Dry Creek Falls, 9/12/2021

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pdxalex
Posts: 15
Joined: July 26th, 2016, 4:04 pm

Dry Creek Falls, 9/12/2021

Post by pdxalex » September 13th, 2021, 8:41 am

With plenty of house projects to work on, my wife and I opted for a quick, easy on the knees hike in the Gorge. Generally we try to avoid the Gorge trails because of the crowds but we we were curious about how the area has rebounded from the Eagle Creek fire. Dry Creek Falls, along with Wahkeena Falls, was a favorite spot to visit when our kids were little. A little bit of effort with a nice reward.
the falls.jpg
We arrived in Cascade Locks around 0930 and parked on the main drag just past the turn to the Bridge of the Gods and walked up to the trail. It is in very good shape, often 3-4 feet wide although it narrows in a few places thanks to aggressive vine maple. It is very, very dusty which shouldn't be surprise consider how little rain we've seen. It doesn't take long to see fire damage.
char.jpg
Many trees are scorched around the base, some 10-15' up the trunk. The understory must have been burned to the ground. Granted it has been probably 15 years since I last walked this trail with young kids, but the forest floor looks pretty bare especially as you get deeper in the forest. It is green but just not as densely packed with plants as would normally be expected. Ferns and vine maple are rebounding though. It would be interesting to understand the fire behavior. In some places, you'd see an undamaged tree surrounded by charred ones. In others, half of a deadfall would be scorched while the other half, separated only by the trail, is untouched.

As the Field Guide notes, the trail is pretty busy. We only saw a few people before we got to the waterfall. On the way back, however, we passed group after group, many with dogs. About half of the people would put on a mask when passing.

This is an easy walk, about 4.5 miles round trip and maybe 700' or so of elevation gain. The trail is pretty rocky so closed toe shoes are a good idea, not the flip flops and open toe sandals that some were wearing. That sight always leaves me wondering what people were thinking but to each their own.

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sgyoung
Posts: 343
Joined: November 3rd, 2013, 7:30 pm
Location: Seattle

Re: Dry Creek Falls, 9/12/2021

Post by sgyoung » September 17th, 2021, 6:35 pm

Thanks for posting. Beautiful pictures! It looks like you had a great day :)

It is interesting to see the post-fire condition of various areas that burned. This looks like mostly positive fire e.g., the cleared out understory but lots of living trees. It's amazing to see how high the bark can burn sometimes without killing the tree.

My wife and I hiked 4th of July Creek to Icicle Ridge in the Enchantments last week and much of the trail is through an old burn and there a lot of big old trees that seems healthy but with burn scars running well up the bark. There were also notable difference in burn severity throughout just a few miles, with some areas pretty thoroughly fried and others with cleared understory but otherwise looking good.

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