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Dry Creek Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Dry Creek Falls (Tom Kloster)
Dry Creek below Dry Creek Falls (bobcat)
Maidenhair fern, Dry Creek Falls (bobcat)
Old water works at Dry Creek Falls (bobcat)
Dry Creek Falls in winter (Cheryl Hill)
Dry Creek Falls Map (click to enlarge)

Contents

Hike Description

Dry Creek Falls plunges 74 feet over a basalt wall in a secluded amphitheater near Cascade Locks. It is easily reached via the Pacific Crest Trail and is a popular destination for those interested in a short, woodsy hike with plenty of Gorge ambience. At the base of the falls are the remains of a water diversion works. In the 1930s, the rapidly expanding town of Cascade Locks got its water supply from this location during the construction of the Bonneville Dam. The creek was channeled into a tunnel and thus ran "dry" on its original bed. Almost the entire area of this hike was affected by the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire. You'll see blackened tree trunks and a recovering understory, but most of the canopy is still intact.

This hike starts you at the Bridge of the Gods Trailhead. From the trailhead, cross the road and head up the Pacific Crest Trail parallel to I-84. There's an old safety fence on your right. Soon, you'll come to Moody Street as it crosses under the freeway. Walk the road uphill to the right, passing under the freeway. When the road angles left, keep right on a gravel road a short distance to a couple of parking pullouts. Altogether the road walking here is about 100 yards. The trail to the right is the Gorge Trail headed toward the Ruckel Creek Trail and the Eagle Creek Campground. You'll take the Pacific Crest Trail to the left, which also doubles as the Gorge Trail #400 heading east from here.

The Crest Trail heads gradually uphill, never too steep, through a pretty, dappled sun kind of forest dominated by Douglas-firs and big-leaf maples, the latter providing a colorful display in the fall. In the spring, forest wildflowers including columbines are common here. Almost immediately, you'll see evidence of the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire. The trail swings right and then loops back along a slope of larger Douglas-firs and hemlocks. About one mile in, you'll come to a powerline access road. Turn right here and follow the road a short distance under the powerlines to the resumption of the trail in the woods. Pass an impressive Douglas-fir on the left side of the trail. Soon after the powerline road, you'll make a traverse along a very steep slope. Then the trail begins a gradual descent to Dry Creek. This section of trail heads gradually downward through an interesting area of large lava boulders and trees for almost another mile.

At Dry Creek, the trail comes to another dirt road (Ten yards before this road is the almost invisible junction with the abandoned Rudolph Spur Trail). Across the road, you'll see the Pacific Crest Trail crossing Dry Creek on a wooden footbridge. To get to Dry Creek Falls, instead of crossing the bridge, turn right here and head up the rough track about 2/10 of a mile to the falls. Trees at the top of the falls were more heavily damaged by the Eagle Creek Fire than those below. Dry Creek hasn't run dry since the diversion apparatus was decommissioned, and the falls put on a pretty display throughout the year, although with much greater volume in the wet months. After enjoying the spray of the falls in the quietude of this little amphitheater, return the way you came in.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Bonneville Dam, OR #429
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia River Gorge - West #428S
  • Geo-Graphics: Trails of the Columbia Gorge
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service/Bureau of Land Management: Columbia River Gorge
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Hood River Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Fees, Regulations, etc.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon by Adam Sawyer
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • Curious Gorge by Scott Cook
  • Day Hikes in the Columbia Gorge by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • Afoot and Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Oregon: The Creaky Knees Guide by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • Hiking the Columbia River Gorge by Russ Schneider; revised by Jim Yuskavitch
  • Columbia Gorge Getaways by Laura O. Foster
  • Oregon's Columbia River Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • 70 Virtual Hikes of the Columbia River Gorge by Northwest Hiker
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Waterfall Lover's Guide: Pacific Northwest by Gregory A.Plumb
  • Waterfalls of the Columbia Gorge, Volume One: Oregon by Zach Forsyth

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.