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Young Creek Bottomland Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Blooming wapato below Crown Point on Mirror Lake (bobcat)
Highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum), Young Creek (bobcat)
On the trail, Young Creek (bobcat)
Ladysthumb (Persicaria amphibia), Young Creek (bobcat)
The route along Young Creek shown in red (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Young Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Young Creek Bridge
  • Trail Log :
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 4.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 40 feet
  • High point: 45 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Summer through falll
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The hidden side of Rooster Rock State Park is on the south side of I-84 and includes access to Mirror Lake and the extensive bottomland of Young Creek (before the deapostrophizing of geographical locations, it was known as Young's Creek). The impressive 700-foot cliffs at Crown Point tower above and, after a good rain, Palisade Falls puts on an impressive display. The area floods once the wet season is well underway, so the best time to go is from the end of summer through fall. In September, Mirror Lake hosts a cover of blooming wapato, a water plant whose tubers were a Native American staple. Other unusual plants at Young Creek include Macoun's buttercup and high bush cranberry. There is no trail here, but a maintenance track runs more or less parallel to the freeway and sometimes very close to it. The wetlands here are undergoing a revegetation campaign to restore wildlife habitat. In the early morning or at dusk, you may observe elk using the large meadow at the east end of the area.

A short trail leads down to the muddy shore of Mirror Lake, which is veritably choked with blooming wapato, sedge and rushes. There’s a view up to Crown Point and Palisade Falls. Then head down the graveled track behind the gate along an avenue of Oregon ash with reed canary grass, Himalayan blackberry, spiraea, wild rose and snowberry. Young cottonwoods also shade the trail here and there are oaks up to the left above the flood level. Enter a clearing used to stash debris and materials and follow the road to the right into riparian woods. The track here is grassy and a little overgrown. Walk up towards the freeway, which is where maintenance vehicles enter and find the track mowed from here on although the gravel has ended and it can be a little muddy in parts. Armenian blackberry and ash vegetate the verges. Come into an open grassy area. Young Creek flows in a sedge-choked slough to the right. The road bed is sandy here below the freeway verge. Move away from the highway with ash woods to the left and a field of canary grass to the right. Elk trails lead into this field. Then you’re out on an open mowed expanse and the jeep track leads to the right. Looking left, you can see the east end of Rooster Rock State Park's wooded dune. There is lots of elk sign in this field, which serves as a bedding area for the largest herd in the west Columbia River Gorge.

Cross over the Young Creek Bridge and see the forested Gorge cliffs and the railroad ahead. The mowed track leads to the east around the edges of the field, passing a large ash that can be plagued with tent caterpillar nests in late summer, and ending where Young Creek tumbles down from the slopes above. Listen carefully and you may be able to hear Young Creek Falls (the lowest tier of Shepperds Dell Falls) above the din of the freeway.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • No fee for this part of the state park
  • Park hours: 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • none

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.

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.