Drift Creek Falls Hike
From Portland Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Drift Creek Falls Trailhead
- End point: Drift Creek Falls
- Trail Log: Trail Log
- Hike Type: Out and Back
- Distance: 3.0 miles round trip
- Elevation gain: 490 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Seasons: Year round
- Family Friendly: Yes
- Backpackable: No
- Crowded: Yes
This hike offers something for everyone, a waterfall, a huge suspension bridge and a nice view of Coast Range forest. The trail is wide and well maintained. The only flaw may be that it's elevation backwards; you have a nice stroll down, then you need to climb back out.
The trail starts by slabbing down a ridge toward the east. The trail is timbered in 50 year old regrowth, but there's a nearby clear cut, visible through the trees. Together, they create an interesting study of the forest healing itself. After a bit, the trail reaches the end of the ridge, rounds it and heads back westward into a small side canyon. You may hear voices from across the way and soon you'll see that the trail goes back down the other side of the valley, creating a charming little U turn with a couple of small bridges over trickling, seasonal creeks. Just past the U, there's a trail junction. The uphill trail is an alternate route to the same place. It's not as well maintained as the main trail and it provides (or curses you) with more elevation gain.
Continuing down the main trail, you'll again round a ridge and start heading down to a larger stream. You'll hear the water as you descend. Towards the bottom the trail gets into a marshy area that can be overgrown in the spring and summer. Watch out for stinging nettles here. That alternate route rejoins the main trail here, just before the trail reaches the stream. There's a pretty safe area for kids to wade in the creek here, as well. The trail continues down the creek a bit, before crossing it on a decent sized bridge.
Beyond this upper bridge, the trail passes a few large trees and there's another near miss with a fresher clear cut. Soon, you'll come to "The" bridge. This suspension bridge kind of sneaks up on you. You crest a small knoll and suddenly you've arrived at one of the most interesting locations in the coast range. The creek we've been following suddenly plunges 75 feet into the Drift Creek Canyon and the trail stays level, spanning the 100 foot deep canyon by hanging from cables. It really has to be seen to be appreciated. At the far end of the bridge is a picnic table. The trail continues down to the bottom of the falls, but beyond the end of the bridge, it's pretty treacherous, particularly in wet weather.
- Maps: Hike Finder
Fees, Regulations, etc.
- Northwest Forest Pass required at trailhead
- Search Trip Reports for Drift Creek
Related Discussions / Q&A
- Search Trail Q&A for Drift Creek
Guidebooks that cover this hike
- 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Portland, by Paul Gerald
- 100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range, by William Sullivan
- Forest Service page for Drift Creek Falls
- Article on Suspension Bridge from the Seattle Times
- Paul Gerald's book 60 hikes within 60 miles of Portland