Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lovely Elowah Falls

Fall Gorge Waterfall Tour 2013 continues!

Trailsign amidst fall splendor

After a successful expedition on the first Friday of November, that following Sunday I packed up my camera and my dog for trip number two.  Today's destination - Elowah and Upper McCord Creek Falls.

Bear looking up from a sharp switchback

Poor Bear.  He's getting on in years (almost 12 now) so lately I've been leaving him home for most of my hikes.  But this trail was fairly short, with minimal elevation gain, so I figured he could handle it.  It was good to have him bounding along beside me again.  I've missed my four-legged hiking buddy.

My first glimpse of Elowah Falls

Elowah Falls is one of my very favorite Gorge waterfalls.  Although the trail to reach it is short (a mere 0.8 miles) not many people venture out to see it's lovely white curtain.  That's quite okay with me - I'd prefer to have this beauty all to myself.

Elowah Falls and bridge

Bear and I climbed up a short distance, and then followed the trail's sharp switchbacks down, down, down until we were almost level with the creek below our destination.

Lots of lime green lichen on the rocks

And then through the mossy trees, I spied my subject - the slim white stream of Elowah's lacy cascade.  As I ventured closer, the trail opened up to reveal a huge rocky amphitheater lined in green.  In the very center was it's star attraction.

Looking downstream

Oh Elowah!  How beautiful you are!  From your tall, wispy body to the breathtaking canyon in which you call home.  And the lovely creek with it's mossy rocks below.  A hidden paradise less than a mile from the road.

Another downstream shot

Elowah is a tall cascade - measuring an impressive 289 feet.  When I'm up close, it's hard to fit the entire length in my camera lens.  So I began looking for someplace just downstream that I could perch with my tripod to capture it's full body.

Such a pretty creek!

I found a large mossy boulder in the middle of the creek that looked accessible.  Gingerly, I inched across a crumbly side trail, and then over a few other questionable rocks, until I was able to clamber onto the boulder's wet slimy surface. I balanced up my tripod within the limited area and got to work.

Looking downstream from splash pool

Photographing waterfalls at close range is challenging.  The larger the falls, the more spray and wind you have to contend with.  I was constantly wiping droplets from my camera lens, and waiting for a break in the breeze to fire the shutter.  But it's always worth it.  I got a few photos to be proud of.

Cliffside trail to Upper McCord Creek Falls

After capturing enough images of Elowah to satisfy my desires, Bear and I headed back up the switchback-y trail.  A half mile later, we reached a junction.  Not yet done with today's waterfall expedition, I took the uphill path to check out Upper McCord Creek Falls.

Bear's not so sure about this!

It had been a few years since I'd visited this trail.  So long that I'd almost forgotten what an amazing hike it is.  Bear and I climbed until we reached a steep rock cliff.  Here the trail consisted of a narrow ledge that had been blasted into the side.  A metal handrail provided slim protection from the drop-off below.  Bear wasn't so sure about walking by!

Panoramic Gorge view

But - oh the views!  I could see eastward down the Columbia River and the Washington side of the Gorge.

Top of Elowah Falls

And glimpsed the very top of Elowah Falls.

Upper McCord Creek Falls

Finally, leaving the cliff area, a short ramble brought Bear and I to a killer view of Upper McCord Creek Falls.

Lacy white curtains

The 60-foot tall twin fans of Upper McCord Creek Falls are especially scenic.  So is the mossy green canyon it resides in.  The only place to view the entire thing was atop a precarious slope.  I perched my tripod and my body atop a steep, bushy sidehill and did my best to capture this lovely double cascade.

Heading back across the cliff face

After getting a few decent images of waterfall number two, I packed my gear and headed back to the car.  Passing the cliffside trail section for a second time was no less dramatic, and I had to get just a few more shots of the wonderful view below.

Old rusted water pipe across the trail

A large rusting water pipe emerges from the ground at one point along the trail.  In my haste to reach the falls, I neglected to get a photo on the way up. 

This pipe has seen better days

During the return trip, I made sure to get a few shots of this interesting object.  Not something you usually see in the middle of a trail!

Mossy wooden water tank at trailhead

Near the trailhead parking area is a large wooden water tank.  I'm not sure what it's used for (or if it's still used at all) but I'm assuming it connects to the rusting pipe I discovered higher up the trail.  If nothing else, this mossy tank makes a great photo subject.  Even though rain had begun to fall, I stopped and set up my camera for one last photo shoot.

It's springing a leak!

It was still early, and I'd planned to visit neighboring Wahclella Falls that same afternoon.  But the rain began falling fast and furious, and by the time I'd finished photographing the wooden tank, both me and my dog were soaking wet.  Bear jumped into the back of my car before I could even dry him off, and refused to get back out.  It was his way of saying "let's go home."

Although rain forced an early retreat, I packed a lot of scenery into a short three mile trek.  And it was great to pay a visit to my favorite Gorge cascade - the lovely Elowah Falls.

But wait, there's more!  Part three of my grand waterfall tour will be coming your way soon.  Don't miss it!

Sharing my dog's photo with Saturday's Critters and also joining Sweet Shot Tuesday.


  1. Your pictures are so beautiful! You have so many nice places to hike.

  2. I dream of visiting places like this and you have taken me there. Thank you. I'm sure Bear enjoyed himself

  3. Linda you take such fantastic photos. I enjoyed every one of them. There is lots of interesting things to discover on this trail.

  4. What a beautiful trail dear Linda. Your pictures are stunning and the views are just breathtaking. I wish I could go hiking with my dogs too, unfortunately there are no mountains here.

    Was great accompanying you virtually on this trail :)

  5. These waterfalls fascinate me to no end. We have lovely waterfalls here in the East, but the pictures you post are just different and so beautiful. Can't wait to see them myself some day!

  6. Awesome hike, lots to explore. I really love your shots of Bear on the trail. Makes me want to meet you both and come along!

  7. Linda, this is such a great tour! Beautiful photos.

  8. Short, stunning and shared! Thank you.

  9. I bet Bear was super pleased to hike with you. What a pretty trail!

  10. My favorite picture was the one of the rusty waterpipe. I'd love to know the reason for that water tank out there.

  11. Linda,

    I am glad your dog was able to go on a hike with you. It is fun to walk with a willing companion. My Boston just loves to go when I walk outside.

    Waterfalls are so neat. I always have to stop and take them in. I love your captures; they are majestic and beautiful.

  12. Gorgeous shots of the waterfalls. The Columbia River area is a beautiful place for hiking. Loved the photos and your cute dog.

  13. Wow! The falls are so beautiful. And I can't get over your awesome photos. So breathtaking! I love seeing Bear on the trail. It's hard when they start to get older and can't do as much but looks like he's still doing well :)

  14. I liked seeing Bear in there

  15. I got a big smile on face when I saw who would be your hiking companion for today's post! Beautiful photos as always--favs would be the ones of the pipe with Bear, Elowah Falls from the trail with the bridge. Oh and the panoramic photos of the Gorge. BTW, do me a favor and tell sweet Bear that he is right:)
    PS: Your post made me curious so I did a bit of checking. Sounds like the pipe brought water to an old pulp mill.
    PS2: The photos of the wooden water tank brought back wonderful memories of a hike on a hillside above Harrison Hot Springs Hotel in BC. Thank you; I needed that:)

  16. Wow! Very beautiful. I knew you you would make many effoet to take cool photos,using tripod and wiping your lens against waterdrops. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Hi Linda, what a lovely trail. Too bad not too many people venture on it. The waterfall is stunning. I love your long exposure shots of the fall and the downstream creek. Really lovely capture. Thanks for virtually taking me on your spectacular hike.

  18. Gorgeous and so many opportunities for beautiful photography and hiking adventures-I can see that puppy is having a good time too.

  19. I am jealous you don't have snow and ice!

  20. This is one of my favorites too, Linda. I am often shocked at the low number of people encountered on the short trail to the two falls, considering that it is so easy in comparison to many of the other waterfall hikes in the gorge. But I agree with you, fine by me!!!!

  21. Will you take reservations for future waterfall tours? ;)


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