Devil Canyon Falls (June 6)

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Splintercat
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Devil Canyon Falls (June 6)

Post by Splintercat » June 6th, 2010, 7:18 pm

Thanks Ted, Jamie & Don for a fun trip! This is one that I've been wanting to do for a very long time, not because I hadn't seen the falls (that's easy enough from the well-known canyon viewpoint), but because I wanted to see it up close. I wasn't disappointed -- a very powerful, exciting cascade! It was a wet day, of course, as evidenced by our soggy "trailhead portrait'...

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The waterfall is Devil Canyon Falls, near Rhododendron, located on the unnamed creek that most call "Devils Creek" by virtue of being in Devil Canyon. We started the trip on the old Devil Canyon Trail, which is clearly maintained by Zigzag forest cabin owners. This lovely trail traverses a bit from the flagged trailhead on Zigzag Mountain Road, then gently descends to rushing Devils Creek. Here, a handy log serves as a bridge over the stream:

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The trail climbs gently from the stream, passing a group of giant Douglas fir and western red cedar before entering second-growth forest, and following an old logging grade. At an open bend, where the cabin owners trail drops down to Road 35A, we hung a right, straight down the side of the canyon through an odd mix of manzanita, vine maple and rhododendrons (picture here are Jamie, Don and Ted):

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After a short, steep descent through brush, we turned upstream and soon reached a picturesque talus slope, and knew from photos of the falls that we were closing in -- here's Ted on the talus slope. Our "brushy" descent route emerged from the trees in the distance:

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From here, the trip got very fun and scenic, as we descended into the canyon over the large talus area, framed by a grove of huge Douglas fir:

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Another view of the talus slope, this time looking toward the descent that we would make to reach the falls -- hidden in the mist beyond the trees, just above Jamie:

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We soon reached the roaring, wild whitewater of Devils Creek -- it hardly resembled the rambling stream of the upper canyon, as it tumbled steeply over a jumble of large boulders:

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Working our way upstream just a bit, we were right in front of the thundering lower tier of Devil Canyon Falls:

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The canyon is narrow here, so it's a bit hard to get bearings on what you're looking at, but the combination of the 70-foot final drop and wild 50-foot slide just above it combine to make up the lower 120-foot tier of the falls -- I'll comment on that, below. Ted and Jamie crawled up the rocks on the left side, and spotted a nice splash pool at the base of the lower tier - neat!

Our original plan was to follow the stream down an abandoned road, then walk out to a car we had left as a shuttle at the bottom of Enola Hill Road. After about 30 minutes and 100 yards of steep traversing, we realized that it would take a very long time to cover the roughly 1/2 mile and 600 feet elevation loss (!) between the falls and the abandoned road. It's very rugged, spectacular country in there, and the stream large enough so as to be intimidating to cross.

So, we reverse course, and headed back up the talus slope toward a chute that Don had spotted on the way in. At this point, the rains picked up, and it looked like our climb into the clouds would continue into infinity:

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After a slow climb up the talus wall, Ted and Jamie approach the chute, framed by cliffs on each side... and a few water spots on the lens... ;)

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This is the view down from near the top of the chute, with our route beginning below the big trees on right, near the bottom of the canyon:

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Looking up, at the top of the chute, we spotted a piece of flagging - no obvious trail, but we weren't the first to follow this route into the canyon. The path continues through the trees in this view, for one final, steep climb to the trail:

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This view shows a schematic of our route from the Enola Hill viewpoint, but not one that we saw today -- it was completely fogged in when we stopped to look at the route!

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Now, back to the anatomy of this waterfall: we were so close to the base of the final drop that the even the tall middle tier was out of view. In this photo from last year, you can see how the steep slide, then final sheer drop of the lower tier combine for a 120-foot fall that basically appear as a single tier from anywhere but immediately below the falls. The 120-foot middle tier clearly has a tantalizing splash pool, but is hemmed in by cliffs, and likely only to be visited by some bold canyoneers with rope. The top tier is a 30-40 foot cascade that brings the entire falls to about 275 feet. There's even a fourth tier, back in the trees, that is 10-15 feet tall, and can be reached with a bit of bushwhacking from above:

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Here's a map of the trip -- the old Devil Canyon Trail is marked in green, and our off-trail route in red (including the short exploration downstream from the falls). The elevation drop from the old Devil Canyon Trail to the falls is about 300 vertical feet in about one quarter mile from the "brushy" route, and about one fifth of a mile along the chute route.

Great trip, and it helped me complete some research on a TKO project that I'm working on, too -- thanks for the hike, Ted, Jamie & Don..!

I'll post video of the trip once I have a chance to assemble it.

Tom :)

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BrianEdwards
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Re: Devil Canyon Falls (June 6)

Post by BrianEdwards » June 7th, 2010, 4:39 am

Awesome trip report, this falls had been on my list for a while. That stream was roaring! Looks like you had a great group with you as well.
Clackamas River Waterfall Project - 95 Documented, 18 to go.

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Devil Canyon Falls (June 6)

Post by Don Nelsen » June 7th, 2010, 7:02 am

Tom,

Great report and pics! - Thanks for organizing and planning this great adventure, too. Here's a photo of the falls taken from my perch on a rock in the middle of the creek:

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Another view of one of the groves of old growth fir halfway up the talus where we climbed out of the canyon:

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The map; Blue is the road we drove in on, red is inbound hike, yellow is return.

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Don
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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Splintercat
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Re: Devil Canyon Falls (June 6)

Post by Splintercat » June 7th, 2010, 7:07 am

Thanks, Brian - it was a fun trip! I don't think anyone was that excited about climbing back out of the canyon, but now that I've looked at the maps a bit closer, the downstream route would have been grueling, not to mention a tough stream crossing. Steep country! I've posted a video (you'll have to put up with my annoying narration) of the trip that gives a better sense of the water volume:



I think a more buff canyon crawler like yourself might be able to reach the illusive middle tier on this falls, following the "chute" route that we used, then cutting across and looking for a shelf that leads to the middle splash pool. It looks to be a lovely spot, albeit safer and more photogenic in lower flows. Here's a close-up of the middle tier -- the left side is totally cliffed out, and while the right seems to be from below, the fact that there's a strip of trees running up the shoulder of the falls suggests it might not be as vertical as it looks:

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The fact that we could see the slide below the middle tier splash pool from below, but not the middle tier, suggests that it's a sizable pool tucked in there -- my favorite kind of spot! But a bit gonzo for me, I'm afraid. I'm just happy to have stood up close in the roar and spray..!

Nice photos, Don! Excellent view from across the creek, too -- but I won't tell anyone how you got there... or especially how you got BACK..! Nice that you've got Ted and Jamie in the corner of your falls view for scale... easy to miss that the logs in that pile were 4-5 feet in diameter. Cool spot!

-Tom :D

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AlexanderSupertramp
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Re: Devil Canyon Falls (June 6)

Post by AlexanderSupertramp » June 7th, 2010, 7:15 am

Well done guys! That middle tier splash pool does look inviting :-)

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Splintercat
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Re: Devil Canyon Falls (June 6)

Post by Splintercat » June 7th, 2010, 7:32 am

Thanks, Adam - it does, indeed!

Don, the more I looked at your straight-on photo last night, the more I thought that we were looking at the top of the middle tier, and that the two tiers were sort of blended by the foreshortening effect and massive flows. Take a look at the rock in your photo compared to my long view from last year -- especially the backward C-shaped crack that I've pointed to. I think we were immediately below the the middle tier splash pool:

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If true, then your view shows an approach to the middle tier from the right side to be viable... hmm....

Tom :)

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Devil Canyon Falls (June 6)

Post by Don Nelsen » June 7th, 2010, 9:37 am

Splintercat wrote:Nice photos, Don! Excellent view from across the creek, too -- but I won't tell anyone how you got there... or especially how you got BACK..! Nice that you've got Ted and Jamie in the corner of your falls view for scale... easy to miss that the logs in that pile were 4-5 feet in diameter. Cool spot!

-Tom :D
Tom,

Great video and again, thank you for all the work that went into everything you did. I've got to learn how to do videos - very well done!

Don
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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Splintercat
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Re: Devil Canyon Falls (June 6)

Post by Splintercat » June 7th, 2010, 11:53 am

...except that now Bongo is going to want an agent... BTW, my wife watched the video, she agrees with Bongo..!

-Tom :D

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fettster
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Re: Devil Canyon Falls (June 6)

Post by fettster » June 7th, 2010, 12:05 pm

Is this the falls visible off forest road 27, on the way to the East Zigzag TH? Nice work there gentlemen!

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Splintercat
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Re: Devil Canyon Falls (June 6)

Post by Splintercat » June 7th, 2010, 12:38 pm

That's the one! The long views that I posted are taken from that spot about a year ago -- yesterday, the falls were complete lost in low clouds, though we did poke around the viewpoint a bit (Don was admiring the artifacts that had been tossed/driven over the cliff over the decades).

Tom :)

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