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Herman Creek Pinnacles Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Herman Creek Pinnacles (Steve Hart)
Herman Bridge (Steve Hart)
Pacific Crest Falls (Steve Hart)
The route to the Herman Creek Pinnacles from the Herman Creek Trailhead (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo/USFS
  • Start point: Herman Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Herman Creek Pinnacles
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 4.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1305 feet
  • High Point: 970 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes, on weekends

Contents

Hike Description

This short hike takes you to a scattering of large chunks of basalt that slid off the face of the Gorge in an ancient landslide. There are other eroded remnants and prominences in the forest nearby. You can scramble up to a viewpoint to get a vista across the Columbia River. Near the pinnacles is a waterfall that plunges down through a deep cleft, and you'll be crossing Herman Creek on your way to the Herman Creek Pinnacles. The route of the hike was affected by the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, but not severely so, and most of the forest canopy is intact. For a longer hike to the Herman Creek Pinnacles which begins at Cascade Locks, see the Herman Creek Pinnacles via the PCT Hike.

The path drops from the trailhead, but then switchbacks up twice before traversing. There are two more switchbacks in shady big-leaf maple, hemlock, Douglas-fir woods. Reach the powerline corridor and cross it, heading up to the right to reenter the woods. Here, you'll begin to see the effects of the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, with the understory burned away but slowly recovering and the conifer canopy mostly intact. The path winds through an area of large, moss-covered boulders, and then passes an old forest track leading off the left (This track drops down to Herman Creek Road). Pass around the nose of a ridge, switchback twice, and traverse up to the junction with the Herman Bridge Trail #406E, 0.6 miles from the trailhead.

Bear right here, and descend the slope. At a talus opening, you'll get a view up to Nick Eaton Ridge. Bend left to follow an old road bed, and then hike along a forested rim. Switchback down to the Herman Creek Bridge, a large steel truss bridge, and get views up and down Herman Creek as it runs past a verge of alders, maples, and cedars. After the bridge, the trail becomes the northern boundary of the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness.

From here, the trail passes through a maple bottom where both maples and cedars were singed by the 2017 fire. The trail snakes up a moss-carpeted slope and continues ascending, crossing two talus fields. When you reach the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail, make a right.

Cross two talus slopes with views across the Columbia River to Stevenson. Then the path crosses a larger talus slope under sheer cliffs. Maples and elderberries were burned back to their roots in the 2017 fire, but are springing back. Cross a tumbling creek in a shady defile. Above, pouring through a cleft with another tier lower down, is Pacific Crest Falls (an unofficial name). The trail levels after this, and mossy rock pinnacles appear in the woods on the right. A spur trail leads right up to a view of the three largest Herman Creek Pinnacles. Scramble trails lead up the knoll to the west of the pinnacles from which you can get restricted views across the river. Be careful wandering off trail in this area: Poison oak abounds!


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.

  • Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) required
  • Restrooms, picnic table

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • I Heart Oregon (& Washington) by Lisa D. Holmes
  • Afoot and Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland & Northwest Oregon by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 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.