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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Panther Creek Falls

Oh, I've found the most beautiful waterfall in the world! 


Panther Creek Falls

Okay, if not the world at least in the Pacific NW.  And it's just across the river in Washington state.

While recuperating from my October surgery, I came across a jaw-dropping photo of Panther Creek Falls in an issue of Backpacker magazine.  Then I discovered this lovely cascade was local - just outside of Carson, WA.  Why had I never visited this?



Sunlight peeps through the woods

As you might have guessed, Panther Creek Falls immediately got placed on my springtime hiking list.  Finally, the last Friday in May found me buzzing through the sleepy little hamlet of Carson on a mission to locate this fabulous waterfall.

This trail doesn't show up in any of my hiking books, so finding the falls required a bit of internet detective work.  Scouring hiking websites, I was able to patch together the general location.  Google Maps also helped a ton.  Armed with this info, I headed down FS Road 65, looking for a sharp bend in the road.  The falls was supposed to be at this bend.


Hairy tree

I parked my car in the adjacent gravel pullout.  After donning hiking boots, backpack, and camera gear, I trekked across the road.  The ground dropped steeply from the pavement edge, nearly vertical, to the rushing creek below.  I didn't see any signs.  Hmmm.....where would the trail be?

I decided to head towards the sharp roadway curve.  That seemed like a logical place for a waterfall.  Continuously scanning the downhill slope, I hoped to spot the magic path. 


Falls from upper viewpoint

I was almost to the bend, and still no sign of a trail.  The slope seemed to flatten out a tiny bit here, so I decided to bite the bullet and scramble my way down to the creek.  It wasn't easy.  The road was perched on a large, moss-covered boulder field.  Thick bushes rose through the rocks.  I bushwhacked my way through the vegetation (occasionally walking through spiderwebs - ugh!) until I reached Panther Creek's muddy shore.


Much better views at the base

The creek was uber-green and quite lovely.  The surrounding lush mossy forest was also quite nice.  But the waterfall I sought was nowhere to be found.

After snapping a few quick pics, I dejectedly climbed back up the brushy slope.  I walked a short distance in the opposite direction and still no luck.  Where the heck was this falls?


Such lovely streams

I was about ready to give up.  I'd scrambled down to the creek in one location, and wasn't super-keen about doing another bushwhack.  But a little voice told me not to quit just yet, and to walk a little bit further away from the bend.  So I did.  And a few steps later, I saw the trail.


Ultra-green surrounding forest

The trail wasn't at all where I'd expected it to be.  It was quite a distance from the sharp roadway curve.  But after following this path a short distance, I began to hear a roar.  Then I spotted a wooden viewing platform.  And beyond that platform was the one and only Panther Creek Falls.

Oh my was it gorgeous!  I set up my tripod and shot a few images of this waterfall's lacy streams.  The rough rock surface appeared to split the flow into numerous tiny capillaries.  They looked like delicate white fingers.  Surrounding bright green moss and deep green ferns were perfect compliments to these gleaming, white cascades.  The only disappointment was the bright morning sunlight streaming over the fall's very top.  This large difference in exposures made capturing the entire waterfall extremely difficult (that's why I love dark, cloudy days for waterfall photography).


Falls and creek below

The photos I'd seen depicted a perspective of the falls from it's base.  The viewing platform looked down upon the falls from above.  Although not a bad view, it wasn't the shot I'd hoped to get.  I began scanning the adjacent forest.  How did people get down there?

Leaving the platform, I spied a faint path winding through the forest.  I followed as it skirted the top of a steep rock cliff, and then dived nearly vertical down a slippery, muddy bank.  I ended up literally climbing down this route on hands and knees, grabbing onto rocks and tree roots, with my tripod flopping around on my back.  But despite it's precarious nature, the path did it's job.  Sliding down the last bit of muddy trail got me to the fall's base.  Spread out above me in all her glory, was Panther Creek Falls.


Lower Panther Creek Falls

Although the upper view was great, the falls were even more stunning from below.  The multiple tiny torrents looked like a lacy curtain as they gushed down the rocky face.  The creek below frothed and churned, tumbling over it's bed.  And everything was surrounded by a thick, mossy green forest.  An ample reward for that scary downhill scramble.


Water-beaded leaves

But there was still more.  Panther Creek Falls also had a lower cascade.  One more crude scramble trail led me down another near-vertical bank to the three-pronged falls below.  Although not quite as spectacular as it's upper cousin, this little waterfall was still awfully darned nice.  And it was entirely in the shade, so no exposure issues.


Three tiers and a mossy log

Finishing up my final photo session, I clambered back up the steep, muddy slope.  Reaching the pavement, I began to follow the road's shoulder towards my car.  Passing by the first path, I discovered a trail sign prominently bolted to a large tree.  D'oh!  Now how had I missed that?


The sign I missed

No mind, I now knew exactly how to find Panther Creek Falls.  And before reaching the car, I'd already made plans for a return trip.  I've decided to wait until autumn - with all the surrounding deciduous foliage, fall colors should be stunning.  But next time, I'm picking a cloudy day!


Sharing with:  Friday Greens and Scenic Weekends

44 comments:

  1. You are right the falls is VERY beautiful as well as the lovely trees. You have photographed it superbly. it will be look to see the autumn colours

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  2. Don't you have maps there? I'd have been scanning the maps of the local area for the falls. looks like it was well worth the effort of al that scrambling around to see them and get a photo.

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  3. Oh Linda, I want to be there right now. Such amazing nature. Especially those waterfalls.

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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  4. Hello Linda, what a great find and a beautiful waterfalls. The climb down did sound a little scary. It is so lush and green, gorgeous images. Thanks for taking me along the easy way with your awesome photos. Have a happy weekend!

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  5. Nice series - we have had our shore of trailhead searches

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  6. OMG...after all that, there is an actual trail?!?!?! Too funny! Also, insanely pretty! The lush green background is gorgeous...I bet the fall colors will be just as magical!

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  7. You need to make a video so we could listen to the water fall. But I can almost hear it anyway.

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  8. You surely put in a lot of effort to locate the base of the beautiful falls! The reward: bright green vegetation and fall pictures!

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  9. Linda, your photos look like paintings! I am dazzled! And I've just added Panther Creek Falls to my must-do list. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Every time youost some new spot I think I want you to take me there, but this is the one for sure! Can't wait to see what it looks like in the fall but I'm sure it's gorgeous anytime of year.

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  11. What a find! Spectacular! Good point about the value of dark cloudy days. I was having the same frustration trying to shoot some crevices along the Bruce Trail here just the other day.

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  12. I've never even heard of (Carson, WA) much less Pather Creek Falls but now I have through your awesome photos. - You really went out of your way to find this waterfall. The results of your effort are wonderful. Several of your photos stood out to me. #4, 5 & 7 were my favorites. It really is a gorgeous waterfall. Thank you so much for sharing. That is funny about your missing the trail sign.

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  13. as always beautiful shots and an amazing hike to add to my growing list

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  14. Isn't it a great waterfall?!?! I went there in spring. But I did not make it all the way to the bottom on that trip. I will for sure be going back, probably in the fall to get those pretty changing leaves!

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  15. Wow that was a spectacular find. too bad the top was in bright sunlight. possibly invest in some square plastic graduated filters. I have some and it does help.

    beautiful images.

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  16. Wow, that is gorgeous!! It's so green! I agree, it will be even more breathtaking in the fall when all the leaves change color.

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  17. You had me laughing at the end:) Beautiful, beautiful place Linda--and those falls? Spectacular! Hoping you will be able to return on a nice cloudy day in autumn.
    Blessings, Aimee

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  18. OMG - that is gorgeous!! Just beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.

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  19. Linda, I am behind today in my blog visits, but your photos today have really come at a perfect time! I hardly slept last night at all and seeing your photos is just what I needed, so thank you so much. I think they look like paintings as well! Brilliant captures! :)

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  20. These falls are so beautiful. I love how the water seems to spead like a delta. A fascinating sights. Wonderful, interesting series of photos.

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  21. You've got greens in spades! Tom The Backroads Traveller

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  22. That is breathtaking! I've never seen a waterfall like that with the moss. Your neck of the woods is such a lovely place!

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  23. It's a lovely area and I agree the waterfall is gorgeous! It ought to look fabulous in the fall!

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  24. That is a very beautiful waterfall, it sounds like quite the adventure finding it and getting to the base!

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  25. Definitely worth waiting for.Beautiful falls and spectacularly [effort and beauty] captured.

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  26. Lovely scenic shots and you are right ~ most beautiful water falls!

    Happy Weekend to you,
    artmusedog and carol

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  27. Gorgeous! I guess this is a day trip for you, but may be a tad far from Corvallis. I'm surprised to see that amount of water. The trails sound a bit rustic (good). I look forward to seeing your autumn shots here.

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  28. Oh my goodness, your images of this beautiful place are outstanding!

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  29. I think I may have to agree with your opinion! It's gorgeous.

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  30. Um lugar fabuloso, um pedacinho do paraíso!
    Fotos fantásticas!!!

    Boa semana!!!
    Beijinhos.ჱه° ·.
    ❤˚° ·.

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  31. Beautiful series of green. Beautiful place too!

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  32. an adventurer you are and your photographs are amazing, as always!

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  33. Very nice waterfall and beautifully captured.

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  34. This falls and the surrounding forest are simply breathtaking, Linda. I can just see you scrambling (I did the same a couple days ago but didn't come away with any rewarding photos!). No wonder not many people visit - it seems hard to find and difficult to access.

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  35. Such beautiful photos. Can't wait for the Fall issue :)

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  36. Wow! What a beautiful place - I need to come back to this part of the world!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  37. All of your photos are so beautiful. I can almost feel the mist from those falls coming through my computer!!

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  38. Linda I love your perspective of this gorgeous falls. All the work to get to it definitely was worth the effort and can't wait to see those fall shots. Did you use an NF filter for your shots?? Great work as always

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  39. What stunning Falls! You live in such a beautiful part of the country! Enjoy! I hear you have hot weather, we do too. Stay cool:)

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  40. The waterfalls are gorgeous and I love the mossy forest. This place must look amazing in autumn colours.

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  41. Wonderful photos, Linda, of this marvellous place - a little piece of paradise on earth!
    Many thanks for participating in the Friday Greens meme. I look forward to your next contribution.

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