Columbia River Gorge South Hiking Oregon Trip report

Dry Creek and Pacific Crest Falls

Despite what the weather thinks we are approaching our hiking season which means we will be hitting the trails much more often over the next 6 months. As we work our way into hiking shape we jumped on a chance at a rain free morning and headed to the Columbia River Gorge to check out a pair of waterfalls. Several trails in the gorge remain closed due to fire damage from the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire and others that had been reopened are again closed due to rock fall and slides caused by our recent weather combined with the fire damage. Please remember to check on the current status and conditions of trails before heading out.

Our sights were set on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail from Cascade Locks to Pacific Crest Falls. We had visited Pacific Crest Falls coming from the other side in October of 2015 (post) but at that time of year there wasn’t much water flowing so we thought a return visit was in order, especially after our recent rains.

We began our hike at the Bridge of the Gods Trailhead in Cascade Locks.
Bridge of the Gods Trailhead

From the trailhead we took the Pacific Crest Trail south.
Pacific Crest Trail sign in Cascade Locks

Pacific Crest Trail at Cascade Locks

The PCT briefly follows Harvey Road as it passes under I84 to a second possible trailhead.
Short road stretch on the PCT

Pacific Crest/Gorge Trail

From the Harvey Road Trailhead the PCT climbed gradually through the fire scarred forest. It was encouraging to see that many if not most of the trees along this section had survived. There was also quite a few early Spring flowers blooming.
Pacific Crest Trail in the Eagle Creek Fire scar

Eagle Creek Fire scar along the Pacific Crest Trail

Violets and snow queenSnow queen and violets


Just under a mile from Harvey Road the PCT once again briefly shared a gravel roadbed as it passed under a set of power lines.
Another short stretch of road along the Pacific Crest Trail

The trail leveled out shortly after passing the power lines and traversed along a sometimes steep hillside for three quarters of a mile to a signed junction near Dry Creek.
Pacific Crest Trail

Forest along the Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail

Dry Creek Falls Trail

Here we detoured away from the PCT and followed the pointer for Dry Creek Falls. This trail followed an old roadbed along Dry Creek just over a quarter of mile to Dry Creek Falls.
Approaching Dry Creek Falls

Dry Creek with Dry Creek Falls in the distance

Dry Creek Falls

Dry Creek Falls

Dry Creek Falls

After a nice little break at the base of the falls we headed back to the PCT where we turned right and crossed Dry Creek on a footbridge.
Footbridge over Dry Creek

Dry Creek

We had been discussing the fact that hikers were starting to post picture of fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa) one of our favorites. We weren’t sure if any would be blooming yet in this area but we managed to spot a few as we continued south on the PCT.
Fairy slipper

Approximately 1.25 miles from Dry Creek the PCT crossed a talus slope.
Pacific Crest Trail

At the beginning of this section we spotted group of yellow flowers which turned out to be glacier lilies.
Glacier lilies

Glacier lilies

Glacier lilies

This section also provided the best, albeit limited, view across the Columbia River during this hike.
Columbia River

A half mile beyond the talus we passed the Herman Creek Pinnacles. We detoured briefly to get a closer look at the basalt formation and the cute little monkeyflowers blooming amid the rocks.
Herman Creek Pinnacles

Herman Creek Pinnacles

Chickeweed monkeyflower

Chickweed monkeyflower

After exploring the pinnacles we continued on and in less than a quarter mile arrived at Pacific Crest Falls.
Approaching Pacific Crest Falls

Pacific Crest Falls

The amount of water flowing over the falls was noticeably more this time around.
Pacific Crest FallsOctober 2015

Pacific Crest FallsApril 2019

We turned around here and headed back along the PCT to the junction near Dry Creek. Instead of returning to Cascade Locks via the PCT we turned downhill on the old road and followed the creek downhill.
Old roadbed back to Cascade Locks

Dry Creek

Dry Creek

After approximately 1.25 miles we passed some sort of a structure followed by a gate.
Dry Creek Road

Beyond the gate Dry Creek Road was open and well graveled.
Dry Creek Road

After passing a few logging roads and swinging quite a ways east we passed under I84 by turning left on SW Ruckle St which we followed to its end at SW Adams Ave. We turned left on Adams which brought us to a school.
Cascade Locks

We passed behind the school (and library) and made our way to Highway 30 where we turned left again towards the Bridge of the Gods.
Heading through Cascade Locks

Cascade Locks

Bridge of the Gods

We arrived back at our car as the rain was arriving. The hike was approximately 9.5 miles (I had some battery issues with the GPS) with a little under 1000′ of elevation gain. Hiking through Cascade Locks at the end was definitely not the most exciting end to a hike and unless you’re like us and specifically seek out alternate return routes I’d recommend just returning as you came. That being said the upper portion of the road walk along Dry Creek was nice.

I want to take a moment to thank the volunteers that have worked so hard to restore the trails affected by the fire. In particular the PCTA and Trail Keepers of Oregon (TKO) have been hard at work and doing an excellent job. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Dry Creek and Pacific Crest Falls

Columbia River Gorge South Hiking Oregon Trip report

Indian Point and Pacific Crest Falls

My Grandmother recently celebrated her 91st birthday and we wanted to take her out for a birthday dinner in Portland so we planned a trip up to the Columbia River Gorge to check another of the many area hikes off our to-do list. We chose a pair of hikes beginning at the same trailhead for the Herman Creek Trail.

Our plan was to start at the Herman Creek Campground near Cascade Locks visiting Pacific Crest Falls and then hiking out to Indian Point. We set off on the Herman Creek Trail and followed it for .6 miles to a fork where we headed right on the Herman Bridge Trail toward the Pacific Crest Trail.


The Herman Bridge Trail descended .4 miles to a footbrdige over Herman Creek. This was the only place that we would encounter the creek on the trails.


We reached the Pacific Crest trail in another .8 miles passing through some nice forest and getting some decent views.


The views improved after we turned right on the PCT with Table Mountain and Greanleaf Peak visible across the river.

Greenleaf Peak

Table Mountain

We weren’t sure what we would find when we arrived at Pacific Crest Falls just .4 miles up the PCT. It was October in an unusually dry year so we weren’t too surprised when we arrived at a nearly dry creek bed. We couldn’t see the falls as we approached but we could hear them up the narrow canyon. From the far side of the creek we could see the two tiered fall back in the canyon and we decided to scramble up the creek bed for a closer look.




Despite there not being much water the musical sound of the cascade was relaxing. As we were making our way back from the falls we spotted a frog that really blended in with the fallen leaves.



We had gone a little under 4 miles when we arrived back at the fork with the Herman Creek Trail which is why we had made Indian Point our second goal for the day. We took the Herman Creek Trail uphill toward a large trail junction .7 miles away.


Several trails arrived at the trail junction near Herman Camp. The left hand trail was the Gorge Trail which led to Wyeth while the right hand trail was the continuation of the Herman Creek Trail. We took the Gorton Creek trail which was the middle trail .

This trail climbed gradually offering occasional glimpses across the Columbia River to Washington.



Along the way we had a momentary standoff on the trail with a rough skinned newt that wasn’t about to budge.

We arrived at the Ridge Cutoff Trail after 2.6 miles which we would take for a loop back to the junction near Herman Camp, but before heading uphill on that trail we continued a short distance on the Gorton Creek Trail to an unsigned path on the left.

The side path led steeply downhill to a ridge which we followed out to a rocky saddle below Indian Point.


Several prominent landmarks were visible from the saddle.
Wind and Dog Mountians

Mt. Adams

Mt. St. Helens

We declared victory at the end of the saddle directly below Indian Point and enjoyed a surprisingly wind free break before climbing back up to the Gorton Creek Trail. We then returned to the Ridge Cutoff Trail and headed uphill toward the Nick Eaton Ridge Trial. The cutoff trail climbed for a bit then leveled off before reaching the Nick Eaton Trail in a total of .6 miles.

We turned right on the Nick Eaton Ridge Trail and continued our loop heading downhill at an impressive clip. The trail popped out into some grassy hillside meadows before beginning a series of unrelentingly steep switchbacks.




It quickly became obvious why our guidebook recommended doing the loop clockwise as we descended the seemingly never ending switchbacks. After two miles of downhill hiking we arrived back at the Herman Creek Trail just a few hundred yards from Herman Camp. After retracing our steps back to the trailhead we drove to Grandma’s house ending our day with a nice visit and dinner. Happy Trails!