Monday, August 20, 2007

Some Waterfalls in the Gorge


Bridal Veil Falls, in Bridal Veil State Park. When I stopped by last week, I had a curious experience: Nothing looked familiar. I'm sure I've been there before, I must've been, and on more than one occasion I've driven right by figuring there was no need to stop, as I'd been there not too long before. But the more I think about it, it must've been a very long time indeed. If ever. Because it all looked new to me, rightly or wrongly. I like to think I know that part of the gorge like the back of my hand, so it was quite an odd feeling.

There's a short trail down to the falls, and an even shorter, flat trail that the signs describe as a "walking/interpretive" trail, with some native plants to observe, etc. The latter sounds pretty boring, so that I'm quite certain I'd never taken it before. I figured I would this time just on a lark, and it turns out the trail also leads to high cliffs over the Columbia, with vistas stretching for miles in all directions. Once there I recognized the fences at cliff's edge, having seen them from the freeway. I'd always wondered what they were for. I'd post some pics from the overlook, but this post is about waterfalls, and I do hate to wander off topic.

Bridal Veil Falls is not to be confused with the many other waterfalls by the same name. There's one in Yosemite, one that's part of Niagara Falls, and others in North Carolina, Utah, British Columbia, and elsewhere.


Youngs Creek Falls, Shepperd's Dell State Park. Or you could just call it Shepperd's Dell Falls. A lot of people do, including myself when I'm not feeling pedantic. And yes, it's really spelled "Shepperd", not "Shepherd", because the guy who donated the land spelled his surname that way.

That's a lot of naming confusion to have for such a small place. There's a small parking lot, and a very short trail down to the top of the falls. No connecting trails or anything, so once you've been down and back, you're pretty much done here and it's time to move along to the next one down the road, which is Bridal Veil if you're heading eastbound.


Multnomah Falls. Like, duh.


Latourell Falls, Guy W. Talbot State Park. The tiny town of Latourell is nearby, although you can't see it from the main road. Nothing much to see or do there, though.

This one may be my personal favorite in the Gorge, although Elowah Falls (not pictured) is a good candidate too. And there are still a few I haven't tracked down yet, so nothing's set in stone.

And no, the name is not spelled with an 'e' on the end.


Wahkeena Falls. If you're lucky enough to run across any really old books about the Gorge, Wahkeena was once called Gordon Falls, long, long ago. That's about the only interesting bit of trivia I know about the place. It's never been my favorite, although I've never been able to put my finger on why that is. I dunno, maybe the feng shui is out of whack or something.

You might look at a map and notice Benson State Park right next door, with its cool and (allegedly) safe for swimmin' lake. You can't get there from here, though, at least not without crossing some very busy railroad tracks, and I seem to recall there were very official-looking signs ordering you not to even think of crossing there. There also isn't a path between Benson State Park and Multnomah Falls. Maybe that's because Benson is a fee area, and they don't want people sneaking in from across the tracks lugging a raft to avoid the $3 day use fee. Or maybe it's because both waterfalls are on Forest Service land and Benson's run by the state, and the two agencies just don't collaborate on projects for whatever reason. Beats me.


Starvation Creek Falls, west of Hood River at Starvation Creek State Park. The name comes from a train that was temporarily stranded here by snow back in the 1880s. Nobody actually starved, though. The name's just a bit of Victorian melodrama.

You may recall Starvation Creek as the highway rest area that was closed for quite a few years after the plumbing failed and the state had no money for repairs. Instead of putting closed signs on the restrooms themselves, they closed the whole thing, blocked off the offramp and everything. I've never understood why they did that. Anyway, everything's supposed to be all fine and dandy now, at least until our fair state's next financial or infrastructural crisis comes along.


Horsetail Falls is right next to the old Gorge Highway, so it can be amusing to sit for a bit and watch people driving by taking their tourist photos without even stopping, much less getting out of their cars. When the passenger's taking photos as the driver gabs on a cell phone, you're almost moved to pity. When they return home, they'll wonder why they don't feel any more relaxed than they did before leaving on vacation.

There are a couple of even more photogenic falls up the trail a ways, but most people just call it quits without getting past the parking lot. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but the day I took this I numbered among those people. At least I got out of my car, though. And really I have an excuse: I've got to hurry around like a madman to keep up with the incessant demands of this humble blog's zillions of Gentle Reader(s). If I don't generate new content on a regular basis, people will show up at my door with torches and pitchforks. That's not actually true, of course, but I only said it was my excuse, and I never claimed it was a very credible excuse.

Mosier Creek Falls

Mosier Creek Falls, Mosier OR. Last week, I'd made it a goal to try to track down at least one waterfall I'd never been to before. First I was going to try to find Coopey Falls, but it's on the grounds of a convent, and I chickened out at the thought of nuns. And I missed the super-obscure trailhead for Mist Falls, even though it's just down the road from Wahkeena Falls. So I eventually ended up all the way out in Mosier, between Hood River and The Dalles, and they've got a waterfall right in town. I think it's actually a city park, not state or federal, if I read the signs right. You follow the Columbia River Highway signs until you cross the bridge over Mosier Creek. On your right, you'll see a sign for the local pioneer cemetery. Take the trail leading to the cemetery. Trust me on this. The cemetery itself isn't too overwhelming, with maybe a dozen headstones, tops. To your right, Mosier Creek flows in a deep canyon. If you continue along the trail, there's a sign announcing you're at "Pocket Park", with all sorts of dire warnings about primitive trails, rattlesnakes, and such. I didn't see any snakes, and I didn't find the trail especially primitive (by my standards, anyway), so maybe they're just trying to ward off non-taxpaying out-of-towners or something. After a short walk, you'll see the falls.

I admit this isn't the best picture ever. The light was at a very difficult angle, and you can tell from the rocks that there's a lot more water going over the falls other times of the year. Pretty much anytime other than midsummer, I imagine. But this was primarily a scouting trip, so you take what you can get.

I ran across a site a while ago with some pics of a guy taking a kayak down these falls, when the creek was running a bit higher. I've lost the link now, but if I find it again I'll post it here.

Shady Creek Falls

Shady Creek Falls, right near Multnomah Falls. Never heard of it, right? If you take the trail up to the famous bridge at Multnomah Falls, you'll cross a smaller stream at one point. If you look upstream/uphill, you'll notice there's another waterfall way up there. There's no sign telling you the name of the thing, and I didn't realize it even had a name. And officially it doesn't, but over the years it seems the stream's often been called Shady Creek, and thus the falls are Shady Creek Falls. So now you know.

I've never thought they were especially impressive so far as waterfalls go, although it's also true that you really don't get a very good look at them. The falls proper are way up the slope, and the main thing you see from the trail is the creek burbling its way steeply downhill. So it's hard to say, really.

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