The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a waterfall lovers dream place to explore. On the Oregon side alone, there are 77 major waterfalls (though I’m sure there are more that are just seasonal flows)!! This past Saturday, I decided to head out and explore just a few of these beauties.
My first stop was Wahkeena Falls, a tiered waterfall that plunges a total of 242 feet. Don’t just stop at the signed parking area though…take the time to hike up to the bridge crossing over the falls. It’s well worth the hike up.
Next up on my waterfall checklist was Horsetail Falls, a 176 foot plunge just east of Multnomah Falls.
From there, I hiked up to Ponytail Falls (also known as Upper Horsetail Falls), where Horsetail Creek drops 88 feet over a basalt ledge before continuing downstream where it’ll eventually meet up with the Columbia River.
The sun decided to come out at this point, creating some very harsh light, so I decided to drive up to Hood River and cross over to the Washington side of the river and up onto the Dallas Mountain Ranch Road to scope out the wildflowers. In years past, the hills have been covered in a purple and gold carpet of lupine and balsam root that seems to go on for miles. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be this year as there was very little that was still blooming. Not to be discouraged, I crossed back over the Columbia River into The Dalles, Oregon, to head up to the Rowena Crest and the Tom McCall Nature Preserve, another wildflower hotspot. At the parking area, the wildflowers were well past their prime, so I decided to hike up to the upper meadows in the hope that there were still some flowers blooming. I wasn’t disappointed either; though not spectacular, there were enough blooms to remember why I was sweating my way to the upper meadows. A rattlesnake was enjoying sunning himself in the middle of the trail which was my clue that it was time to turn around and head back to the car, especially since I still had one more area I wanted to explore a little bit before I headed home.
Once I made it back into the Gorge, I found some parking along Eagle Creek (a very popular trail that has 4 great waterfalls along it) and walked along a portion of historic Highway 30 that has been restored for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. It wasn’t long before I found my destination – Ruckle Creek – a photographer’s paradise.
After photographing around the creek a little bit, I decided to forgo exploring the trail upstream further as it was starting to get late in the afternoon and I still had a long drive to get home. I wasn’t quite done yet though, so I made my way back down to where the trail head met up with historic Highway 30 and started walking back towards the car. Before going very far, I veered off onto a rough path through a field and made my way down to Lower Ruckle Creek Falls. I can only imagine what the rest of the falls on this trail look like. Needless to say, I plan on exploring this area further.
Until the next adventure….