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Lewis River Waterfall Hike

From Portland Hikers Field Guide

Lower Lewis River Falls (Steve Hart)
Middle Lewis River Falls (Steve Hart)
Upper Lewis River Falls (Steve Hart)
Lower Copper Creek Falls (Steve Hart)


Hike Description

This is one of the premier waterfall hikes in our area.

From the Lower Lewis River Falls Trailhead make your way down any of the use paths to views of Lower Falls. The trail on the edge of the bluff is the Lewis River Trail (#31). Walk to the right as far as you like for different views of the waterfall. There are dozens of different segments and literally hundreds of vastly different photographic possibilities. There are a couple of informal side paths that lead to the river for views at water level. When you've had your fill of Lower Falls head back up the Lewis River Trail.

Continue past the trailhead and the restrooms. This first part of the trail travels through the large campground and is quite busy. There are lots of use paths, but if you stay right, you can't go wrong. Soon you'll climb a small hill to the edge of the campground. There's a sign here marking the Lewis River Trail. Continue east up the hill and head upriver.

The trail soon passes quite near FR 90 and you may hear and see cars. After a bit though the trail drops away from the road. There's a small footbridge above a seasonal waterfall. This bridge is currently unsafe and closed. Hikers can pass on the upstream side of the bridge. (observed 2008-10-26) The concrete remains of Sheep Bridge are soon visible near the river. Next you'll come to a couple of trail junctions, first with the Wright Meadows Trail, the second with the Middle Falls Trail. Both of these trails provide alternate access from FR 90.

Next comes a bridge over Copper Creek. Copper Creek flows under the bridge and immediately slides over a block of basalt forming Lower Copper Creek Falls. Walk about 100 feet farther and you'll find a rough path leading back to the base of the waterfall. During low water, you can walk out on the rocks from this same place, to get a good view of Middle Falls. Returning to the trail, there's a good view of Middle Falls from a switchback.

The trail switches up the hill here a bit to another junction with the Middle Falls Trail. Copper Creek Falls is about 1/4 mile up this trail. Back on the main trail you'll walk about a mile to the base of Upper Falls. There's a lot of alder growing up here, but there are still a couple of decent viewpoints. The first one involves walking out on a large log to the edge of the river. The second viewpoint is easier. Just stay on the main trail, cross Alec Creek on a bridge and when the trail switches back, you'll find a great view.

The next part of the trail is a steep climb, but the climb is short and the rewards are great. The trail works up the side of the Alec Creek Canyon gaining about 150 feet in a quarter mile. Then the trail heads back along the top of the bluff to the top of Upper Falls. There's a short side trail that leads down to a couple of great views.

The last waterfall is the smallest of the bunch, but it's only a 1/4 mile, so it's worth the trip. This is Taitnapum Falls. There's no access to the river here, so your only view is the from the trail. When you're done here, return the way you came.


Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Northwest Forest Pass required at Lower Falls Recreation Area

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

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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.