Post Summary: Falls Creek Falls Trail in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Looking for your next favorite hiking trail in Washington? We think Falls Creek Falls is going to be a great contender!
Falls Creek Falls has a little bit of everything – bridges, river access, old-growth forest, and one of the most beautiful waterfalls we’ve seen in the entire state!
In this post, we’re sharing everything we know about this easy Washington trail, and why it should be next on your list of things to do in the Pacific Northwest!
Hiking Falls Creek Falls Trail In Washington State (Trail Route, Tips, and Best Times To Visit!)
What’s So Special About Falls Creek Falls in Washington?
Falls Creek Falls Trail is located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, which is in the Columbia River Gorge area on the Washington side. A lot of people think the Columbia River Gorge is just in Oregon, but some of the most beautiful places in Washington can be found in their own Columbia River Gorge Area, Falls Creek Falls included!
We think this place is awesome because it’s a fairly easy hike with SUCH a huge reward at the end! This three-tiered waterfall drops a total of 335 feet, but the most dramatic plunge is the last one, dropping an impressive 135 feet into Falls Creek and ultimately towards the Columbia River.
It’s also one of the most powerful waterfalls in Washington, dropping a spectacular 119 cubic feet per second!
- Trail Distance: 5 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet
- Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
- Best Time To Visit: Spring or Early Summer (when the waterfall is the most full)
- Dog-Friendly? Yes! But on-leash only.
Getting To The Trailhead
Getting to the Falls Creek Falls Trailhead isn’t difficult, though it IS confusing if you don’t follow the correct roads! Here are the trailhead coordinates to get started: 45.90583, -121.93979
This is also one of the best Portland day trips you can take in the area. It feels far enough away from the city to have a fun adventure, but close enough to sleep in your own bed at the end of the day!
And The Directions to Falls Creek Falls in Washington:
- Coming from I-84 in Oregon, Take Exit #44 to the Cascade Locks.
- Cross the Bridge of the Gods ($2 toll each way).
- Turn right onto WA Hwy 14.
- After 5.5 miles, turn left at Wind River Highway (Hwy 30).
- Drive about 15 miles on Hwy 30. Variable speed limits are on this road.
- After milepost 14, continue right on Wind River Rd for less than a mile; look out for the sign for Falls Creek trail/Road 3062.
- Turn right on this gravel road and continue to drive two miles. This will take you to a dead-end, which is the trailhead!
Falls Creek Falls Trail Parking Lot
Once you reach the Falls Creek Falls trailhead, the parking lot is really big. You likely won’t have trouble finding a spot to park, that is unless a small village decides to all go hiking at the same time (and then you’ll probably want to come back for another day!).
Joking aside, parking is easy, and there are pit toilets at the trail’s entrance. The last time we hiked this trail, the hiking information sign stated that this was a FEE-FREE area (aka, you didn’t need one of these Pacific Northwest forest passes).
*This trail is still open in the winter season, though the gate with access to Forest Road 3062 is CLOSED. You can choose to park off the road at this gate entrance and walk to the trailhead. With the gate closed in the winter, the total hike will increase to 8.6-miles round-trip.
On the Falls Creek Falls Trail In Washington
To begin the trial, you’ll walk along a path under the cover of the Washington Gorge’s beautiful old-growth forest. It’s a beautiful hike year-round, but we especially loved seeing the fall colors intermixed with the evergreens on our trip last autumn!
Along the way, you’ll encounter a small suspension bridge over Falls Creek gorge. This bridge is pretty high above Falls Creek, which provides awesome views when you look down!
After crossing the bridge, you’ll wind through the trees next to the river for quite some time. Every so often, you’ll see river access spots, which are perfect for grabbing a quick hiking snack or water break along your way.
Reaching The Falls (Best Time To Visit Falls Creek Falls)
Continue along the gently ascending trail for 0.7 miles to the base of the waterfall. You’ll know you’re close to Falls Creek Falls when you hear the soft rumbling of the falls as you wind along the trail!
Once you arrive at the waterfall, you have two options, stay at the top viewpoint among the large boulders, or scramble down the short but steep path to get a view closer to the base of the falls. Either way, be prepared to get wet because the mist of the falls is quite powerful.
Falls Creek Falls is actually a three-tiered falls, with the lower falls being in full view, and the two upper falls either far above or altogether out of sight. You can access these upper tiers of Falls Creek Falls via some steep side trails, but take caution when venturing out this way. During times of heavy flow, these trails can be incredibly slippery from the mist of the falls, so be careful if you choose to go up this path!
If you’re looking to visit when this Washington waterfall is extra powerful, come in the spring season! During this time, the waterfall will actually add a second parallel drop, with evidence of that on the bare rock face to the left of the main falls.
Other Things To Do In Washington and Oregon Nearby
Not ready to leave the area after your hike? Luckily for you, there is plenty to do in the area! Here are some suggestions to get you started on exploring the Columbia River Gorge area…
Beacon Rock State Park: This Washington state park boasts scenic trails along the northern shore of the Columbia River. Come in the summer months for full access to trails!
Lower Lewis River Falls: This Washington hike is a popular 5.9-mile out and back for its incredible block-style waterfall that spans the whole section of the river. Come for photos and a fun summer Washington swimming hole!
Maryhill Stonehenge: Built-in 1929 as a World War 1 Memorial for the Klickitat County residences, this Stonehenge Replica looks pretty incredible during sunrise!
Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge: Because of the huge range in elevation, Oregon’s side of the Columbia River Gorge boasts towering waterfalls and epic hikes into this dynamic section of the Columbia Gorge. Most popular are Multnomah Falls, Latourell Falls, The Cascade Locks, and Wahclella Falls. Go deeper in Mount Hood and discover the epic Ramona Falls hike too!
Panther Creek Falls: Located in the same general area as Falls Creek Falls Trail, Panther Creek Falls is a 136-foot tall waterfall with an easy trail. Come for spectacular views, and stay for a bit longer at their adjacent campground as well.
Have you ever hiked the Falls Creek Falls Trail in Washington State? What was your experience like? Share your story in the comments below!
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The 10 Best Waterfall Hikes In Washington (coming soon)