Elowah Falls and Upper McCord Creek Falls
March 30, 2009
This was an early season "sampler" hike in the Columbia River Gorge. I
was accompanied on this one by Peter, my 10 year old grandson. He was
enjoying his spring vacation from school. I picked him up at home and
we quickly zipped up the Gorge from the Portland area. Upon reaching
exit 35 along I-84 and heading another couple of miles eastward, we reached
the Yeon Park trailhead. There are two water falls that we wished to
visit with one virtually at the top of the other. We headed for the
higher one at the start. The hike is through mossy forest with
nothing but green except for a handful of early season Trillium. We
hiked through a few switch backs and finally emerged at a mossy cliff with
a trail blasted in the side.
This shows Peter at the side of the trail with a drop-off
of 300 to 400 feet below him. Peter had found a hiking stick on the
This view shows Peter beside the trail's edge with the top of Elowah
Falls in back of him. He had pulled the hood from his jacket up over
his head, for the moss on the walls was dripping on us.
We continued the hike for another part of a mile until we reached
a point on Upper McCord Creek where we could see the Upper Falls. It
is hard to judge the scale in this photo. However, these falls are
nearly 100 ft high. The "twig" resting on the island between
the creek sections is around 70 feet long and 2 or more feet in diameter near
the base, which has been uprooted by a winter storm, probably a few years
Here's another view of Upper McCord Creek Falls. We had planned
on eating some lunch somewhere on the stream above here, but the brush was
to thick across the trail shortly after this to allow it. This was
essentially the end of this trail segment, so nothing was missed.
We now backtracked for much of the hike until reaching the trail to the
base of Elowah. This took us down several switch backs to the creek
below the falls. We approached the falls, but found the mist so thick
and so much water on the trail that we again stopped. After backtracking
just a little, I snapped another photo of Peter.
I'm sure the heavy mist from the Falls would feel great on a warm
summer day. Today, it was chilling.
This shot shows the full 290 foot extent of Elowah Falls.
It had been raining a lot in the past couple of weeks and the creeks were
all flowing heavily.
Having sampled a couple of the many water falls of the Gorge,
it was time to head home. It was a great hike with more of a winter
flavor than the date would suggest. This was a good season opener,
made better because I had Peter along.