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Umbrella Falls Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Umbrella Falls (Tom Kloster)
Lupine (Tom Kloster)
Sahale Falls (Tom Kloster)
Hood River Meadows (Tom Kloster)
The loop hike to Umbrella and Sahale Falls (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo/Map Builder Topo
  • Start point: Elk Meadows TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point Umbrella Falls
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 4.1 miles round-trip
  • Elevation gain: 840 feet
  • High Point: 5,270 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Summer into fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes

Contents

Hike Description

This family-friendly loop in the vicinity of Hood River Meadows on the slopes below the Mt. Hood Meadows ski area offers a display of wildflowers in July and August as well as a visit to two popular waterfalls, Umbrella and Sahale Falls. It's a fine choice even when the upper slopes of Mount Hood are concealed by clouds. The route is described as an anticlockwise loop from the Elk Meadows Trailhead. Since these trails are outside the Mt. Hood Wilderness, note that you'll be sharing the route with mountain bikers.

The hike begins at the Elk Meadows Trailhead. Hike 0.3 miles through an open forest of silver fir, Douglas-fir, noble fir, Engelmann spruce and western white pine. There’s a huckleberry understory that invites plunder in late summer. Cross one cross-country ski corridor and then another one. An unmarked trail leads left to a parking area for the Meadows Nordic Center. Reach the junction with the Umbrella Falls Trail, and go left. Immediately begin climbing around a rocky bluff where there are some impressive mountain hemlocks, passing under the first of several chairlifts that crisscross the area. In summer, lupine, golden pea, aster, subalpine daisy, and paintbrush bloom here. You'll get a view of Hood River Meadows spreading out below. Switchback on an old road bed, and then resume the trail, which here can be riddled with mountain beaver burrows. Pass under a ski lift, getting a view up to Mount Hood, and then cross three small creeks, where you look for Cascades frogs and blooming orchids and monkey flower. Cross another ski run, and descend to another creek where groundsel, heliotrope, and false hellebore bloom. Reach the junction with the trail to Sahale Falls at the 1.7 mile mark.

You'll return to this junction to complete the loop, but first keep straight, and at 2.0 miles, reach graceful Umbrella Falls. The footbridge across the East Fork makes for a nice lunch spot. Kids will have fun exploring the slow, clear pool below the bridge. Adults may notice ski litter that has floated down from the Meadows resort, just upstream, so a good Leave No Trace lesson is for kids is to carry a couple of pieces of litter out.

From Umbrella Falls, backtrack 0.3 miles to the Sahale Falls-Umbrella Falls Trail Junction, and make a right to cross a creek with a marsh and pond to your right. Drop along the side of a draw, and then switchback. Descend through huckleberries, and cross a creek on a footbridge. You'll hear the rushing East Fork plunging down a narrow canyon to the right: A short spur leads to a view. Some large Douglas-firs form a canopy. Reach the Sahale Falls-Sahale Falls Cutoff Trail Junction signed for 'Sahalie Falls' [sic]. To get close to the falls, head right on this rooty user trail. Where the path forks, you can scramble steeply down to the base of Sahale Falls and bathe in its spray. Returning to the fork, you have a choice. Make an even steeper and sketchier descent to the old Mount Hood Highway to get another view of Sahale Falls from the road bridge; return to your car by hiking 0.8 miles along the road to pass Hood River Meadows and reach the trailhead. Otherwise, you can return to the Sahale Falls Trail, and take this gradual descent another half mile. When you reach the old highway, Hood River Meadows is to your left forming a picturesque foreground to the pyramidal elegance of Mount Hood. The Sahale Falls Trail continues through an area where berry gathering is reserved for Native Americans, crosses Meadows Creek, and reaches the Elk Meadows Trailhead.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Mt. Hood, OR #462
  • Adventure Maps: Mt. Hood Area
  • 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
  • Adventure Maps: Hood River, Oregon, Trail Map

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Port-a-potty, information kiosk, picnic table
  • Self-issued wilderness permit
  • Share trails with mountain bikers

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks

  • Best Hikes With Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson & Zach Urness
  • Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon by Adam Sawyer
  • Hiking Oregon's Mount Hood & Badger Creek Wilderness by Fred Barstow
  • Around & About Mount Hood by Sonia Buist with Emily Keller
  • Around Mt. Hood in Easy Stages by Sonia Buist & Emily Keller
  • Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest by David L. Anderson
  • Waterfall Lover's Guide: Pacific Northwest by Gregory A. Plumb
  • Kissing the Trail by John Zilly
  • Mountain Biking Portland by Scott Rapp

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.