Saturday, April 6, 2024

The Lewis River in Winter

The weather had been quite rainy and cold through the first half of February, which put my outdoor rambles on hold.  When I couldn't stand being indoors any longer, I texted my buddy Catherine and invited her to hike with me - rain or shine.

I decided to revisit a trail that followed SW Washington's lovely Lewis River.  I'd hiked here a couple of years ago, and remembered it was a great place to go during the winter months.

Pretty red house along the Lewis River

Enroute to the trailhead, we came upon a backup of idling cars.  Turns out a recent accident had caused a road closure just a few miles short of our destination.  We were so close - I didn't want to abandon our plans now!  Luckily, thanks to Google maps, I was able to plot an alternate route via nearby country backroads.  After a wild detour through a few super-narrow lanes, we arrived safe and sound at the Hantwick Trailhead.  

Although the forecast for our chosen day looked mostly dry, raindrops greeted our arrival.  Not a problem - we'd packed our raincoats and my camera was safe and dry in its bag.

Catherine enjoying a view of the bridge

Our hike began with a wide, paved path that transitioned into gravel after a short distance.  This path followed an old railroad grade that had been converted into a pedestrian trail.  Not far from the parking area, we entered Moulton Falls Regional Park.  Catherine and I passed a couple of old logging ponds, one with a strategically-placed picnic table (which due to vandalism had sadly seen better days.)

The rain was falling pretty steadily from parking lot on and we both commented about the weatherman's inaccurate prediction.  However, despite the unexpected precip, we were still both happy to be outside. 

The classic view at Moulton Falls Regional Park

Soon our path began to parallel the south bank of the Lewis River.  At first heavy forest hid the river from view, but as we hiked further, gaps offered some peek-a-boo glimpses of its green waters.  I noticed several houses on the river's north banks.  What a great place to live!  I felt a bit envious of the homeowners - imagine seeing this lovely river view everyday.  My favorite home was one painted a vibrant shade of red.  It made the best photo op!

Pedestrian bridge close-up

After a little over 2 miles in distance, we came upon the scenic wooden pedestrian bridge spanning the Lewis River's East Fork.  Fortunately for us, the rain seemed to let up about that same time.  Catherine and I lingered on the bridge, taking in the gorgeous river views in each direction.  Then we headed downhill towards the official parking lot and picnic area.  I pointed Catherine to a section of the riverbank that was lined by large, flat rocks.  It was here visitors got the best view of the pedestrian bridge, framed by the mossy cliffs and lovely green water.  A great spot for a lunch break, we did just that - and then dawdled around taking copious amounts of photographs.

Yacolt Falls

Although I'd hiked around Moulton Falls Regional Park before, I'd never crossed the adjacent roadway to check out another nearby waterfall, named Yacolt Falls.  I suggested to Catherine we should try to find this cascade, and she was all for it.  With a rough map printed off the internet to guide us, we attempted to navigate our way.

Another view of this lovely cascade

We followed a very narrow, sketchy trail along a side creek.  (Later I learned it was called "Big Tree Creek")  It took us past a dilapidated picnic area and then steeply up a rocky slope.  The path was so narrow and overgrown, we were unsure if this was the right track.  Catherine and I were just about ready to turn around when I reached the top of the slope and spotted a lovely waterfall gushing between the creek's rocky shorelines.  Yahoo!  We'd found Yacolt Falls!

Moulton Falls - just a ripple in the river

Although not very tall, (28 feet total drop) Yacolt Falls was mighty scenic, its waters spreading across several basalt layers like a bridal train.  Walking down to the base, we discovered a pedestrian bridge spanning the river below the cascade.  However, access was blocked by a locked gate.  I later read this bridge is only open in summer months, allowing access from the opposite bank.  Apparently there was a road not far away, because while we were there two people appeared on the other side.

Whitewater action

After satisfying our Yacolt Falls curiosity, Catherine and I retraced our steps back to the Moulton Falls parking lot.  Wishing to check out Moulton Falls itself, we followed a short path down the riverbank to another large rocky shoreline.  After marveling at the beauty of Yacolt Falls, Moulton Falls was a bit of a disappointment.  With only a tiny 10 foot drop, this cascade looked more like an area of rapids in the Lewis River than a proper waterfall.  But I still had fun trying to capture the whitewater action tumbling through the rocks.

Downstream of the falls

Downstream of Moulton Falls, I admired the unique green-blue hue of the Lewis River.  At that moment, a ray of sunshine broke through the clouds and lit the water up.  Such a beautiful sight, I clicked my camera shutter like a madwoman.

Old mossy cedar tree

Making our way back along the southern river bank, I paused to admire an old, mossy cedar tree.  It was lit up wonderfully from the passing sunshine and this scene was duly recorded on my camera's memory card.

Great to get outside!

Although our day started out with a closed road and unexpected rainfall, my friend and I made the best of things and ended up having a fabulous time roaming around an absolutely gorgeous place.  Always wonderful to get outside anytime of the year!


  1. ...thank for taking me along to see the sights.

  2. Totally amazing pictures. I was knocked out by them. ♥♥

  3. So pretty! It seems you have to be okay with getting wet if you want to get outside in the PNW!

  4. In my book, a winner of a day! I just love a your images of the arched bridge.

  5. Some awesome pictures along that river, especially of the water colour and the falls. You've got such great places to explore!

  6. Oh my gosh, your pictures are incredible! Love that first picture with the cabin on the river. I just love the water rapids pictures. They can be difficult to photograph sometimes. I like to play with the exposure speed.


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