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Camping on South Sister’s Summit

Tent Camping on South Sister

Everyone has climbed South Sister. Or at least, in Bend is seems that way. But how many people have camped on South Sister? Not many. And, how many have camped on the actual summit of South Sister, 10, 358 feet above sea level and 6,735 feet above Bend? Even less.

A night on South Sister does not come easy. While the hike from the Devil’s Lake Trailhead is just five miles, the vertical rise is nearly 5,000 feet. The trail is well marked and well-trodden, with spectacular views in all directions. A Northwest Forest permit is required to park at the Devil’s Lake Trailhead. An option is to park on the Cascade Lakes Highway. Be warned – there are frequent break-ins of cars parked on the highway.

South Sister Summit Camping

From the Devil’s Lake trailhead, the South Sister trail quickly crosses the Cascade Lakes Highway and enters a dense hemlock forest. Pick up your free Wilderness Permit here, making sure you specify your intent to spend the night on South Sister. If you did not bring full water bottles, fill up here at the year-round creek. The water is excellent. From here on, water is seasonal or a ways off the trail.

Climbing South Sister

As the trail ascends the canyon, it remains in thick forest, constantly climbing and zig-zagging up in switchbacks. One and a half miles later, you leave the canyon and step on the Moraine Lake Pumice Plateau. Finally, you can see your destination immediately ahead, dominating your view as it looms overhead.

Looking behind you and to the immediate south, Mount Bachelor rises before your eyes. It is easy to pick out your favorite ski runs on Northwest Express and Outback Express. Typically, there is snow on Bachelor well into August. Just over Mount Bachelor’s right shoulder, Diamond Peak is clearly visible. And beyond that, Mount Thielsen and Mount Scott can be seen. To the west, the Cascade foothills roll to the Coast range. Broken Top, South Sister’s nearest neighbor, provides a colorful scene to the east, displaying its multiple hues of lava like a rockbound rainbow.

After a mile across the plateau, the trail begins a relentless ascent towards the summit. The path varies from soft forest floor to scree to bouldering up steep slopes. Watch for the trail markers – dead trees or poles held vertically within large stone cairns. In spots, the trail offers several routes; don’t worry, all lead to the same place.

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Soon, you will crest a moraine through an obvious saddle and be looking directly at the Lewis Glacier and its small cirque lake. The water is eerily emerald green due to glacial sediment. A short hike down a steep slope will take you to its frigid waters. The water is safe to drink once treated, but a little grainy. Water from lower snowfield melt streams is preferred, although scarce after mid-August.

Above this natural rest spot, the trail takes on a different character. The trail is now purely scree, the rocks vary from green to gray to yellow to red, and every step seems steeper. There are no trees for shady respite, and the summer sun may be very warm. All distances are, unfortunately, further than they look. Make sure you have full water bottles and take your time.

When you reach the final Red Traverse, you are very close to the summit plateau. Now, you will be surprised. The South Sister summit is actually a huge snow-covered plateau, over a quarter-mile across. The true summit (of course!) is on the far side. You may either cross straight over the summit snowfield, conditions allowing, or hike around counter-clockwise on the rocky ridge, which offers a somewhat smooth route.

Camping on the Summit

Summit views are worth the short hike. To the north, you look directly at Middle Sister and North Sister, Mount Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood, and Mount Adams. Casting your eyes downward, you look straight down the Prouty Glacier to the strangely green Carver Lake, sitting in a moon-like pumice desert.

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As you look around the summit ridge, you will notice about a half dozen rock-walled structures encircling level camp sites. The wind shelters nearest the summit trail saddle are cruder and less level. The preferred site is the final shelter (going counter-clockwise). This shelter has a smooth floor, accepts tent stakes, and is the highest in elevation, allowing unobstructed sunset and sunrise views. On even a calm, warm day, there can be a stiff, cold wind on the summit, so be prepared to be chilled.

Usually, you will have the summit to yourself for the night, although there may be another small group. But the area is large enough that you will likely not hear or see them.

Normally, water can be obtained from melt water on the edges of the summit snowfield. In the event that the snowfield is still solid, a short hike to its lowest point will take you to the highest lake in Oregon, the Teardrop Pond. If it is cold, it may be necessary to break the top ice layer to reach water.

Teardrop lake on top of South Sister

 

Night skies on South Sister are clearly amazing. With little ambient light, the Milky Way jumps out. Easy to find constellations can be obscured by the tremendous number of visible stars. On a full moon night, you can read a book without a flashlight. Temperatures will typically be below freezing nightly, so be prepared for cold, even in August.

The descent is easy. Make sure you begin the descent where you crossed onto the summit plateau. A common mistake is to start down too far west, and venture onto the cliffs above the Lewis Glacier. Make sure you begin your descent no later than 4:00 PM, as the lower forests can get very dark after 8:00 PM.

Trail up South Sister

While the South Sister mileages are rather tame, the trail feels twice the distance, due to the steepness. Plan accordingly. A night on the summit will be worth the effort, with long memories of endless views, solitude, sparkling stars, and more solitude. Bring a bottle of Good Life Sweet As and enjoy the good life.

Tips for Camping on South Sister

  • Ascent can take from 3 ½ to 5 hours, descent from 2 ½ to 5 hours.
  • Bring more water than you think you will need and water purification system.
  • You will need a backpack, good sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent, and cold weather clothes.
  • No technical climbing experience or equipment is needed.
  • Pack out all trash, including used TP.
  • Cell phone service is available on the summit and portions of the trail.
  • Less than five miles from the Devil’s Lake Trailhead to Elk Lake Resort for great post-hike burgers.

17 Myths of the John Muir Trail

Part of the mystique of the John Muir Trail (JMT) is the plethora of enduring myths. Some are partially false, most are fully false. But all are fun and garner the attention of hikers and prospective hikers. Let’s address these myths, in no particular order.

1. The JMT is only suitable for the young and strong

Wrong!  My wife and I, ages 62 and 63, are living proof of that fallacy.  While it may have taken us a bit longer, we cleared the passes and put in the miles with nothing but smiles.  Now, don’t take this to mean you can arise from your La-z-Boy and cover all 211 miles with little effort.  You need to be in reasonable physical shape with no serious health conditions.  The JMT is strenuous and long.Toes in water

2. There are bears!  Everywhere!

Partially wrong.  You may see a bear or two in the first two days of Yosemite, but they become a rare sight after that.  A cooperative effort of Yosemite National Park, Sequoia / Kings Canyon national Park, and the US Forest Service has mandated the use of approved bear-proof food storage systems on the length of the JMT.  Bears have learned that backpackers do not mean food, and backpacker-bear interactions are few and far between.

cathedral-peak3. You need to be a mountain climber

Wrong!  The JMT is a well-worn trail for its entire length.  Ascending and descending mountain passes are on well-maintained trails.  True, some trails offer exposure but all are wide and safe.  For gosh sakes, horses can be found on any part of the JMT!  Even the trail up Mount Whitney is wide, safe, and well-constructed.

4. Creek crossings are deadly

Partially wrong.  The few non-bridge crossings are very safe.  Only in early summer will there be problems.  Only one stream crossing is “shoes off,” that being McClure Creek at the start of Evolution Valley.  While this crossing may reach mid-thigh level in early summer, it is located in a meadow with a sandy bottom and swift, but not fast, water.  That being said, the JMT parallels water for a good part of its length and potentially lethal off trail water hazards abound, ranging from cataracts to waterfalls.

5.  The altitude is too high

Partially wrong.  The JMT begins is Yosemite Valley at an elevation of about 4,000 feet, quickly ascending 1,900 feet to  the top of Nevada Falls.  From there it is a more gradual climb to Tuolumne Meadows at about 8,600 feet.  As the JMT travels south, it gradually gains altitude, allowing your body time to acclimate.  The JMT does cross high passes, but prudent trip planning will result in hiking high and sleeping low. While some people simply cannot adjust to the higher elevations, but the vast majority have no problem.

Sleeping on hike

6. It is impossible to get a trail permit

False.  There are several websites dedicated to strategies of securing a trail permit.  You must be flexible on your start dates and trailheads entering the wilderness.  It is easy, inexpensive, and quick.

7. Bear canisters are too big/too heavy/too expensive

False.  The Bear Vault 500, which holds 7-10 days’ worth of food is rigid and forces you to pack around it, but it is relatively inexpensive and available at any REI.  The Bearicade is very expensive, but lighter.  Both can double as camp stools.  There is a dynamic market on EBay for used bear canisters.

8. It is hard to get to the trailhead

Wrong.  Yosemite Valley has public transit into the valley and shuttles to all major points.  Upon exiting at Whitney Portal, it is common to hitch hike into Lone Pine.  From there, East Sierra Transit Agency (ESTA) has scheduled buses north to Mammoth Lakes, where a Yosemite bus will return you to the valley.  Alternatively, ESTA can take you directly to Reno International Airport.

9. Rangers will hassle you

Wrong.  Backcountry rangers are there to assist you and they enjoy the company.  Use these rangers as a resource for fire information, trail conditions, weather reports, etc.  Residing in wilderness ranger stations, they summer in the most beautiful place in the world.  How could they be anything other than pleasant?

10.  This year was too snowy / too dry

Partially false.  Even in dry years, the JMT is never far from water.  The longest dry stretch on the trail is about five miles.     In early summer, snowbanks may obscure north sides of the passes in heavy snow years. In snowy years, the snow melts quickly under the California sun.

Evolution Lake John Muir Trail11.  Mosquitos will eat me alive

Partially false.  Early season mosquitos have voracious appetites and attack in hordes of thousands.   DEET will keep the pests away, and the use of a mesh head net during early season will allow you to retain some degree of sanity.  From mid-August on, they mysteriously vanish.

12. The JMT is crowded

False.  The only crowds you will see are Yosemite Valley, where the JMT begins, at Tuolumne Meadows store and campground, and at Red’s Meadow.  Other than that, you will typically see 2 to 5 other backpackers a day.

13. I cannot afford it

Wrong.  While the current trend is towards ultra-light equipment, which is typically ultra-expensive, the JMT can be done with relatively inexpensive equipment.  Predictably mild weather eliminates the need to prepare for arctic conditions.  Many backpackers do without a stove, subsisting on energy bars and GORP.   Clothing does need to be high tech; just avoid anything cotton.

14.  I am afraid of getting lost

False.  The JMT is a well-trodden path, well signed, and a clear route.  Even in its most obscure spot, on the south side of Muir Pass, the trail follows an obvious route.

15.  It is all too complicated

False.  There are numerous on-line resources for planning your trip, scheduling resupplies, and offering general advice.  A minimal amount of planning will result in life long memories.

16. I cannot be away from Facebook and my Pokeman Go for that long

Possibly true.  But, this is why you need to hike the JMT – to get a life!

17.  I’ll do it next year

False.  You will just be another year older and look for other phony excuses.

Have a question about the John Muir Trail? Ask us below in the comments and we will do our best to answer it!

 

Forest Service Plans to Increase Camping Fee

When was the last time you went camping and had the entire campground to yourself?  How about the last time you could comfortably head out into the woods knowing you would have no problem finding a vacant campsite?  It has probably been awhile given the recent surge in outdoor recreation and camping.  Camping at popular destinations has become more like the hotel industry where reservations are mandatory unless you want to find yourself camping off the side of a road.

So given the increase in camping’s popularity, it is no surprise that the Forest Service is considering a plan to increase overnight fees in the Siuslaw National Forest. While this fee increase is currently only being considered in the Siuslaw National Forest you can almost guarantee this is something we will start to see throughout the Pacific Northwest.  After all, it is basic supply and demand economics.

How much will camping fees go up? It depends entirely on the campground however you can expect to see fees rise as little as $2 more per night to as much as $10 more per night. For those of us in the Portland area, though, high camping fees is no stranger.  Want to spend three nights at Lost Lake Campground on Mt. Hood? Great! Get your check book out and be ready to fork over more than $100 for the three nights as the average campsite fee is $32/night plus online booking fees.

What does this mean for the future of camping? It just means that like most everything else in the Pacific Northwest, prices are going up.

Here is a table outlining the proposed campground fee increases:

camp-fee-table

You can read more about the proposed increases here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/siuslaw/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD506139

Road to Opal Creek gets a Facelift

If you have ever visited Opal Creek or the Three Pools recreation area outside of Salem you know how bad the road gets when it switches from asphalt to gravel.  Considering how popular the area is it is a bit surprising that the roads have gotten in such poor shape.  Well now the Forest Service is going to finally do something about it and give the roads a much-needed facelift.

Work began on Monday, June 6 to fill in the potholes and grade the Opal Creek access road.  The work will be performed on weekdays to avoid high usage times and will last for several weeks.  This is a past due improvement to these access roads that will make the journey into such an incredible place much safer and easier.

You can read more about the road maintenance here.

Oregon State Parks Appreciation Day

Every year since 1997 the Oregon State Parks system has celebrated a day of appreciation for the state park system.  This year they are offering a weekend of fun on the house at all state parks and campgrounds in Oregon.  Who doesn’t like free camping and admission?

On Saturday, June 4th and Sunday, June 5th all day use and parking fees will be waived at the 26 state parks that charge admittance or parking fees.  Additionally, on the night of June 4th all overnight campground fees will be waived as well including those campgrounds with electrical, water and sewer hookups.

So what does this mean for you?  It means you should get out there and celebrate the good things in life – like free access to the Oregon State Parks system!

Need Some Ideas on Where to Go?

Here is a list of Oregon State Park campgrounds where you can enjoy a night of free camping.

Also consider visiting one of these Oregon State Park day use areas:

Let’s go!

You can find out more information on the Oregon State Parks website or call (800)551-6949.  If you want to reserve a campground call (800)452-5687.

White River Station Campground Closed

Many of our favorite campgrounds located in the northwest are usually situated along a river bank or body of water.  Their proximity to rivers is exactly why we like these campgrounds so much.  However sometimes being close to water does not work out so well for the campground itself.  Case in point: the White River Station Campground on Mount Hood.

The White River Station campground is a bit of a “hidden gem” located on the southern side of Mt. Hood about 15 minutes from highway 26.  It is slightly primitive in nature and only has (had?) 5 campsites and no drinking water.  There is plenty of dispersed camping located on the dirt road into White River Station and on holidays you can find plenty of campers boondocking in the woods.  For some, though, White River Station is one of those special places not many know about.  Unfortunately camping traditions will have to change for those looking to visit White River Station this year.

Last week the forest service announced the indefinite closure of the White River Station campground.  The closure is due the encroachment of the White River into the actual campground and the loss of several campsites as the river changes course.  We can assume that the heavy rains from this past winter led to flooding that washed away much of the embankment which kept the river from running through the more favored campsites.

If you were planning on heading up to White River Station campground you will have to make alternate plans.  Luckily there is no shortage of campgrounds in the area and below is a list of other options you can choose from:

This Week’s Recap of Recreation Incidents

Every year as the weather starts to turn from non-stop gray to blue skies filled with sun we start to see an increase in injuries and deaths related to outdoor recreation.  The last week has been particularly busy for rescue units and recovery operations in Oregon.  Here is a quick recap of the week’s unfortunate events that will hopefully act as a reminder to all to be safe when having fun out there.

Mother Falls to her Death at Horsetail Falls in the Colubmia River Gorge: http://www.kgw.com/news/local/horsetail-falls-hike-leaves-woman-dead-3-year-old-son-injured/163999195

This all happened in the span of less than 7 days.  We are all excited for the warmer weather to be here but lets all try and exercise some caution and learn from the unfortunate incidents that happened this week.

Cape Horn Hike in the Columbia River Gorge

The Cape Horn Loop hike on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge is an excellent 7 mile long hike that is close to Portland and easy to get to.  The hike starts just off Highway 14 roughly 10 miles east of Washougal and winds its way up the cliffs of  the Columbia Gorge far above the highway offering excellent views and vista points.  Along the trail you will pass waterfalls, cross creeks, meander through heavily wooded areas and be presented with numerous views of the gorge looking both east and west.

There are a few ways to hike Cape Horn and you will find that most people opt for the out and back trip making to the viewpoints then returning.  This is a good option if you are looking for a shorter hike.  For those looking for something a little more challenging opt for the longer 7 mile loop hike.  *Note that the 7 mile loop hike is not possible from February to July due to a trail closure to protect nesting falcons.

Cape Horn Hike Trailhead

Cape Horn Sign

Cape Horn Trail Sign

The Cape Horn Hike starts at the Cape Horn Trailhead located at the junction of Salmon Falls Road and Highway 14.  There is a large parking lot that fills up quickly during the busy season and parking is free – no permit needed.  Be sure to remove any valuables from your car as there have been many break-ins here.  The trailhead has restrooms, a paved lot and information boards outlining the history of the area.  To find the trailhead from the parking lot cross Salmon Falls Road and look for the Cape Horn Trail sign.  You can’t miss it.

Cape Horn Trail – The Hike

Cape Horn View

Cape Horn View

Upon entering the trail you will immediately be greeted with junction where the trail goes left or right.  Left is how you will return so stay right and follow the trail as it winds through the woods until you cross a small creek.  After the creek crossing the trail begins to work its way uphill through a series of mild switchbacks.  At this point it is important to note that this trail is open to horses and because of this you will come across many junctions with signs that say something like “viewpoint” or “horses only”.  At no point do you want to follow the horse trails – these completely bypass the viewpoints and you will miss out on the main attractions of this hike.  All of the “viewpoint” trails link back up with the main trail without forcing you to backtrack.

View of tree and cliffs

Fallen Tree Viewpoint

As the trail gets steeper you will soon reach your first view of the Gorge – Pioneer Point.  The view here to the east is excellent but watch that ledge – one false step and it will be the last thing you see.  Continue on the side trail here (do not back track) and you will quickly come to another viewpoint called Fall Tree Viewpoint which offers better views to the west as well as east.

Continue hiking on the side trail until you meet up again with the main trail and keep hiking up.  You will soon work your way from the cliffs and come to a section of trail that crosses private property.  It is OK though – the landowners have easement that allows access for well behaved hikers.  Soon you will come to a dirt road with a gate.  There are small brown markers with arrows indicating the direction of the trail for those who confuse easily.  Follow the road until you will see some homes and soon the dirt road runs into a paved road you must cross called Strunk Road.

When you cross the road you will see a field with a trail working its way parallel to the road for a short ways until you come to a T.  Stay right and follow the gravel road slightly downhill until you find the trail again on your left hand side.  This is where the trail leads to your next viewpoint called Phoca Viewpoint.

View of river and bird

Phoca Viewpoint

This is a developed viewpoint that looks east up the Gorge and is a popular spot for photographers.  If you are doing this hike between February and July this is a good turnaround point due to the closure further down the hill.

To continue the loop jump back on the trail and continue downhill for some time.  You will eventually pass a old decaying shed that is located on the trail and soon after that you will begin to hear the noise from Highway 14.  The trail will lead to a tunnel that passes under the highway as you get closer to another viewpoint that looks down on the upper portion of Cape Horn Falls.  Enjoy the view then continue on your way as the trail meanders down to the Columbia River offering some amazing views along the cliffs and water’s edge.

Waterfall

Cape Horn Falls

Soon you will arrive at Cape Horn Falls proper which is really the middle tier of this long cascade of falls.  There is a bridge that crosses the creek at the waterfall and then you will continue on the trail until you reach the end where the dirt meets asphalt.  From this road you will have to hike out to your car – so from the trail be sure to turn left, away from the river.  You will hike out on this paved road for about a mile until you get close to highway 14.  Keep an eye out for another trail that jumps off the road and will take you through a tunnel under the highway and meets up with the original trailhead where you can find your hopefully  undisturbed vehicle.

What to Bring

If you are doing the full 7 mile Cape Horn loop hike be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks.  Proper hiking attire is suggested and if it is a windy day keep in mind you are headed to the gorge so it will be even windier there.  You can get away with trail shoes however the latter portion of this hike crosses several rock falls so if you are prone to twisted ankles you may want to opt for boots on this one.  The time it takes to complete this hike will vary but experienced hikers can expect to have this loop done in about 3 hours.

Where to Camp

If you are looking to camp near the Cape Horn trailhead consider camping at Beacon Rock State Park, Dougan Creek Campground, or Beaver Campground outside Carson, Washington.

Photos from the Cape Horn Hike

Mist Falls Mini Adventure

Hiking in the Columbia River Gorge can at times be frustrating thanks to the draw of large crowds on nice weekends and the recent boom in outdoor recreation.  Trailhead parking lots are at capacity and solitude has become a rare event.  If you try hard enough though and know where to look you can still find a sliver of peace and quite in the middle of the bustling Gorge.

Mist Falls is one of those little “secrets” of the Gorge that nearly everyone has seen or driven by but most people don’t think twice about stopping and really enjoying it.  The Falls is located right next to Wahkeena Falls but because it is not easily accessible and does not have a huge water flow it is overlooked.  The “trailhead” is just a small pullout that can really only handle about 4 cars at most and there is no signage or visible trail making it hard to find.

If you are able to find the start to Mist Falls then you really just need to follow the worn foot path straight up the hill as it climbs a loose rock fall where you will take two steps forward and slide one back.  There is a slightly precarious section of this little scramble where you could fall and get very injured so if you do this be careful.  In less than a quarter of a mile you will be greeted with Mist Falls most likely blowing in the wind.

On your way back down at the bottom of the trail look east towards Wahkeena Falls and you will see the old chimney from the original Multnomah Lodge.  This is a very cool little piece of history that very few visitors of the Columbia River Gorge notice but nearly everyone drives right by.

Mist Falls Timelapse

Wahclella Falls Loop Hike

The Wahclella Falls loop hike is much easier to complete than the name of this two tier waterfall is to pronounce.  Also known as Tanner Creek Falls, Wahclella Falls is one of the most picturesque falls in all of the Columbia Gorge.  The hike consists of a short “lollipop” loop that takes you through an incredible canyon lined with sheer cliffs and overhangs with Wahclella Falls at its pinnacle.

Who Would Enjoy Wahclella Falls

This hike is very popular for beginner hikers and tourists not from the area.  It is very easy to get to and Wahclella Falls is less than a mile away from the trail head parking area.  There is some mild exposure to cliffs on a few sections of the trail however compared to the rest of the hikes in this area of the Columbia Gorge it seems minimal making this a good hike if you are with children or bringing a dog.

Why Hike to Wahclella Falls

Wahclella Falls is truly one of the more beautiful spots in the Columbia River Gorge.  It is easy to get to and offers so much to look at in what almost seems like a playground for the nature lover.  For the experienced hiker this would be a very easy trek to complete and could even be done in conjunction with another hike. This hike is something that should be checked off everyone’s list that are familiar with the Gorge.

The Hike

Munra Falls

Munra Falls

The Wahclella Falls hike begins at a paved trail head just off highway 84 outside Cascade Locks.  There is a restroom at the trail head and you must either display a NW Forest Pass or pay for day use at the parking kiosk.

You will being your hike by paralleling Tanner Creek up a short access road to a fish hatchery dam.  As soon as you reach the end of this road you will be on the trail.  Almost as if a reward for reaching the trail you will be greeted by Munra Falls, a 68 foot waterfall that rushes so closely to the trail you can reach out and touch it.

From here the trail continues mildly up the canyon and beneath the cliffs until your reach a junction in which you can choose to go left or right.  It does not matter which way you go as this is a loop.  Left takes you to Wahclella Falls and right takes you to Wahclella Falls.  So make like Robert Frost and see if you can pick the road less traveled (hint, it is impossible they are equally traveled).  For the sake of this write-up we are going to go left.

You will continue shortly up the mild canyon, ascend brief flight of stairs then descend to Wahclella Falls.  From the junction the waterfall is less than 5 minutes away if you hike at a regular speed.  Take pictures, go to the base of the falls, let your pooch go for a swim and enjoying the cooling mist of Wahclella Falls.

Moving on you will want to continue looking back at the falls as there is second tier to Wahclella Falls that is difficult to see from the base.  When you cross the bridge look back for another great view.  From here you will pass a rocky overhang that resembles a small cave and then follow the trail back to the junction.

A Note About Safety

Under Cave looking at icefall on trail

Under Cave looking at icefall on trail

This hike follows a trail that is located at the foot of cliffs the entire way.  On this hike you will see evidence of rock falls and debris coming down from above you.  This is especially true during the depths of winter when ice forms on the cliffs and melts when it gets warm.  We completed this hike in January during a thaw following a very ice period.  When we reached the area of the hike where the trail goes by a small cave a very large sheet of ice came loose from the cliffs above us and landed directly on the trail.  We cheated death by 10 seconds and a lot of luck.

Please keep in mind that anytime you hike in the Gorge it is a good idea to always pay attention to the cliffs above you no matter what time of year it is.  Loose rock and debris is constantly coming down and hanging out under cliffs longer than you need to is a bad idea.

How to get to Wahclella Falls

This is probably one of the easier trail heads to find.  Heading both east or west on Highway 84 you want to take exit 40 for Bonneville Dam.  If you are coming from the west (Portland) you will take the first right after exiting the highway and then another hard right down a slight hill until you find the trail head parking lot.

Coming from the east (Hood River) again take exit 40 for Bonneville Dam and then take a left after exiting the highway crossing underneath the overpass.  Once you pass under the highway take your first right down the short hill to the parking lot.

A Northwest Forest Pass is required or you can purchase a day pass at the kiosk.

Adventure Stats

  • Hike Difficulty: Easy
  • Hike Distance: 2 miles round trip
  • Congestion: Very Busy
  • Trail head Fee: Yes
  • Best time to visit: After rainfall during mid week or early morning

Other Resources

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