Quartz Creek, Lewis River Waterfalls, and Big Creek Falls

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ElementalFX
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Quartz Creek, Lewis River Waterfalls, and Big Creek Falls

Post by ElementalFX » July 9th, 2014, 12:35 am

On June 30th, my mom and I headed up to the Lewis River area of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to see the various waterfalls, old growth, and creeks of the area.

Opening image: Lower Falls of the Lewis River
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We started off by looking for the Big Creek Falls Trailhead, but found it to be abandoned. The sign was gone, and the large parking area was blocked by wooden posts driven into the ground. I stopped to check it out, to see if there was a sign or something as to why it was closed. I saw no sign at all, and the trail was still there, aside from a from a few logs and downed wood on the trail. I ran down the trail to see what was wrong, and within about two minutes on the trail, I was at the viewpoint for the waterfall.

The Well-built Loop Trail:
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Looking up one of the 7+ feet diameter trees:
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Big Creek Falls:
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The falls was loud, and and came pouring about 110 feet off the walls of the horseshoe-shaped canyon. It was truly an impressive sight. Later that day, I looked up the trail online, and found that it was closed indefinitely due to hazard trees. So sad. :cry: I have to give this waterfall credit, as it impressed me more than many other waterfalls I've seen in more popular areas, like the Gorge. Having the falls all to myself that day really made a difference in the "awe" feeling.

After Big Creek Falls, we headed up paved Forest Road 90 to the Quartz Creek Trailhead, to hike up Quartz Creek, famous for its impressive old growth stands, 5 feet in diameter trees, some even up to 6 and 7 feet wide, according to one of my hiking book's I bought from the WTA Washington Day Hiking series. I want to thank the WTA Team for clearing out this trail over that last 3 years too. :D They did a superb job! It is a very beautiful trail, and features some of the best old growth forests in all of Southwest Washington's Volcano Country.

The Quartz Creek Trailhead:
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Trail through Old Growth Forest:
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The trail at first follows the creek closely:
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Quartz Creek:
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A bee on a pink flower:
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Soon the trail crossed Platinum Creek on this bridge:
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We didn't get nearly as far as I hoped, because of a few reasons. First, we got out later than usual from Portland, second, the trail was slick and muddy like wet soap, and third, the bridge at Straight Creek was broken, and we saw no way to cross without getting muddy on the steep bank and/or getting our shoes wet. And it didn't help that the trail was just covered in spider webs. :x It was very beautiful, though. I am thinking about a backpacking trip here sometime in the future, using this trail as an access into the very beautiful and rugged Dark Divide Area. :)

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The trail then started to climb above the creek, up some switchbacks. The trail here was really slow going, as it was muddy and slick like soft butter!

The trail goes around a rockslide area:
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Looking down at Quartz Creek from the trail:
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We saw a garter snake dart across the trail in front of us:
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A very large tree:
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A nice campsite:
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Quartz Creek:
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Fluttershy loves nature in the show. I'm sure she is enjoying this hike. :lol:
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Quartz Creek:
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The broken bridge across Straight Creek:
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We saw a muddy scramble path down the creek bank, and after some thought, we decided to just head back and hike the Lewis River Trail.
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After the hike up Quartz Creek, we headed downriver on the Lewis River Trail, starting at the same Quartz Creek Trailhead.

Starting out on the Lewis River Trail:
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The trail started out through beautiful old growth forest. The trail was easier to walk along, because this trail is basically flat. It was the steep portions along the Quartz Creek Trail that was hard to walk in without slipping.
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A large dead snag:
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Large trees along the Lewis River Trail:
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A lovely forest walk:
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We came to some nice views of the Lewis River:
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Forested mountains above the river:
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Interesting dead tree snag:
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After a short while, we came to a view of Taidnapum Falls, which is just upriver of the Upper Falls:
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The trail then starts to climb up to the edge of the Lewis River canyon:
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View across the Lewis River canyon:
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Getting closer to Upper Falls:
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Almost to upper falls!!
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Our first view of the Upper Falls of the Lewis River. It is really an impressive sight. It is probably a hundred feet across, and plunges some 50 feet down the rocky face.
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Continuing on the trail to the spur trail to the viewing platform:
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Upper Falls from the viewing platform:
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Obligatory photo of Fluttershy at Upper Falls. Reason? Ponies, of course! What better reason than that? :lol:
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After Upper Falls, we saw Lower Falls.

Trail sign pointing to Lower Falls viewpoint:
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And again: :D
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We really enjoyed this hike, and will definitely come back to this beautiful area again. :)

Thanks for reading! :D

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Splintercat
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Re: Quartz Creek, Lewis River Waterfalls, and Big Creek Fall

Post by Splintercat » July 9th, 2014, 10:13 pm

Thanks, Fluttershy - excellent report! Too bad about the Big Creek Falls closure - but I guess if you're willing to enter at your own risk, it's still possible to visit.

Thanks for posting!

Tom :)

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Rustygoat
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Re: Quartz Creek, Lewis River Waterfalls, and Big Creek Fall

Post by Rustygoat » July 10th, 2014, 11:56 am

It is sad to see that the Big Creek Falls trail is still closed. Last year I camped in the area two weeks in a row. The first weekend we visited Big Creek Falls and the next weekend we were driving by as a ranger was removing the trail-head sign. :cry:

Sad to see the bridge out at Strait Creek as well. That trail is really neat....you should go back and go farther. :)

Thanks for sharing. :)
Tim

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Boozeman
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Re: Quartz Creek, Lewis River Waterfalls, and Big Creek Fall

Post by Boozeman » July 10th, 2014, 8:05 pm

Another fantastic report!!! :D

I was out there a few years back, but never made it up to the Upper Falls. Now it looks like I might have to go back and check it out. Still some pretty impressive water flow going on up there.
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The water level was a LOT lower when I was out there. Lower Falls was still pretty impressive even without as much water.

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drm
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Re: Quartz Creek, Lewis River Waterfalls, and Big Creek Fall

Post by drm » July 11th, 2014, 10:04 am

The water level was a LOT lower when I was out there. Lower Falls was still pretty impressive even without as much water.
I don't think that all waterfalls are necessarily at their most picturesque with the highest flow. They might be more dramatic, but in some cases all that water washes out some of the details for the more complex falls, by which I mean those with interesting shapes. I think that Lower Falls is one of those, as is Twister and Ramona.

Others, like Multnomah and Falls Creek Falls, are at their best with the greatest flow IMO.

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