Saturday, June 25, 2011

Herman Creek Trail

Last Sunday was Father's Day and I decided I'd better stick around the house and spend time with my hubby.  But when Roger got up and saw me sitting around, he asked "aren't you going hiking?" sounded like he was giving me permission to go.  So I packed up Bear and off I went!

Obligatory trail sign photo

Not getting out of the house until mid-morning limited my hiking to someplace a short drive away.  I pointed my car towards the Columbia River Gorge.  There's always someplace great to hike in the Gorge.  I decided to try the Herman Creek Trail.  That's one trail I've yet to explore.

"C'mon, let's go!"

I've hiked small portions of the Herman Creek Trail usually on my way to other destinations.  It's the trail you start off on to access Nick Eaton Ridge and Indian Point, and many backpackers use it to get to Wahtum Lake.  Usually when I've started from this trail, I climb up (way up!) to Nick Eaton Ridge.  This time however, I was staying down low, and simply following the creek.

Surprise waterfall along the trail

The trail started out with a gradual, but endless climb.  I followed a nice wide road for some distance until it finally narrowed up into a mere path.  Bear and I trekked through some beautiful woods, with the sound of Herman creek flowing far below us. 

Bottom of waterfall

My hiking guidebook briefly mentioned there was a waterfall along this trail.  I got the impression it wasn't very big.  However, when I came upon the falls, I was pleasantly surprised to find a large, beautiful cascade.  The waterfall was about 100 feet tall, and located in a pleasant mossy grotto.  I unsuccessfully tried to fit the entire thing in a photo.  When that didn't work I instead took many separate photos of the top and the bottom.  Look at both the above images together and you'll get an idea of the waterfall's scale.

Mossy oak trees line the trail

Soon after we left the waterfall, I began to see flowers in the woods.  First some sunny yellow blooms, then a few strands of lupine, and then an entire hillside of pink and yellow flowers (which I couldn't identify!).  There were also some cool, mossy old oak trees perched on the slope below the trail.

Entering the wilderness area

I saw a couple groups of backpackers returning from their weekend outings.  Judging from the number of people I saw, this must be a popular place to camp. 

Columbine flower

I saw lots of lovely columbine flowers decorating the forest floor.  This was the best photo I captured of the bunch.

Gigantic trees

Bear and I also hiked through some really impressive old growth forests.  Those trees were huge!

Sunny yellow blossoms

When I came to a junction with the Casey Creek trail, my guidebook mentioned you could hike down a rough path 0.3 of a mile to reach Herman Creek itself.  I located the said trail and started down.  It was super steep!  While sliding down a especially treacherous pitch, I got to thinking, if I go all the way down this, I've got to hike back up it again.  And it's gonna be a bear to climb back up.  I decided I didn't really want to see Herman Creek that badly, and turned around.

Lovely tiger lily

After my aborted attempt to see the creek, I decided I'd hiked far enough and headed back to my car.  I normally like to do loop hikes, because it's fun to see new things along the entire route.  But this trail was just as nice on my return trip.  I got to see all of the lovely flowers a second time.  And I enjoyed another stop at the waterfall for one more quick photo session.

Another great tiger lily

A very short distance from the trailhead I spied two tiger lily flowers blowing in the breeze.  I absolutely love wild tiger lilies, and immediately got out my camera to try and get a couple of good shots.  The wind was blowing strong, so it was difficult to capture the blooms sitting still.  I ended up holding the stem of one plant with my free hand, and clicking the shutter with the other.  I did manage to get a couple of images I liked.

Another great hike!  I didn't expect a lot from this trail, but was pleasantly surprised by an awesome waterfall, a stand of stately old trees, and a bunch of colorful blossoms.  I guess you never know what you're going to find when you visit the Gorge.



  1. I have never even heard of a red columbine! That is gorgeous! What a beautiful wilderness area! I'd love to hike it someday. So bummed to not get the opportunity to meet you :( I am surprised.

  2. Yeah, I was really bummed I didn't get picked. But I'm glad you did! You will have a good time. I thought about hanging out at Timberline Lodge during H2C just to see if I could find the Nuun van and meet all the ladies anyway! :)


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