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Lee Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Lee Falls on the Tualatin River (bobcat)
Sweet coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus), Lee Falls Road (bobcat)
Little Lee Falls, Tualatin River (bobcat)
Tualatin River above Lee Falls (bobcat)
Road route to Lee Falls and beyond (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Lee Falls Road TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Lee Falls
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 6.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 355 feet
  • High Point: 495 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Only in summer: popular swimming hole

Contents

Description

Local teens love the swimming hole at Lee Falls in the summer and, because of parking restrictions, this is not a particularly good time to visit. Other months of the year are much quieter. You will be hiking along a gravel road belonging to the City of Hillsboro Municipal Water District. The road leads to the Hillsboro Reservoir near Haines Falls, but is not open to the public that far up. For the hike to Lee Falls, which pour over an interesting basalt block formation, stay on the road and leave no trace. Spring is an especially good time to visit as water levels are somewhat high and there are lots of blooms along the road verge. This is also an excellent short bicycle trip.

WARNING! DO NOT PARK at or near the gate at the beginning of the hike. Locals get VERY angry about this and cars have been keyed and smeared with animal excrement. Park up the hill in the oak forest on Lee Falls Road in one of the little pullouts and walk down to the gate. ATTENTION: As of Spring 2017, No Parking signs have been put up at all the pullouts along the approach road. It is advisable not to park anywhere near here at this time. You may have to walk in from a distance. Make sure you park on a public street.

Walk down the road above a small farm holding to a gate. The signs at the gate say No Unauthorized Vehicles and No Parking At Any Time. Nixon Drive goes up to the right. The Tualatin River runs down to your left under lichen- and moss-draped big-leaf maples and Douglas-firs. At the first bend in the road, a couple of trails lead off to the river and Little Lee Falls, a minor but pretty drop on the Tualatin's course. Under Douglas-firs and cedars there is an undergrowth of Oregon grape and salal. Trilliums, violets and Indian plum bloom here in the spring. Then, continue uphill on the gravel road, where irises might be blooming along the verges. Trails lead left to the river in places. An old logging road leads down to a bridge over the river. From the bridge, you can see upstream to a thin fall splashing into a summer swimming hole below basalt cliffs. The Lee Falls Road descends and then passes a shed on the right. Walk through an open flat area with a Scots broom/blackberry thicket. The road returns to the river. Alders, cedar, Douglas-fir, big-leaf maples and some grand firs form the mixed forest. Hike slightly downhill and then rise, walking under a basalt cliff. You'll pass two logging road junctions, one to the left and one to the right, the latter leading down to another bridge over the river. The road continues to undulate. Soon, arrive at Lee Falls, 12 - 15 feet high at a wide spot in the river, and tarry awhile to enjoy the sight of the Tualatin pouring over angular basalt blocks. Note the fish ladder that has been constructed on the far side of the river.

To extend the hike, you can continue up the road another mile or so. Oaks festooned with lichen droop over the track, which continues to rise. Pass a couple of small clear cuts. The river winds and the road cuts across the side of a hill prone to slides. Descend above an alder/cedar flat and then pass a large clearcut hillside on the right. Finally, ascend to a locked yellow gate maintained by the City of Hillsboro. No public traffic is permitted beyond this point. Haines Falls and the Hillsboro Reservoir are a short distance away, but can be visited with special permission only.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Respect private property and all No Trespassing signs

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Waterfall Lover's Guide: Pacific Northwest by Gregory A. Plumb

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Page Contributors

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.