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North Siouxon Creek Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

North Siouxon Creek (bobcat)
Trail reflections, North Siouxon Creek Trail (bobcat)
Mossy footbridge, North Siouxon Creek Trail (bobcat)
Black Hole Falls, North Siouxon Creek (bobcat)
Route to Black Hole Falls, North Siouxon Creek (bobcat)
  • Start point: North Siouxon TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Black Hole Falls
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 10.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1290 feet
  • High Point: 1,815 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Spring into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

For many years, the usual approach to western trailhead of the Mitchell Peak Trail, which runs along North Siouxon Creek, was through Amboy from the south. Then the footbridge over North Siouxon Creek got washed out and the road to the trailhead slid down the slope. The new, but unsigned, trailhead can still be reached from the south, but a more reliable and easier, but slightly longer approach, is from the north. This is also the best way to access the summit of Mount Mitchell, where the much shorter access route has been blocked by a private landholder. The trail described below runs through lush low Cascades woodland in a 100-year burn. It roughly parallels North Siouxon Creek but only reaches it in a couple of spots. Some of the tributary creeks are impressive spates in themselves. The goal is Black Hole Falls, a roaring deluge during the rainy season, which pours through a rocky cleft into a dark amphitheater.

A fairly new section of trail switchbacks down four times past a board with a map of the area into Douglas-fir/western hemlock forest and then into a red alder/big-leaf maple bottomland. There is much sign of elk in this area. The woods here have been regenerating since the 1902 Yacolt Burn, a conflagration that incinerated thousands of acres of old growth forest and dumped half an inch of ash on Portland. The trail passes below a clearcut and undulates in and out of creek gullies. Springs gush along the trail and numerous small creeks require some agility to cross in the wet seasons. Large cedar and Douglas-fir snags attest to the devastation of the burn. Orange paint dots and aluminium diamonds on trees mark the route from time to time, but the tread is well-maintained.

Eventually one sights North Siouxon Creek below and a use trail going down to its bank. Near here, there’s the first of several interesting tributary crossings: this one a sloping, salal-encrusted trunk over a rushing spate. The trail rises, switchbacks, passes the old trail coming up from the former bridge crossing, and makes a traverse through a salal carpet on a steep slope. Pass between two huge snags and below a regenerating clearcut. After this, the trail hangs high above the North Siouxon Gorge, with occasional views down into the narrow defile. Cross a creek with the former footbridge rotting downstream. Hike along a mossy bench, traverse up and cross a few more creeks. Then drop steeply to reach the second big tributary crossing, where you can balance across a rotting, mossy log.

The tread now rises and then runs through a lush, wet, but silent bottomland, the mossy track becoming a series of ponds after rains. Fungi fruit in abundance here in the fall. Cross a creek and head into a gully to find one of the only remaining moss-covered footbridges still intact and then arrive at another interesting creek crossing: here, a couple of 2 x 4s are tacked to a log with a very loose length of twine between them (As of spring 2014, the twine is down). Cross another creek and traverse up to see the first sign on the trail: “Black Hole.”

Go right at the Mitchell Peak-Black Hole Falls Trail Junction. The path leads steeply down, switchbacking twice, to the cold, brooding amphitheater on North Siouxon Creek which holds this thundering 50-foot waterfall. The creek is constricted as it plunges through dark basalt ramparts and a large pool churns with turbulence. The sun doesn’t reach down here most of the year, and temperatures are many degrees cooler than above on the main trail. You can reach some mossy rocks and a small cobble beach to tarry awhile before you begin the hike back.

It’s another 11 miles round-trip from the Black Hole Junction to the top of Mount Mitchell, making for a 20+ mile excursion from the North Siouxon Trailhead if that is your final destination.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Discovery Pass required

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Lookout Mtn, WA #396 and Mount St. Helens, WA #364 (Old trailhead shown)
  • Mount Mitchell and Siouxon Creek Trail Systems (Washington DNR)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument & Administrative Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount St. Helens - Mt. Adams

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hiking: Mount St. Helens by Craig Romano & Aaron Theisen
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Off the Beaten Trail by Matt Reeder

More Links

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.