April 2019 – Gifford Pinchot National Forest – Falls Creek Falls

Wow. These falls are epic, and the name is epically redundant! Once we got to them, the falls were RIGHT THERE. And flowing quickly!

Psssst. You can watch the video of our hike HERE!

Getting to the trailhead is also an adventure! The quickest way to get there from Portland, is to take I-84 to Cascade Locks, cross the Bridge of the Gods (it’s $2 to cross each way!), go through Stevenson and Carson, and then meander down a dirt road for two miles. If I could just make a recommendation here, don’t take a car that has low clearance. You’re going to want a LOT of space between you and the ground. The road isn’t awful, but maintenance didn’t appear to be frequent. Also, if you plan on using their restroom facilities, you may want to pack some tissue JUST IN CASE.

The trail itself is GREAT! It is pretty easy going until just after the suspension bridge. Yeah, I said suspension bridge. I promise it wasn’t as scary as it sounds (or looks).

I won’t sugar-coat it. Once we crossed the suspension bridge, the elevation change came, and it was silently brutal. We went 1.1 miles and had to take a short breather. My heart was RACING. But after the break…this:

And this wasn’t even the main event falls! To get across, there is another footbridge (not suspension this time around). Only a quarter mile to go! Just before you get to Falls Creek Falls, there is a small stream to fjord, but it’s not too bad and there are plenty of rocks that you can work with to get across.

Even from the trail you could feel the chill coming off of the water, and it felt amazing after the uphill climb. We took our time around the falls, took lots of pictures, and had a quick snack. I’ll say that since the falls are SO CLOSE to the lookout point, many of the surfaces are damp. We grabbed a rock towards the back that had some dry spots.

The way back was a little slower, with more people on the trail, and a handful of severe downhill portions.

I should note that we did not do the upper part of the trail (152), but instead kept to the lower portion. Now we have another reason to go back–not that we needed it! This Ponderosa Pine forest is absolutely fascinating and full of great views.

Conditions:

Start Time: 10:40am; Starting Temperature: ~50F/10C, overcast with some sun breaks.
Ending Time: 1:05pm; Ending Temperature: 58F/14.4C, partly cloudy with sun breaks.

Happy Hiking!

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