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Rattlesnake Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Rattlesnake Falls in its box canyon (bobcat)
Brown's peony (Paeonia brownii), Rattlesnake Falls (bobcat)
Acmon blue (Icaricia acmon) on heart-leaf buckwheat (bobcat)
Lip of Lower Rattlesnake Falls (bobcat)
Big-head clover (Trifolium macrocephalum), Rattlesnake Canyon Viewpoint (bobcat)
Walking routes at Rattlesnake Falls (bobcat)
  • Start point: Rattlesnake Falls TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Rattlesnake Canyon Viewpoint
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 2.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 525 feet
  • High Point: 1960 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Spring through Fall, but the falls can dry up after June
  • Family Friendly: Yes, except for cliff areas
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No
Falling
Snakes

Contents

Hike Description

Rattlesnake Falls drops in a classic basalt box canyon that itself leads to another waterfall, Lower Rattlesnake Falls, which spouts into a deep plunge pool below a towering cliff face. The variety of wildflowers here in the spring is a second lure. This is a remote area and there are use trails across Washington Department of Natural Resources land, but private land is all around. Stay within the boundary signs, watch out for rattlesnakes, and take care at the cliff edges.

From the parking area, cross over a berm and head down to Rattlesnake Creek. Reach the site of the Rattlesnake Creek Bridge, which was taken out in 2009 to bar access to ORVs. Jog right at the creek and walk along the bank until you reach a fallen ponderosa pine snag that serves as a great footbridge. After crossing the creek, get back to the road and hike along it to a junction (An alternative route is to take a cattle trail that heads across meadows keeping away from the woods to the right). Go right here and keep heading gently up in a ponderosa parkland until the road jogs sharp right and heads down to cross a small creek. In the spring, the soggy ground is dotted with plectritis, buttercup, broomrape, shooting stars and saxifrage. The road track heads down to the lip of a box canyon and a great view of Rattlesnake Falls. There’s also a small falls coming down the opposite cliff. You can cross the creek above the falls hike a little way along the other side of the canyon to get some face on views of the cascade, which only pours quantities of water early in the spring. Brown's peonies form clusters under the trees above Rattlesnake Falls.

Next, head south away from the falls, crossing soggy ground above the canyon and looking back to get good views of the falls. Cattle do come into this area, and you may encounter some. See a Douglas-fir wooded point ahead leading right. Keep to the left of this point and reach the Rattlesnake Canyon Viewpoint on a high cliff. You can walk on state land along the cliff as far as the trees. Big-head clover, balsamroot, and Columbia desert-parsley all bloom here.

For Lower Rattlesnake Falls, go back to the Douglas-fir copse on the point and find a scramble trail that heads steeply down past a rock outcrop to a talus field. The trail switchbacks at a Douglas-fir and then heads diagonally down across the talus. When you reach the edge of the trees, there are two choices. You can head straight down to the lip of Lower Rattlesnake Falls, with its clumps of Barrett's penstemon, and enjoy views down into its plunge pool hemmed in by cliffs. The other option is to go left and head along the rim of the canyon to a couple of viewpoints, whence you can look back and see the full height of the Lower Falls. You can also look east along the canyon to where Mill Creek joins Rattlesnake Creek.

Scramble back up the slope and wander back the way you came.


Maps

Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Stay on state land; there are signs posted at the boundaries.
  • Take care at the edge of Rattlesnake Canyon.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook

More Links

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.