Sunday, October 15, 2023

Coffee Creek Falls

Here are a few photos of Oregon City's Coffee Creek Falls, which is conveniently located right on South End Road, literally right next to the road, a bit south and uphill from downtown Oregon City. Let's get the bad news out of the way first: There is no actual coffee here. Not even decaf. It's just plain old water like every other creek out there. The same is true of the more famous Coffee Creek down in Wilsonville, the one with the womens' prison named after it. No caffeine in that creek either. Same goes for the Coffee Creek in Douglas County, which was the site of a brief gold rush in the 1850s. Based on a bit of light googling there are probably dozens of Coffee Creeks scattered around the state, possibly because the water was a bit muddy when someone named it and it reminded them of terrible pioneer-era coffee. That or people just thought about coffee constantly, which is understandable. Still, the name kind of gets your hopes up and then dashes them, and maybe once the geographic naming authorities finish up renaming all the places currently named with racial or religious slurs, after that they can start in on renaming non-caffeinated places and things named after coffee, on the grounds of false advertising. That or figure out how to add caffeine to these creeks and lakes and whatnot, and I have no idea how that would work.

You might have guessed, correctly, by the previous paragraph that I don't have a lot of source material for this post. The usual waterfall fandom sites don't mention it for some reason. And getting to the falls doesn't require any actual hiking, so the usual hiking and outdoor websites don't mention it either. And it doesn't appear that any interesting historical events have ever happened here, at least going by local newspaper archives. So once again I had to resort to the state LIDAR map (see here) just to try to guess how tall the thing is. The part you see here is probably around 20', but LIDAR seems to indicate there's more of a drop up above this that isn't visible from street level, so that it may be closer to 50' or even 75' high depending on where you measure from. And then the creek continues dropping on the other side of the road, too, so the total drop from what looks like the top of the hill down to the Willamette River comes to around 350'. I don't have any photos of that part of the creek and I have no idea whether it ought to be included or not.

The falls do appear in a few places online, at least. There's a page about it at

OregonWaterfalls, and a Waymarking page, and a YouTube video from 2015 and even an Urban Adventure League Flickr photo. As for official governmental stuff, there's, well, a photo of the falls on a city 'natural resources' page and brief mentions of it in connection with some current and ongoing public works projects, and that's about it. Oh, and a fairly recent water quality report on OC-area creeks. Coffee Creek did relatively well in some catetories and worse in others, most notably in bacteria numbers. Just passing that along in case you were still thinking about drinking the water, on the outside chance that I'm wrong and there's caffeine here after all.

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