Monday, February 21, 2011

The Trees Don't Care What You Look Like - Wahclella Falls

The trees don’t care what you look like. They don’t care if you haven’t done your hair, if you are wearing your grubby jeans, and definitely not about the amount of makeup you are wearing. On a recent Sunday I had spent the morning doing housework and definitely was not at my most attractive. I was getting an itch to get out of the house, but didn’t feel like getting prettied up either. Since the rain seemed to be holding off and a couple of rays of sunshine were peeking out, a hike in the Gorge with my oldest daughter and dog was the perfect solution.

My youngest child was at the coast visiting her grandparents. My husband was ensconced in other projects, so this was a rare opportunity to spend some quality time with the tween and explore a trail we haven’t visited before. Normally, I don’t take my 4 year old on a trail I have never been on before. She is just too rambunctious and I like to be completely aware of whatever “dangers” might exist. So, it was seize the opportunity now or wait an undetermined amount of time until it presented itself again. We headed out with no particular destination in mind.

Sign at the trailhead.
I have driven by the trailhead to Wahclella Falls an innumerable amount of times. Normally, we take the left instead of the right and head straight to Bonneville Fish Hatchery to feed the trout, one of the kids’ favorite things to do. I recently looked information about the trail online, so, about the time we passed the Bridal Veil exit on I-84 I decided this would be our destination. I was not sorry about my decision at all.

Tanner Creek
The first part of the trail is really a service road that runs parallel to Tanner Creek. A beautiful way to start, with the sound of the running water, small cascades and trees almost completely covered in bright green moss. You cross a bridge next to a very small waterfall that runs down a rock face, that you can literally reach out and touch. From there, the trail turns to gravel, a little rocky in places and starts climbing. Close to the falls there is a fork in the trail, one heading down the hill and into the canyon, another that continues up. We continued on the “high road”, leaving the lower trail for a future visit. After about a mile hike, you are rewarded with the spectacular view of the falls spouting from the basalt cliff.

Wahclella Falls
The hike back to the car we just enjoyed the sound of the creek. There weren't a ton of people on the trail this day, but we saw a little bit of everyone. From some older ladies to a couple carrying a baby, and all ages in between.

The dog and the tween on the trail.
Speaking of carrying babies, my little 6 pound minature pinscher did not enjoy the hike as much as we did. In fact, by the time we got the the actual waterfall, she was begging to be picked up. My daughter ended up taking pity on her and carried her the entire way back to the trailhead. I don't think the dog has really forgiven me yet, but I think most humans, even those not in great hiking shape, would enjoy this almost two mile round trip. It wasn't too strenuous, and we returned home more relaxed than when we left. Not a bad way to end a weekend if you ask me!!

Want to go check out this gem for yourself? Friends of the Columbia Gorge had a great website that has a tool for planning hiking trips all over the area. Click here for more information on the hike we took!


  1. Great post, Cari. I think that sounds like a terrific hike, just as you said, for all types of folks with a spectacular result (the waterfall). Great way to spend a Saturday!

  2. "Close to the falls there is a fork in the trail, one heading down the hill and into the canyon, another that continues up. We continued on the “high road”, leaving the lower trail for a future visit."

    They are actually a loop. The low road and the high road eventually meet at the water falls. I always take the "low road" to the water falls and the "high road" to return to my car.