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Elowah Falls / Upper McCord Creek Falls, A TrailDudes Hiking Guide

Updated on May 11, 2013

Where It All Begins

A few steps into the trail, we are presented with an old water tower, spouting out it's overflow. It looks grand and ancient, and is covered in moss. We watch for a moment before continuing up the trail, following an arrow carved with a pocket knife pointing toward Elowah Falls.

"We're following the real mountain man trail here; the one that's carved with a knife," TJ says as we continue on the path. The trail continues to wind upward as we pass a fork in the road and are led into mossy rock switchbacks.

Quick Facts

Elowah Falls:

Height: ~213 feet

Trail Distance: 1.4 miles (round trip)

Aliases: McCord Creek Falls, Pierce Falls

Fun Facts: 1. Various lava flows created the amphitheater into which Elowah Falls runs.

2. Old pipes found on the hike were used by the Crown Willamate Paper Company mill.

Upper McCord Creek Falls:

Height: ~64 feet

Trail Distance: 2.2 miles (round trip)

Aliases: Upper Elowah Falls

Fun Fact: There was once a third fall to the left of this double feature.

The View Below and Upper Falls

Before long, we see rails up ahead, tracing their way along a solid rock wall. Upon reaching the wall, we note the breathtaking views from the trail that runs beside it. Every few hundred yards there is a new angle of the Columbia River Gorge. We can see the river to the left, and soon Elowah Falls is spouting out just below us in what is perhaps the greatest view of a waterfall we've ever had.

The rock wall disappears into the forest, and we follow it there. A slug makes his way across the damp ground and I eat some ferns. There is a sound in the distance, and it's growing stronger as we inch forward. Persons ahead are stopped and staring, but we have no idea the magnitude of what we are about to behold.

TJ and I reach a point where we can see it, an we stop dead in our tracks. Two pristine waterfalls are moving side by side over a deep green rock face. Something about them is mesmerizing and awe-inspiring. They may be the most beautiful waterfalls of our adventures to date, the Upper McCord Creek Falls. We spend quite some time exploring them, walking out on a log even to get closer to their precipice before making our way back down toward Elowah Falls.

Journey's End, Elowah Falls

Returning to the fork in the road, we take the other direction, leading us to Elowah. The journey is short and the sights are many as we hike downward. First, we hear the river below coursing it's way through the forest. Second, we see a small waterfall, perhaps just a trickle fall, to our right, crossing the trail.

A little further along, Elowah is already peeking through the trees, and we press closer and closer until we can feel it's mist on our faces. The fall hits the ground with such force, that we are still several hundreds of yards away. Again, we stay and watch the powerful fall, trying our best to stay dry.

On the way back down, I creep closer to the river. Looking up a can see Elowah Falls as I stand on rocks in the stream. The white water matches from the fall to the river above to the river where I stand, a perfect flow. By this time, TJ and I are wet and cold and tired from the long day. However, we're still beaming from ear to ear. TrailDudes are happiest in nature, especially when that nature is as stunning as Elowah and Upper McCord Creek Falls.

Hiking the Falls

What's Your Favorite Waterfall Hike?

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Did You Do It Yet?

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An old water tower greets us on our path.Scenic views of the Columbia River Gorge abound on this hike.Another scenic view of the Columbia River Gorge.
An old water tower greets us on our path.
An old water tower greets us on our path.
Scenic views of the Columbia River Gorge abound on this hike.
Scenic views of the Columbia River Gorge abound on this hike.
Another scenic view of the Columbia River Gorge.
Another scenic view of the Columbia River Gorge.
A markerElowah Falls, Or -
Elowah Falls, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon 97014, USA
get directions

Elowah Falls and Upper McCord Creek falls are reached from the same trail head. Both are amazing hikes and highly recommended.


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    • traildudes profile image

      traildudes 4 years ago from Portland, OR

      Thanks Daena. It is one of our favorites, highly recommended.

    • Daena B. profile image

      Daena B. 4 years ago from Wenatchee, WA

      Looks like a very peaceful and enjoyable hike. Again, love all the pictures.