at a viewing platform where you head down a short paved path to the parking area.

     

After doing this hike both ways we decided we definitely prefer to do it clockwise. We like saving the best waterfall for last and it’s a little easier on the legs 😉

     

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: 520 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes in the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Fairy Falls (Spring 2019)

Directions: Take I-84 East to exit 28. Go left on the Historic Highway to the Wahkeena Falls Trailhead.

From the trailhead take in the lower portion of Wahkeen Falls and then head off to your right crossing a small bridge over the water and getting on a paved path that does one long switchback up to the main section of Wahkeen Falls. Continuing on you will still be on a paved trail that soon come to a series of 12 switchbacks (most are pretty short).

     

     

The switchbacks take you up to a junction, go right a short distance to Lemmon’s Viewpoint. Back at the junction go left to continue on to the waterfall, this is where the paved section of trail ends and you are on a typical dirt/rock Gorge trail. You will pass over a low footbridge and then head uphill somewhat steeply following along closely to the creek. Cross a second bridge and the trail again switchesback a few more times before you arrive at Fairy Falls. There’s a bench right at the waterfall that makes a nice place to sit and have a little rest or lunch. Head back out the way you came in.

     

This is the second time we’ve done this hike since the Eagle Creek Fire and it’s so much more green this time. We love this trail and it’s so great to see it rebounding nicely!

     

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 800 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None