|Wild dogwoods in bloom!|
This spectacular 200-foot high cascade with the dumb name wasn't my original destination. On this mid-May Friday, I'd planned to hike nearby Dog Mountain hoping to catch the better-than-average wildflower bloom currently blanketing its slopes. However, ferocious winds greeted my arrival at the trailhead. From prior experience, I knew windy weather at lower levels meant downright miserable conditions at the summit. So I scrapped the day's Dog Mountain itinerary.
|Mighty Falls Creek Falls|
Where to go now? Any trails adjacent to the Columbia River Gorge would also be windy. Then I remembered a short, but beautiful nearby trail to an enormous waterfall. Hidden in a canyon and inland from the Gorge, it was sure to be calmer there. Falls Creek Falls, here I come!
It had been several years since I'd hiked this trail. A short 3.4-mile round trip journey, I'd been passing it over for longer and more challenging jaunts. But today I was spring photography mode, and nothing says spring like green forests and gushing waterfalls.
The Falls Creek Falls trail started in a lush forest full of blooming wild dogwood trees. I loved the large, white flowers and it was a nice surprise to see so many.
|A photo with me in it for scale|
The path quickly transitioned into an old-growth forest, full of huge, mossy Douglas fir trees. I marveled at the tree's sizes.
|Lovely cedar woods|
The day was cloudy and threatened rain. Wanting to reach this cascade before the clouds let loose, I hurried down the trail, only occasionally stopping for a quick photo or two.
|Oregon grape in bloom|
The sound of roaring water was my clue that I was close. Climbing a small rise, the forest parted to reveal the middle and lower portions of this three-tiered waterfall. What a sight! Full from spring runoff, it was gushing mightily.
|Mossy rocks line the creek|
Although Falls Creek Falls has three distinct drops, the top 50-foot tier was hidden from view. The middle 70-foot fan and lower 80-foot drop were the only parts visible from the viewing area.
|Lone dogwood bloom|
The viewing area wasn't very large. Perched on the side of a steep drop-off one had to watch their step. Trees blocked a clear straight-on view, so I had to jockey my tripod a bit to capture the entire scene. There was a lower viewpoint, but it involved scrambling down a steep slope, something I wasn't willing to do.
|The trail followed a spectacular old growth forest|
The day's cloudy, damp weather was perfect for waterfall photography. Although it sprinkled briefly any serious rainfall held off the entire time I was at the falls. And, normally a popular spring hiking destination, I had the place to myself!
Hiking back out, I encountered several groups of people, all toting cameras and tripods, marching towards the falls. The sun began peeping out of the clouds, ruining the nice, even light from overcast skies. Now I was doubly glad I'd arrived early.
|Scenic Falls Creek|
I took my time hiking back, enjoying the bright green mossy forest. Lots of great old trees to photograph, as well as the scenic Falls Creek.
|Huge streamside tree|
And of course, I couldn't resist capturing some more dogwood blooms.
|More dogwood flowers!|
I passed by an old stump with a thick mat of moss on top - like it was growing hair. A well-placed hole on the side looked like a mouth. It almost appeared human!
|This stump looks human!|
So despite being a second-choice trail, I enjoyed my hike through this truly lovely forest. But the Forest Service really needs to come up with a better name for such an impressive waterfall.