Misty Falls Mountain Scramble

A geologic epoch layer cake

A geologic epoch layer cake

The Columbia Gorge seems to have enough gorgeous waterfalls to satisfy any aquaphile.  I keep finding new ones, and this week was no exception as I visited two new falls for me, including one not too many folks approach: Mist Falls.  It’s not far from the tourist destination of Multnomah Falls, and it’s one of the highest falls in Oregon, yet there is no official trail climbing there.   The trailhead is little more than a short pullout just west of Wahkeena Falls.  A minute up the trail, where it still feels like a trail, one comes to the brink of a creek. Across the creek is a stone chimney, the last remnant of the aged Multnomah Lodge.

From there, what passes for a trail is really more of what I would call a talus thrash.  The slope is steep and the footing is anything but solid.  It would have been a good place for trekking poles, but knowing it was relatively short, I wasn’t worried.  IN fact, in less than ten minutes, I came around a moss encrusted rocky shoulder and got my first glimpse of the falls.  There has been very little precipitation in Western Oregon for a coupe months, so I was hardly surprised to see the falls looking rather thin. The water drops in two stages, the first a long dramatic and misty airborne plunge from a cliff, the second a lower angled cascade in the center of a broad rocky bowl.

I scrabbled up a steep shoulder on the left side of the falls where I was able to look back and see a bit of the Gorge but not as much as I’d hoped.  The depth of the falls was clearly visible here, as were some of the geologic layers, columnar basalt wedged between more chaotic forms of erstwhile lava. The bowl itself was dramatic and looked ripe for exploration with the right equipment.  A dark inset to the right of the falls was particularly intriguing to me, but the rock was steep enough that I didn’t want to venture up there solo without more preparation.  If it’s a cave with Neolithic paintings or pottery fragments, their discovery will have to wait for another day.

Cave trek, anyone?

Cave trek, anyone?

The hike up to Mist Falls was short but challenging, and the little amphitheater was well worth exploring.  This is good adventurous trek to appease adrenaline junkies bored by casual looks at roadside falls.  While not for inexperienced hikers, mountain goats would surely love this hike.

About Josh Baker

"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” ― John Muir

Posted on August 16, 2015, in Adventure, General Hiking, Outdoors, waterfall hikes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Beautiful. I miss the waterfall hikes and will have to try and get out again soon on my healing foot.

  2. Looks like a pretty cool waterfall. I bet the mist felt refreshing!

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