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Tamanawas Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View from behind Tamanawas Falls (Tom Kloster)
The footbridge over Cold Spring Creek on the Tamanawas Falls Trail (bobcat)
Cold Spring Creek (Greg Lief)
Andesite cliffs above the Tamanawas Falls Trail (bobcat)
Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata), Tamanawas Falls Trail (bobcat)
Tamanawas Falls (Greg Lief)
Cold Spring Creek and Tamanawas Falls (Tom Kloster)
The in and out route to Tamanawas Falls (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo/USFS)
  • Start point: Tamanawas Falls TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Tamanawas Falls
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Distance: 3.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 560 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Late spring into late fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes

Contents

Hike Description

Tamanawas Falls forms a broad curtain where Cold Spring Creek thunders over a 110-foot lava cliff near the eastern base of Mount Hood. This hike along scenic Cold Spring Creek has been a traditional trek for families and can be enjoyed any time of the year with the right preparation. The waterfall is reduced to a thin veil in late summer and fall, but summer wildflowers and fall colors make the hike up the creek a worthy excursion. It's possible to see the falls in winter, when the spray freezes over and forms a massive ice grotto in the amphitheater, but snowshoes may be required.

The hike begins at the Tamanawas Falls Trailhead. From the large parking area, take the trail through the woods toward the roaring East Fork of the Hood River. You'll cross the raging stream on a massive log bridge. Turn right after crossing the bridge, and follow the East Fork Trail #650 north as it gradually climbs high above the river and highway. At the half-mile mark, pass a viewpoint and round the corner into Cold Spring Creek canyon, passing the East Fork-Tamanawas Falls Trail Junction. Keep left and drop down the slope towards a bridge over Cold Spring Creek. The continuation of the East Fork Trail heads north (right), and is an alternate route to the falls from the Polallie Trailhead (See the Tamanawas Falls Loop Hike).

After crossing the creek, the Tamanawas Falls Trail ambles upstream, always within sight of the rushing stream, which tumbles over a series of tiny waterfalls. Engelmann spruce, western red-cedar, and Douglas-fir form the forest canopy. At 1.5 miles, begin climbing above the creek. Pass the signed Tamanawas Falls-Tamanawas Tie Trail Junction on the right and look up to admire the andesite cliff faces. Below, Cold Spring Creek rushes through Sitka alder thickets. Switchback up through a large boulder field. Beyond the rockfall, the trail enters forest and soon arrives at a fine view upstream to Tamanawas Falls. From here, you can simply enjoy the falls from the trail, or follow one of the use paths for a closer look. Sure-footed hikers can climb the talus to the right of the falls to reach the grotto behind the falls.

To complete the hike, simply return along the same route.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) required at Tamanawas Falls Trailhead.
  • Restrooms, picnic tables, information kiosk
  • Dogs on leash

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Mt. Hood, OR #462
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area
  • Adventure Maps: Hood River, Oregon, Trail Map
  • Geo-Graphics: Mount Hood Wilderness Map
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Hood National Forest
  • Discover Your Northwest: Mt. Hood National Forest North: Trail Map & Hiking Guide
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Hood River Ranger District
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood Wilderness
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount Hood

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon by Adam Sawyer
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson & Zach Urness
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • I Heart Oregon (& Washington) by Lisa D. Holmes
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • Oregon: The Creaky Knees Guide by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Day Hike! Columbia Gorge by Seabury Blair, Jr.
  • Portland Hikes by Art Bernstein & Andrew Jackman
  • Hiking Oregon's Mount Hood & Badger Creek Wilderness by Fred Barstad
  • Best Short Hikes in Northwest Oregon by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • 50 Hikes in Oregon by David L. Anderson
  • 105 Virtual Hikes of the Mt. Hood National Forest by Northwest Hiker
  • Oregon's Columbia River Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • 62 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • 70 Hiking Trails: Northern Oregon Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Waterfall Lover’s Guide: Pacific Northwest by Gregory A. Plumb
  • Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest by David L. Anderson
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

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.