Umbrella Falls, Oregon

Umbrella Falls in October 2013

I sometimes visit too many waterfalls. I had been going through pictures at one point, and noticed there seemed to be a waterfall I hadn’t identified. I remember that the waterfall was in Oregon, and went back to find out it was Umbrella Falls. I’m not sure why I missed it!

Umbrella Falls is actually found on Mount Hood. As you’re driving up to the trailhead (which ends up at the ski area if you go a bit further), you will be treated to some amazing views of the summit. The trailhead is relatively easy to find, and the hike to Umbrella Falls is relatively short at just over a quarter mile one-way. It didn’t take a particularly long time to hike to the falls, and it was a very enjoyable hike the whole way. The waterfall is 59′ tall, and is really very beautiful. On the October day I visited, it was surprisingly warm even at this higher elevation, and while the sun made it slightly difficult to photograph the waterfall, it was perfect otherwise.

There is another waterfall, Sahalie Falls, that can be viewed by continuing along this trail. It’s an additional 2.1 miles one-way. I decided to not hike that distance, and I’m guessing it was because it was later in the day and I may have been worn out. From maps, it also looked like Sahalie Falls could be quickly accessed from one of the other forest roads, but I found that the road I was looking for had been blocked off (if I remember correctly). That may have changed in the two years since I’ve been there?

Directions:

  1. From the intersection of US-26 and OR-35, head east/northeast along OR-35.
  2. You will drive just over 6 miles to the “exit” for Mt. Hood Meadows Road.
  3. Drive north along Mt. Hood Meadows Road for about 1.5 miles. If you look to the right as you drive slowly by, you may notice the trail for Umbrella Falls. I believe there was a sign for the falls, but it wasn’t immediately obvious.
  4. I turned around in the ski parking lot (after taking some pictures of Mt. Hood), and then looped back around down and parked on the side of the road.
  5. I started along the trail to Umbrella Falls. It’s a pretty simple/straightforward trail.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Distance of Hike: 0.25 miles one-way
Height: 59′

Where in the World is Umbrella Falls?

White River Falls, Oregon

White River Falls in mid-October 2013

Oregon has two halves. If you’ve ever visited Portland or traveled west toward the coast, you’re greeted with intensely green lush forests. It’s hard to escape the green. If you’ve traveled east from Portland, you’ll know that it suddenly becomes much drier, and far less green. That’s not to say that it’s any less beautiful, it’s just a completely different feel. It feels less “Pacific Coast”, and more desert West.

Even the waterfalls seem different in this drier half. White River Falls might be one of the widest waterfalls in Oregon (outside of Willamette Falls) that I’ve seen. Many of the others in the Columbia River Gorge and near the Central Cascades are much thinner. It’s difficult to tell how wide the falls are in photographs because in order to capture both drops, you’ll miss a portion of the upper falls that is blocked by trees and rock. (One the drops is also commonly known as Celestial Falls.)

It’s a stunning waterfall, especially with the fall colors. This was one of the nicest days I have experienced in Oregon, with the sun shining and blue skies throughout the day. With the sun shining, it was difficult to get photos at certain angles, but there were still more than enough vantage points to lead to some pretty good shots. Near the falls, you’ll also experience the history associated with the dam that existed at the falls at one point. There is an old building still below the base of the second drop that reminds us of the recent past. While this waterfall is somewhat isolated from others, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Directions:

  1. From The Dalles, head south on US-197 for 28 miles or so.
  2. Turn left onto OR-216, and head east for 4 miles.
  3. Turn right into the entrance to White River Falls State Park. There is limited parking, though on this beautiful Saturday, it still seemed more than abundant.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 75′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Where in the World is White River Falls?

Lancaster Falls, Oregon

Lancaster Falls in May 2010

Starting at Starvation Creek State Park’s parking area, there are three waterfalls in a line (4 including Starvation Creek Falls, which is left from the parking area). The first is Cabin Creek Falls. The second is Hole in the Wall Falls. The final waterfall on the trail (at least before you starting climbing uphill) is Lancaster Falls.

Lancaster Falls is much taller than it appears, but it is almost impossible to get a view of the portion of the falls upstream. If I remember correctly, to get to the falls, you do have more of an uphill climb. Also, you may notice from the falls crosses the trail, though you don’t have to cross the creek if you just want to get a photograph from the left. The view from the right was impressive.

Directions:

  1. From I-84, heading EAST, exit at the sign for Starvation Creek State Park. It’s 15 miles from the more commonly known falls west of this park.
  2. As you pull off, the parking area for the park is directly in front of you. There are a number of spaces, but they do fill up quickly.
  3. From the parking area, head west along the trail that follows I-84. You’ll actually be pretty close to I-84 at points. The first waterfall you’ll encounter heading west is Cabin Creek Falls. The second falls is Hole in the Wall Falls.  The final falls is Lancaster Falls.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 303′
Length of Hike: 1.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Lancaster Falls?

Starvation Creek Falls, Oregon

Starvation Creek Falls in May 2010

Starvation Creek Falls is another beautiful waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge. It’s found in Starvation Creek State Park, which is a more distant from Portland than some of the other waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. It was still pretty popular, though there seemed to be more limited parking.

Starvation Creek State Park is the great starting point for at least three other waterfalls (Cabin Creek Falls, Hole in the Wall Falls, and Lancaster Falls). Starvation Creek Falls is the easiest of the falls to visit, and it is only a short walk from the parking area. The other falls can be visited in a 1 mile one-way hike. Overall, the four falls make for a very enjoyable time, and you can get great views of the Columbia River from the park.

Directions:

  1. From I-84, heading EAST, exit at the sign for Starvation Creek State Park. It’s 15 miles (?) distance from the more commonly known falls west of this park.
  2. As you pull off, the parking area for the park is directly in front of you. There are a number of spaces, but they do fill up quickly.
  3. From the parking area, head left on the paved trail to the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 227′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Starvation Creek Falls?

Hole in the Wall Falls, Oregon

Hole in the Wall Falls in May 2010

Starvation Creek State Park is a little further east than some of the more popular waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, and yet you should definitely visit it if you’re in the area. In Starvation Creek State Park, you can see at least four waterfalls along a one mile (one-way) hike. It’s a relatively easy hike (though it does get steeper near the end).

Starvation Creek Falls is right near the parking area. Cabin Creek Falls is the first along the hike, and creates a few difficulties. Hole in the Wall Falls, though, is very easy to view. As you’re hiking along, you’ll cross the creek with a wooden bridge, and from that area, you can get a great view of this pretty impressive waterfall. From this angle, there were at least two drops visible, and there might be more above. As with many of the other waterfalls in Oregon, the moss-covered rocks only enhance the beauty of the falls!

Directions:

  1. From I-84, heading EAST, exit at the sign for Starvation Creek State Park. It’s 15 miles from the more commonly known falls west of this park.
  2. As you pull off, the parking area for the park is directly in front of you. There are a number of spaces, but they do fill up quickly.
  3. From the parking area, head west along the trail that follows I-84. You’ll actually be pretty close to I-84 at points. The first waterfall you’ll encounter heading west is Cabin Creek Falls.  The second falls is Hole in the Wall Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 96′
Length of Hike: 1.2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Hole in the Wall Falls?

Cabin Creek Falls, Oregon

Cabin Creek Falls in May 2010

At first I couldn’t remember where Cabin Creek Falls was in Oregon. I looked at the pictures, and the memories suddenly came back. Cabin Creek Falls is found in Starvation Creek State Park, which is found in a rather odd location on the Columbia River Gorge.

Many of the falls in the gorge are found within a short distance of each other, but Cabin Creek Falls and the others in the park are found further east directly of off I-84. You can only access these falls heading east on I-84. You’ll have to backtrack to get to them if you’re heading west on the interstate.

Starvation Creek Falls is the most easily accessed at the park, but there are three other falls along a trail that heads west from the parking area. They are all impressive in their own right. Cabin Creek Falls is the first waterfall you’ll “see” along that path. When I first saw the falls, I didn’t think I would be able to get a full view of the falls since they seemed rather hidden. I continued on to view the other two falls further west, and then backtracked.

I pondered climbing up a crazy, slippery slope, but with further exploration, I discovered that there was a way to get to the falls without hurting myself! You’ll have to explore a little bit, but you’ll soon realize that there is a way to get a fuller view of the falls. If you can figure that out, you’ll be greatly rewarded. The full view of the falls is spectacular, and you’re surrounding by these cliffs that essentially hide you from the view of others. It was extremely peaceful and hidden, and the spray from the falls was very refreshing.

Directions:

  1. From I-84, heading EAST, exit at the sign for Starvation Creek State Park. It’s 15 miles from the more commonly known falls west of this park.
  2. As you pull off, the parking area for the park is directly in front of you. There are a number of spaces, but they do fill up quickly.
  3. From the parking area, head west along the trail that follows I-84. You’ll actually be pretty close to I-84 at points. The first waterfall you’ll encounter heading west is Cabin Creek Falls.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy, to get the full view)
Height: 220′
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Cabin Creek Falls?