Siouxon Creek Hike
From Portland Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Siouxon Trailhead
- End Point: Chinook Falls
- Trail Log:
- Hike Type: Lollipop loop
- Distance: 8.2 miles round-trip
- Elevation gain: 1615 feet
- High Point: 1,560 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Seasons: Spring through Fall
- Family Friendly: Yes (to Chinook Falls)
- Backpackable: Yes (many campsites along the creek)
- Crowded: Yes
The Gifford Pinchot National Forest’s Siouxon Roadless Area is part of the 1902 Yacolt Burn and the lush growth here is really a 100-year forest although much of it is younger than that because fires continued to erupt in the area until 1930 or so, when the Civilian Conservation Corps came in and built trails and firebreaks. This loop takes you to some of the main waterfalls of the Siouxon Basin along the undulating Siouxon Trail. Most visitors are entranced by the deep green and lush shadiness of this valley and the constant proximity to water. While Siouxon Falls, about two miles in on the trail, is a short destination for some, many will hike to the footbridge over the river to the more spectacular Chinook Falls. This is where most hikers seem to stop, as the Chinook Creek crossing can be a knee-deep ford in the spring when the falls are at their best. More adventurous waterfall aficionados, however, will want to make this crossing and hike the Wildcat Trail up to a view to the ribbon-like Wildcat Falls, again best viewed at times of high water. To close the loop, those lacking any sort of squeamishness will need to make the deep ford at the Siouxon at Wildcat Creek Crossing to return to the Siouxon Trail (This can be waist deep for some). Otherwise, you will have to return via Chinook Creek for an even longer hike! (Also consider whether you want to submit your dog to these latter travails.) One more piece of information: Siouxon is pronounced thus: "SOO-sahn"
- Siouxon Falls Viewpoint: 4 miles in and out
- Chinook Falls: 7.7 miles in and out
- Wildcat Falls-Siouxon ford: 8.2 miles lollipop loop
- Wildcat Falls backtrack (avoiding the Siouxon ford): 9.8 miles in and out
From the parking area, hike fifty yards down to the Siouxon Trail #130 and go right. Descend in a lush slope forest of Douglas-fir and western hemlock with a carpet of oxalis and sword fern. Note the large snags from the period of the Yacolt Burn. Take the footbridge over West Creek and note the campsites below the trail in this area. Hike a level stretch of trail above lovely Siouxon Creek, pass another campsite, and then a false trail leading to the right. Keep to the main trail to reach the Siouxon-Horseshoe Ridge Trail West Junction. Keep straight and drop gently. A detour takes you away from the undercut creek bank. Undulate along, passing under a dripping mossy face and come to Horseshoe Creek. A short path down to the left gives you a good look at Horseshoe Creek Falls' upper tier. Cross Horseshoe Creek on a footbridge and come to the unsigned Siouxon-Horseshoe Creek Falls Trail Junction. This spur trail takes you down to an area of campsites on a bench and also a more complete view of triple-tiered 60-foot Horseshoe Creek Falls.
Back on the Siouxon Trail, cross a small creek and continue past more campsites. Reach the rotting bench at the viewpoint to Siouxon Falls. The creek here plunges noisily through a rocky cleft and forms a large pool which is great for a dip on a sultry summer day. Continuing on the trail drops. There is a spur to the top of a small waterfall on Siouxon Creek. Descend to a lush bottomland and rise again. Pass some campsites and reach the Siouxon-Siouxon Crossing Trail Junction marked for the Wildcat Trail. This is where you will return to the Siouxon Trail if you complete the lollipop loop.
Soon come to the Siouxon-Horseshoe Ridge Trail East Junction and continue along the creek. Walk about fifty feet above Siouxon Creek, passing a small waterfall and then a dripping rock face. Get views of the maple-shaded creek and pass the confluence with Chinook Creek. Make a very slippery crossing of a small creek that makes several drops to the Siouxon. Reach the Siouxon-Chinook Trail Junction at a footbridge over a deep narrows and go left.
Look upstream to rushing 14-mile Falls and pass campsites on the Chinook Trail #130A. Head up Chinook Creek, noting a small falls down to the left and pass an unmarked trail leading up to the right: this is old Siouxon Trail alignment, still easily followed, that runs up Siouxon Creek's east slope. Reach the crossing below Chinook Falls. The 60-foot waterfall is best viewed from mid-creek or the west bank. The crossing here is easy but, as there is no bridge, you will have to get your feet wet. Carry poles for better balance. If you don’t want to do this and have no stomach for the more difficult Siouxon at Wildcat Creek Crossing, then enjoy the view and turn around.
If you are continuing, you will reach the Chinook-Wildcat Trail Junction. Keep left here as the Wildcat Trail #136 rises high above the creek. Soon, however, it drops to a lush flat and reaches Wildcat Creek. While you can keep dry here, the crossing is treacherous because the creek is blocked by numerous large, slippery logs and the rocks themselves are slippery. Reach the other side and find the Wildcat-Siouxon Crossing Trail Junction.
Since you are at this spot, you might as well head up the Wildcat Trail about a third of a mile to view spectacular Wildcat Falls. You will pass 40-foot Lower Wildcat Falls and a 25-foot slide falls, both only partially visible from the trail. At a sharp switchback below a rock face, there’s a view across to Wildcat Falls’ lovely amphitheater. This is just the lower 125 feet of the falls, with another two tiers totaling 100 feet not really visible above.
Return to the junction at Siouxon Creek and contemplate the Siouxon at Wildcat Creek Crossing. It may be possible, in late summer/early fall to keep your feet dry here, but most of the year you will be fording in fairly deep water - up to the waist sometimes for an average height adult female. The water is clear and does not run too swiftly, but you need poles to help with balance. Feel your way and, if you don’t want to get your boots wet, bring some other kind of thick-soled footwear that won’t float off your feet (i.e. no flip-flops). DO NOT do this crossing if the Siouxon is running angrily after a heavy rainstorm and you can’t see the bottom. Unbuckle your pack so you can slip it off in the event of a fall (Your pack can drag you under and drown you). It’s a two-mile retreat back to the exit spot on the opposite bank if you don’t want to make the attempt. Once at the other side, reach the Siouxon-Siouxon Crossing Trail Junction marked for the Wildcat Trail, and make the undulating three-mile jaunt back to the Siouxon Trailhead.
Fees, Regulations, etc.
- Pass not required
- To do the whole loop, there are two deep fords and a treacherous crossing of Wildcat Creek (See Tips for Crossing Streams).
- Green Trails Maps: Lookout Mtn, WA #396 (Some trail alignments not updated)
- Siouxon Roadless Area (USFS)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument & Administrative Area
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
- Search Trip Reports for Siouxon Creek Hike
- Lush and green at Siouxon Creek - 6/14/2014
- Siouxon Creek_bumpy roads_bridge out? 5/11/14
- Siouxon Creek for my first backpacking experience
- Siouxon Creek 11 April 2014
- Siouxon Creek playground
- Siouxon Creek Trail To Chinook Falls 7.7.13
- Super green lushness at Siouxon Creek 5/12/13
- Siouxon Creek Trail (April 14)
- Siouxon Creek 3/15-16/13
- Siouxon Creek 08-21-2010
- Siouxon Creek 4-28-2010
Related Discussions / Q&A
- Search Trail Q&A for Siouxon Creek Hike
Guidebooks that cover this hike
- Best Hikes Near Portland by Fred Barstad
- 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
- Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
- Day Hiking: South Cascades by Dan A. Nelson & Alan L. Bauer
- 33 Hiking Trails: Southern Washington Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
- 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
- One Night Wilderness: Portland by Douglas Lorain
- Hiking Washington's Mount Adams Country by Fred Barstad
- Washington Hikes by Scott Leonard
- Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Megan McMorris
- Hiking the Gifford Pinchot Backcountry by the Columbia Group Sierra Club
- Trail #130 Siouxon (USFS)
- Siouxon Creek Hike (Northwest Hiker)
- "Hike along the Siouxon Creek Trail" (Examiner.com)
- Glaciation in the Lower Lewis River Basin, Southwestern Cascade Range, Washington (Washington State University)
- bobcat (creator)