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Elowah Falls

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Elowah Falls (Steve Hart)
Remains of the hiker bridge in early 2023, Elowah Falls (bobcat)


Elowah Falls is an impressive waterfall, easily comparable with Multnomah Falls in majesty, if not height. McCord Creek spouts in a single hyperbolic curve from a basalt defile to the splash pool below. A small bridge, usually soaked by spray, crosses the creek just below the falls. The amphitheater, splashed with colonies of golden cobblestone lichen, exhibits spectacular layers of several members of the Columbia River Flood Basalts, with single flows usually including jumbled layers of entablature bracketing columnar basalt.

The height of the falls is often exaggerated in publications. While the Northwest Waterfall Survey measures the falls at 213 feet, many publications offer a statistic 65 - 75 feet taller, perhaps because they are unknowingly including the height of Upper McCord Creek Falls, which is often seen as an upper tier of Elowah Falls. In fact Elowah Falls was formerly known as McCord Creek Falls or Lower McCord Creek Falls. In 1915, a commission of outdoors organizations, including the Mazamas, renamed a few of the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, replacing settler names with lyrical Indian words. Unfortunately, the meaning or indeed the original language of elowah has been lost to time.

In 2021, a landslide severely damaged the hiker bridge on the 400 Trail below the waterfall. Hikers can still cross the creek with care, a more daunting and slippery affair in the winter months.

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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.

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