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Bridal Veil Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Bridal Veil Falls (Steve Hart)
Trillium in forest along the trail (Greg Lief)
Bridal Veil Creek below Bridal Veil Falls (bobcat)
The fire cistern at the old mill site, Bridal Veil Creek (bobcat)
On the universal access trail, Bridal Veil (bobcat)
Orange honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa), Bridal Veil (bobcat)
The excursion at Bridal Veil State Scenic Viewpoint (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Bridal Veil TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Bridal Veil Falls
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: In and out + universal access loop
  • Distance: 1.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 205 feet
  • High point: 230 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes
Poison Oak


Hike Description

This excursion begins from a trailhead right off the Columbia River Highway. It takes you to a majestic waterfall and then to clifftop overlooks offering vistas up and down the Columbia River Gorge. The state park is a favorite of tourists and families on summer weekends, but is relatively quiet at other times. The two trails here begin east of the parking area near the restrooms. One trail descends to Bridal Veil Creek and then rises to a viewpoint of two-tiered Bridal Veil Falls. You also have the option here to descend the creek and explore a little of the Bridal Veil Lumbering Company's mill site. The second trail is a paved universal access loop that passes along the rim of the basalt Bridal Veil Bluffs overlooking the Columbia River. Across the road from the parking area is the historic Bridal Veil Lodge, now a B & B, which was opened in 1927 as one of the official "respites" along the Scenic Highway.

Make a right at the junction east of the parking lot, and hike through a wood of tall Douglas-firs. Drop down a gravel trail lined by a now deteriorating rock wall that has slipped away in places. Make two switchbacks, passing licorice fern-draped slopes to look down on Bridal Veil Creek. A set of concrete steps leads down to creek level (In winter, you can see rusting pipes from the old mill operation in the undergrowth). Cross a segmental arch footbridge, and go right at the junction. Ascend along the maple-shaded creek to reach steps leading up to a viewing platform. Bridal Veil Falls plunges under the Old Columbia River Gorge Highway's 1914 bridge and through a mossy basalt defile in two tiers, a drop of about 120 feet altogether. The creek ran near-dry for decades because the lumber mill below diverted the water. Now the mill is a memory, and Bridal Veil Falls has returned. A massive basalt boulder, detached long ago from somewhere above, lies in the creek below, testament to the dynamic nature of this landscape. The viewing platform itself has become something of a romantic destination (Note all the hearts carved into the woodwork).

When you return to the footbridge, keep on the east side of the creek, which is buttressed by a wall that once bordered a mill race. A dike separates the creek from a man-made former pond. Pass around a gate above the pond, noting a decaying wood structure in the depression. This may have supported a log conveyor that led to the old sawmill or mill yard. You'll come to a blackberry-infested area of old foundations and paved expanses, now sometimes a dumping ground for those not inclined to pay for regular garbage service. Circle around to your left, passing into the blackberries, and come to the last remaining structure from the mill days, a corrugated iron shed now decorated with graffiti. According to a former resident of the company town, this was a covered cistern that contained water for fire emergencies. A paper mill was constructed here in the 1880s. Later, the the Bridal Veil Falls Lumbering Company's planing mill was built east of the creek. Higher up, in fact 1,500 feet higher up on Larch Mountain, was their Palmer Mill operation. The sawmill there rough cut the lumber, and then sent it down the creek valley in a flume that ended at the resaw building. At least one million board feet of timber was moved in this way. The operation shut down in 1937 after a destructive fire, and thereafter the remaining buildings were taken over by the Bridal Veil Lumber & Box Company, which manufactured wooden boxes for Kraft Cheese as well as ammunition boxes during World War II. The Box Company closed in 1960, and the town site was gradually abandoned. In 1991, the Trust for Public Lands purchased the acreage, but for years a petition to declare the area a historic site was pursued. After the petition was denied, the three remaining mill buildings - the resaw building, maintenance shop, and warehouse - were demolished in 2001. The town's church was torn down in 2011. The last building remaining on the property is the Bridal Veil Post Office near the freeway exit and said to be the second smallest post office in the United States. It was once a tool shed for the mill. The post office is kept busy applying their trademark cancellation to batches of wedding invitations.

Return to the junction near the restrooms, and go right for the short loop. The paved trail heads out from under the conifer canopy into a small field of camas, which blooms in mid-April. At the first viewpoint and picnic table, lilacs will be blooming in spring. The freeway and rail tracks are just below, while you can see east to Archer Mountain, Hamilton Mountain, and Beacon Rock. Across the river are the 400-foot palisades at Cape Horn, which stream with narrow waterfalls in the wet season. Phoca Rock, named by Lewis and Clark for the seals they saw in the vicinity, is offshore from Cape Horn. Then the trail loops west under oaks, cottonwoods, and maples to other fenced clifftop viewpoints over the river and past more camas meadows. Poison oak lines the trail in places. Pass a deep cleft in the cliff through which a small creek tumbles. A spur heads out to the last viewpoint, which looks west up the railroad tracks to the remaining Pillars of Hercules, Sand Island, and Crown Point. Return to the parking area through leafy woods. On your right, across a gully, you'll see a patch of forest scarred by the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, the closest that conflagration got to these trails.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Day-use only: 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Restrooms, picnic tables, interpretive signs
  • Dogs on leash

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hikes in the Columbia Gorge by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson
  • 70 Virtual Hikes of the Columbia River Gorge by Northwest Hiker
  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook
  • Pokin' Round the Gorge by Scott Cook
  • Take a Walk: Portland by Brian Barker
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • Portland Hikes by Art Bernstein & Andrew Jackman
  • Columbia Gorge Getaways by Laura O. Foster
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Portland, Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge by Russ Schneider; revised by Jim Yuskavitch
  • Best Short Hikes in Northwest Oregon by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon by Adam Sawyer
  • Waterfall Lover's Guide: Pacific Northwest by Gregory A. Plumb
  • Waterfalls of the Columbia Gorge, Volume One: Oregon by Zach Forsyth
  • Fire, Faults, and Floods: A Road & Trail Guide Exploring the Origins of the Columbia River Basin by Marge & Ted Mueller
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan

More Links


Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.