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Rodney Falls, A Trail Dudes Hiking Guide
Clean Your Shoes!
It all started in front of a large trailhead sign. We stood there and mapped out our journey, cleaning our shoes on the shoe brush below the sign. Jacque began climbing up ahead of us, and we all crossed the large downed log as it greeted us on our journey.
The foliage on either side was full. We snacked on a few ferns and pulled apart some cattails. TJ pointed out some thimble berries along the way. I tried skipping backwards up the trail, which is not a hiking technique we'd recommend. It did, however, push us forward up the path.
Look Out Below
To the right we saw it; our first landscape view of the Columbia River Gorge. A hill sloped downward to crash into the Columbia River, and we stood above it smiling and taking pictures. Flowers spotted the mountainside as we looked out across the stretch.
Jacque kept us moving as she disappeared into the wilderness, moving ahead on the trail. We tried to catch up, but every so often we found another something to photograph as the sides of the way were covered with new and unique plant life.
One said pointed us to a campground, the other pointed us toward the waterfalls. We snuck up to the sign, tempted by the bench beside it and moved on. A more forested hike continued after the sign as we stepped into a shaded wood. A small rock jutted out from the ground, and TJ stood on its edge, as if he were Muffassah on Pride Rock.
Another turn and a few more steps allowed us to hear the water nearby. I hurried past the pack through the trees and dirt. However, the trail did not offer up her waterfalls yet. There was just a stream, and a bridge, which was still pretty cool. It also gave us a perfect opportunity for a TrailDudes TrailNuts break just before another split path.
"Hardy Falls Viewpoint," the sign read, pointing to the right. That was it, our first chance to see a waterfall on this hike. The sign gave orders, and we obliged, walking downward to the viewpoint below. Off in the distance, we saw it. A waterfall spouting over a rock through the green.
Ignoring the wooden fencing around the viewpoint, we slipped down to get a closer look. The three of us inched downward until we reached the river. TJ and I had to get even closer. There's something about standing above the cliff of a waterfall that makes you feel alive. We did our best to reach the precipice, each following the river on opposite sides. TJ waved at me as we looked at each other across the cliff and stared down to the ground below. Light reflected off the mist from the fall and cotton blossom joined in the air creating a sort of snow-flake effect.
TJ and Jacque must've ascended back up to the trail at this point, because they were nowhere to be found. I therefore took it upon myself to see how far I could walk up the river without getting wet. Small falls and pools were numerous as I moved past them, closing in on Rodney Falls. The rocks scattered throughout the river were enough to put me just below the second drop prior to reaching Rodney Falls.
Then, it hit me, they might've been waiting for me. I hurried back down the trail to catch my TrailBuds. There was a crossing there, one point where the rocks in the river didn't quite give me enough space to cross without leaning on a fallen log. After nearly slipping into the river, I climbed back up to the trail. TJ and Jacque were wating for me on the next bridge to the left of the viewpoint sign.
A hop, skip and a jump got us to Rodney Falls. It was hidden behind a tall rock, and divided into two parts; one above the viewing platform (where we stood) and one below. I climbed beneath the barrier again to stand above the lower section of the fall, looking down and back up to top. The rock moved out from the trail and past the edge of the fall just enough to stare at the face of both portions of Rodney Falls.
The rock to the side of the upper portion of the fall stared at TJ and I, beckoning us to climb it. As I struggled to get the slick off my shoes, TJ scaled the boulder as if it were a small box on a gym floor he just had to step on. From watching his steps, I was able to easily trace a path up the rock with my now un-slick shoes. A rainbow appeared as we viewed the fall from the boulder beside it. The water crested over the cliff above us and below us creating a tall, magnificent waterfall.
Monitoring Around a Bridge
A descent more difficult than the climb dropped us back to the trail. We followed it down to another bridge, watching the fall from it's veiwpoint. Walking beneath it, we photographed the scene in its entirety, and hopped around the pools created to witness the many perspectives available. We spoke with an Oregon couple who were impressed with the fall saying, "this is pretty good for Washington."
We laughed with them because we agreed. The falls, however, did not disappoint. We sauntered back down to the trail head, hurrying in part to stay in front of a group of other climbers. Our boots didn't dirty, but we cleaned them on the bristles below the trail sign again just for good measure. It was time to head home.
Rodney Falls Video Hiking Guide
How to get there
On your way up Hamilton Mountain, don't miss Rodney and Hardy Falls!
Full Rodney Falls Photo Album
Click this link to see all of our great pics from the hike to Rodney Falls on our Facebook page.