Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

West Fork Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The "footbridge" above West Fork Falls (bobcat)
Cascades frog (Rana cascadae), Still Creek (bobcat)
Broad-leaf lupine (Lupinus latifolius), Eastleg Road (bobcat)
West Fork Falls (bobcat)
Trail to West Fork Falls and the loop option (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Eastleg Road TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: West Fork Falls
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 2.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 405 feet
  • High Point: 4,800 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Summer into fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

The West Fork of the Salmon River rises from a series of springs in dry montane forest on the southern slopes of Mount Hood. Although this area is surrounded by downhill and cross-country ski trails, few hikers venture into here in the summer. Thus, the falls on the West Fork are little visited, and would be even less so had this hike not appeared in Douglas Lorain's comprehensive guide Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver. This short walk can be extended into a more adventurous loop by finding an old trail alignment that extends up the gully of the West Fork and then getting expansive views of the Oregon Cascades as you hike down Westleg Road. Note that these trails are unofficial and unsigned, so keep your bearings at all times.

Head past the boulders on the Eastleg Road (Tie Ski Trail #674A) in a forest of mountain hemlock, Engelmann spruce, western white pine, and silver fir. Reach a campsite where Eastleg Road crosses Still Creek, rise, and then drop around a turn. Bear-grass, huckleberries, grouseberry, and lupine line the route. The road keeps dropping. You may have to step over or around some blowdown. At a tiny cairn on the left and red flagging, the trail to West Fork Falls takes off up into the woods.

Huckleberries form the understory. Pass around a downed silver fir. You will get partial views of West Fork Falls through the trees. Make a traverse to the right and drop slightly to a multi-branch, slippery bridge across the West Fork Salmon River at the top of the waterfall. In order to get a full-frontal photo, you'll need to head back and skid down the steep slope.

You may want to turn back before crossing the West Fork. If not, you can add elevation and length to the hike by following a sketchy trail tread, making a short bushwhack, and then strolling down Westleg Road to your car. The total loop would be 5 miles with 900 feet in elevation gain.

Cross the branch bridge on all fours as it is very slippery. The trail heads up the east side of the stream. It is very lush down in the gully, with marsh-marigold and violets blooming in mid-summer. A well-established deer trail crosses the human one. Pass the first of three tributary falls coming into the creek from the west side. There are larger Engelmann spruce here and more blowdown as well as trees that have been bent over by snow weight. After the third side fall, the West Fork’s bed runs dry. Cross over to the left side of the creek bed and head up. Snow lingers late in this gully bottom. Cross to the right side and head up near the bank. A fallen mountain hemlock straddles the creek bed. Right after this, the trail makes two short switchbacks up the bank. Keep up, crossing a gully. From here, the trail tread is lost. Rejoin the bed of the West Fork and head up to the right. In a few yards, some Caution flagging denotes a deer trail heading straight up from the left bank. This trail reaches a meadow. Head up the meadow and reach a ski run. Trees on the south side of this run are marked with Ski Area Boundary signs. It’s a short drop from here to the Westleg Road (FR 2645).

Walk down the paved road. Cross the Brother Bear downhill run and then Uncle Jon’s Band. The road switchbacks under a chairlift. There’s a view of Mount Hood and then south to Trillium Lake, Mount Jefferson, and the Three Sisters. Cross another ski run and pass the junction with the FR 040 spur. The road winds down; you hike by the chairlift terminal and cross two rushing creeks, which are the sources of Still Creek. Willows shade the watercourses. Pass through an open yellow gate and wind down with the Still Creek canyon below to the left. There is one last turn and you reach your car at Eastleg Road.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • none

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Note that there are no maps which show this trail. The following cover the area in some detail.
  • Green Trails Maps: Mount Hood, OR #462S
  • Geo-Graphics: Mount Hood Wilderness Map

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Hikes & Walks on Mt. Hood by Sonia Buist & Emily Keller

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.