“a dramatic waterfall plunge”
Elowah Falls is one of the hidden gems in the Columbia River Gorge. The falls flow year round, but are best in the late winter and spring, like many others in the area. The cliffs on either side of the falls are flanked with the colorful yellow-green lichen found throughout the Columbia Gorge, adding a lot to the aesthetics of the scene. The falls are usually said to stand 289 feet tall, however repeated visits led us to doubt the validity of that figure. At certain places along the trail to the falls its possible to see Elowah and a part of Upper McCord Creek Falls in tandem, which could have possibly led to the idea that it was one series of waterfalls. Turns out the USGS had sent a survey team to determine the height of the falls in 1916 - their efforts produced a height of 221 feet. We measured the falls in 2009 to be 213 feet tall, so the only way the height of 289 feet could have materialized is if Upper McCord Creek Falls were included. Along the trail to both Elowah and Upper McCord Creek Falls can be seen several sections of old cast iron and wooden pipes which were used to flume pressurized water water to the Crown Willamette Paper Company mill along the Columbia River. Elowah Falls is somewhat similar in appearance to Latourell Falls. The hike begins along the Gorge Trail (#400). Keep left at the first junction, then left again at the second junction (in 0.2 miles). This short, not overly difficult hike will bring you to a bridge over McCord Creek right at the base of the falls, where you can watch the dramatic waterfall plunge 228 ft. right in front of you. If you go right at the second junction onto the Elowah Falls Trail, you will come to another great viewpoint of Elowah Falls, near the top of the waterfall. This Elowah Falls Trail also continues up to Upper McCord Creek Falls. Elowah Falls is commonly cited as being 289 ft. high. It is not nearly this tall. My measurement was 228 ft. (which is close to Bryan Swans measurement of 213 ft.). I suspect the 289 ft. measurement includes Upper McCord Creek Falls in the height, which is a short distance upstream of Elowah.
Amazing, breath taking and def a hidden gem. I took my 5 and 11 year old and they loved it so much they want to go back on our way home. It was a pretty easy hike and worth it for the amazing view. This is now our number 1 hike.
Yes, this can be a kid-friendly hike - if you go the right way! I learned this the hard way. If you take the trail by the Elowah Falls sign, you're in for a more difficult - and at times, dangerous - hike. It's muddy and slick with water, the trail is really thin at places as you wind the cliffs, and you have to step over a million embedded rocks in the path that are easy ankle twisters. Somehow my kiddo and I got through it, but there were times I considered turning around. What you probably want to do is take the easy path. To do that, don't take the trail by the sign. Walk beyond the parking spaces and follow the road a bit, until you wrap around the curve and see a second trail.
No matter the route you choose, you will be rewarded greatly. I can't tell you how amazing it is once you get there. The cliff walls are so high and beautiful. Well worth the hike!
A 228-foot tall, year-round hidden gem, found in Columbia River Gorge.
This is definitely a hidden gem as it can be rather difficult to find! I accidentally took a wrong turn and hiked 3 miles in the wrong direction! But once you find it...
WOW! is it ever a gorgeous waterfall! One of my definite favorites in the entire gorge!
Beautiful waterfall! The trail that starts by the sign in the parking lot goes almost uphill the whole way but it’s totally worth it. If I can make it, you can too lol There’s an easier trail mentioned in the comments. (I’ll look for it next time)
Majestic and out of this world!
My favorite falls. Very beautiful and worth the hike.
Not a good outing if you have young children. Total waste of time. And didn't even get to see it because we got half way there and were too tired and irritated to keep going! But the photos online are gorgeous!
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