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Falls Creek Falls Loop Hike

From Portland Hikers Field Guide

Falls Creek Falls (Curtis Barnard)
Suspension bridge (cfm)
The mossy banks of Falls Creek (bobcat)
Black helvella, Falls Creek (bobcat)


Contents

Hike Description

The lower trail begins along the south side of the creek in a young forest of Douglas-fir. About 100 yards from the trailhead, bear right at the junction marked for Falls Creek Falls; the left hand trail marked for the horse camp will be your return route on the loop. The first half mile of the hike has several points where you and the kids can scramble down to the creek bed. Smooth rocks and several small pools invite wading, but the water remains icy cold through the summer. After another half mile, the path rises above the creekbed and the gentle stream is funneled through a small carved basalt canyon, which roars in the spring. Cross to the north side of the creek on a suspension bridge above the the narrow chasm and you will get a good look at how the water has carved its way through the basalt.

After the suspension bridge, the forest is more mature with plenty of snags and old growth giants of cedar and fir. Hike another mile upstream and go past the signed connector trail to the Upper Falls Creek Trail. Cross another footbridge and round a large bend in the trail and you will start to hear the roar of Falls Creek Falls. The trail will take you right up to a front row view of the thundering waters. Large boulders scattered around the viewing area provide good seats and picnic tables.

To continue on the loop, return on the lower trail to the well marked junction, and turn uphill an a steep rutted path that climbs .2 miles to the upper trail. Turn right and travel a mile to reach the top of the falls, but along the way look for one of several short user trails on your right. Any of these side trails will take you to the edge of the cliffs that provide the best viewpoints of the upper tier of the falls. There is a nice flat landing at the very top of the falls. It does not provide a good view of the cascade itself, but allows a sweeping view west into the Falls Creek valley and the mountains beyond. There is a steep scramble path down to the creek before it plunges over the edge, not suitable for little ones.

After exploring the top of the falls, return via the upper trail (Trail 152). Continue on Trail 152 past the upper junction of the connector trail a further 1.7 miles, enjoying a gradual descent through woods. Look for a path to the left that leads to a footbridge. (If you end up on an abandoned road, you've gone too far.) Cross the bridge and bear left. The parking lot is an easy six-tenths of a mile walk away.

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Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Portland by Paul Gerald

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Contributors

Portland Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.