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Tarbell Trail to Hidden Falls Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Hidden Falls, Tarbell Trail (bobcat)
Snow queen (Synthyris reniformis), Tarbell Trail (bobcat)
Silver Star Mt. from Kloochman Butte, Tarbell Trail (bobcat)
Bridge over North Fork Coyote Creek, Tarbell Trail (bobcat)
The Tarbell Trail route to Hidden Falls (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Tarbell TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Hidden Falls
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 10.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1415 feet
  • High point: 2,520 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Spring through fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The Tarbell Trail is a 25-mile loop in the western reaches of Washington's Yacolt Burn State Forest that connects the Rock Creek and Cold Creek Campgrounds with Larch Mountain, the western slopes of Silver Star Mountain, and Kloochman Butte (formerly Squaw Butte). Most of this forest has been logged at least once, and you may encounter trail detours around logging operations. The section of the Tarbell Trail that begins at the Tarbell Trailhead is the start of the 25-mile loop and and you will encounter mileage markers along the way. While much of the forest is secondary forest, with some clearcuts that offer your only expansive views, there are pockets of older woodland on the slopes of Silver Star Mountain. The objective is Hidden Falls, a spectacular and unexpected drop on the South Fork Coyote Creek. The Tarbell Trail is shared with mountain bikers and horses, so be prepared to make way when occasion arises.

The Tarbell Trail is named after a hermit named George Lee Tarbell, who created a part of the current trail route to access his isolated shack. In July 1925, Tarbell got into an altercation with two young men who were harvesting cascara bark (used to make laxatives) on his property. He shot and killed one of them, but was acquitted in court for reason of self-defense. The current trail route was completed in 1970.

Hike up past some picnic tables and an outhouse. The trail enters a clearcut and reaches a junction with a tie trail leading down to Road L1100. Here, head right past Milepost 0.0. Walk up a slope to a Leave Tree Area in the clearcut to the signposted Tarbell Trail Junction. Three miles to the south (right) is the Rock Creek Campground. Instead, go left for Hidden Falls. As you ascend through the clearcut, there are views to the left to the Siouxon Peak/Huffman Peak ridge and the tops of Mount Mitchell and Mount Saint Helens. There are also glimpses of Silver Star Mountain. Enter Douglas-fir forest and switchback twice through an Oregon grape, sword fern, and salal carpet. Then, the trail drops slightly and crosses a road.

Head up and then descend past MP 1.0. The path rises into another clearcut and drops, getting views down the valleys to Dole and Yacolt. Rise again, crossing over an abandoned logging road in a young Douglas-fir plantation. The trail crosses an old ATV track and levels on a traverse across the face of Kloochman Butte (renamed from Squaw Butte). Here there is mixed forest of Douglas-fir, noble fir, and silver fir. At an opening, one can see past the trees to Silver Star Mountain and Sturgeon Rock. The trail descends and you pass the 2.5 mile marker. There are more expansive views, including back to Larch Mountain. Pass a mysterious, unmarked trail junction which horses appear to use. The trail crosses a clearcut on the level with an open view of Sturgeon Rock. Hike below a logging road, cross two creeks (The trees in the creek drainages have been left standing), pass MP 3.5, reenter the clearcut, and then pass through an alder stand and enter a large clearcut. Here, find the Tarbell-Chinook Trail Junction.

Ascend to a new logging road and go down to the right for about 30 yards. Reenter the woods on a level traverse and pass through an alder-shaded spring area. Pass MP 4.0 under a Douglas-fir, silver fir, and noble fir canopy in a salal/Oregon grape carpet. The trail drops and makes six short switchbacks. Cross two creeks and then another in hemlock/Douglas-fir woods carpeted by sword fern. Reach a substantial footbridge over the North Fork Coyote Creek and follow a level trail, which then begins to drop gradually past MP 5.0. Switchback down twice to a footbridge over the South Fork Coyote Creek. Ninety-foot Hidden Falls drops spectacularly upstream. According to the Northwest Waterfall Survey, the historical name for these falls is Linton Falls; Coyote Creek Falls is an alternative name as well. Use the bench here to contemplate the seclusion and beauty of this spot and, when you are ready, return the way you came.


Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Discover Pass required at trailhead
  • Share trail with mountain bikers and horses

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Mountain Biking: Portland by Scott Rapp

More Links


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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