Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tamanawas Falls

Yahoo!  A Friday off from work!  Time for some hiking.

But.....the weatherman predicted rain, AND dummy me scheduled a hair appointment for that very morning (what was I thinking??)  No matter, despite rain and obligations, I was determined to get outside.  The grand plan was to leave right after my appointment, and pack raingear (after last weekend's wet trek, I'm fast becoming a rainy hiking expert).

Size matters!  Click on any image to enjoy a larger version.

Obligatory trail sign photo

With limited time, I needed to pick a short trail.  Figuring the east side of Mt. Hood might be a little bit drier, I chose the Tamanawas Falls Trail.  Fall colors were likely peaking here, and this short trail packs a lot of scenery in two short miles.  Following cute, burbling Cold Spring Creek, it meanders through scenic woods, past a recent rockslide, to an amazing waterfall at canyon's end.

Second bridge crossing

The word Tamanawas means "friendly guardian spirit" in the language of the Northwest Native Americans.  I'm not quite sure how one pronounces this name (but if you can, try and say it three times fast!)

Bear poses by the footbridge

It was almost noon when I finally hit the road.  Intermittent rain speckled my windshield throughout the drive.  But rounding the Northeast corner of Mt. Hood about 5 miles from the trailhead, something wonderful happened.  The sun came out.  By the time I pulled into the parking area, blue sky was fast replacing clouds.  Wow!  This was unexpected!  (But most welcome)

Rare sunlight on the leaves

Bear and I struck out on the trail.  From the parking lot, it immediately crossed the East Fork of the Hood River on a marvelous log footbridge.  Then the path climbed through dense forest, accented by bright yellow fall leaves.  Paralleling Highway 35 for the first half mile, vegetation breaks gave way to brief glimpses of the road and it's massive rock slope.

Tunnel of yellow

Then the trail led away from the road, winding down through more forest to a second footbridge spanning Cold Spring Creek.  A stunningly scenic spot, I paused to capture images of the bridge and creek.  Mossy green boulders broke through churning water.  Fallen leaves and brown needles littered the bank.  More golden yellow trees peeped from behind the bridge span. 

Lovely yellow forest accents

After crossing over the second footbridge, the path continued on, following Cold Spring Creek.  We came upon an area dominated by yellow-leaved trees.  They hung over the trail, almost enclosing our path.  It was like being in a bright yellow tunnel.

Mossy rocks in Cold Spring Creek

Fall colors and small river rapids made for frequent photo breaks.  As per my usual, progress was slow.  But having all afternoon to hike a short distance freed me up to stop whenever something photogenic caught my eye.  (And, as you can imagine, there was lots that did!)

Another scenic creek photo

Although yellow was the dominant fall color here, I did discover an area of unusual plants with leaves of bright red.  I'm bad at plant names, so no guesses as to what it might be.  Made for nice photographs, though!

Vibrant red leaves

Nearing the falls, the canyon walls narrowed and my trail snaked through a debris field from a recent landslide.  I'm unsure exactly when this event happened, but I'm told it was within the last few years. It must've been enormous.  The debris field was at least 0.2 of a mile long, and extended almost one hundred feet upwards from the creek.  Looking above the trail you could see a massive cliff where the rocks cleaved from.  Down in the creek, I spotted the remains of an old footbridge swept away with the slide.  The awesome power of nature!

Base of the huge rockslide

After traversing the rockslide, the trail dived back into the forest for a short stretch.  And then up ahead, the rock walls parted, and there at the canyon's end was the waterfall I sought.

The falls makes an appearance at canyon's end

Tamanawas Falls!  The steep basalt walls and yellow/green foliage made for a beautiful setting.  I set up my tripod and got to work.

The rocky amphitheater makes a good backdrop

After making a few images from afar, I traveled closer to the waterfall's lacy cascade.  The delicate white curtain looked even better up close.   Rainfall from the previous week swelled it's volume, and water thundered over the canyon wall.  This impressive falls was tall - measuring 100 feet in height.

Creek-level view

Wading through a small creeklet got me as close to the waterfall's base as I dared.  The rocks were super-slippery, and I didn't want to risk a fall.  I love this last image, looking creek-level to the cascade's base.  It was a magical place.  After making a few more images, I just sat on a rock enjoying the scenery.

Fallen leaves

But the time was getting late, and I could see clouds gathering in the sky.  Not wanting to get caught in the rain, I packed up and  headed towards the car.  Upon arriving back at the trailhead, I no sooner got my boots off, when droplets began to fall.  What timing!  I drove home in a downpour - not much fun, but better than hiking in it.

I'm glad I carved out some time on my day off to get out on the trail.  Fall only gives us a very small window to enjoy the colors, before winter's drab gloom sets in. 

Linking to:  Share Your Cup Thursday.


  1. Wonderful post! Your images are beautiful. Glad you didn't get rained on. We went up to Mt St Helens for some fall color and ran into a snowstorm! Not what we expected, but then this is the PNW.
    Have a great week!

  2. What an incredible hike, and that is an impressive waterfall at the end. Wonderful photos!

  3. Beautiful creek level view of the falls!

  4. I loved all the water pictures. Looks like it was another wonderful hike and the colors are gorgeous.

  5. I found your site because I goggled "rainy day hikes in Oregon" I'm so glad i found your site! Beautiful photo's and lovely narratives. Thanks for a break in my workday!

  6. Gorgeous photos! I LOVE the North Falls shots. The Pacific NW has got to be my next stop after NZ :)

  7. Beautiful. I love the places you go

  8. Linda,
    I love the falls but my favorite things are the mossy rocks. I have a fetish for moss. lol! I took a few pics of moss covered rock in Hawaii. Thanks for sharing with SYC.


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