Explore The Trail Less Traveled: 7 Under The Radar Waterfalls In The Columbia River Gorge


Austin Jackson

Find open trails and raging cascades in the PNW's waterfall mecca.

The Columbia River Gorge is home to hundreds, if not thousands, of waterfalls and is often the destination of choice for adventurers in the Portland, Oregon area. We all know about Multnomah Falls and the full overflow parking on Saturdays throughout the summer. On the other hand, these hidden gems are excellent choices for a day spent exploring the Gorge because much fewer people know about them in comparison to some of the other more popular falls. Ranging from a quarter mile to six miles in hiking distance, these adventures are the best under-the-radar waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge:

1. Hike To Panther Creek Falls

Photo: Austin Jackson

At less than a quarter mile walk from the parking lot, this waterfall is extremely easy to get to and is one of the most unique in the Columbia River Gorge. Since it is one of the hidden gems in the Gorge, you can expect to see less people than you would at any other hike. Learn more.

2. Hike to Spirit Falls

Photo: Austin Jackson

This short hike is steep but the waterfall is extremely rewarding at the end. Come on a warm summer day and expect to see people going off of the falls in a kayak. Plan on being among a few other people, but still not near as many as other more well known hikes around the area. Learn more.

3. Scramble to Steep Creek Falls

Photo: Austin Jackson

Also a falls close to the parking area, Steep Creek lies right off of the main road. Don’t worry though, the road is an old logging road and is extremely secluded in the forest. Similar to Panther Creek Falls, expect to see very few people on your adventure. Learn more.

4. Hike to Upper Bridal Veil Falls

Photo: Austin Jackson

This is another falls that is not as well known about due to the much easier to reach falls just downstream. This hike is not for the rookie adventurer as you end up walking/sliding down the hillside to the creek and falls at the bottom. This is a great place to go on a warm Saturday if you’d like to avoid the large crowds that the Gorge normally attracts. Learn more.

5. Hike to Wahclella Falls

Photo: Austin Jackson

Never too steep, and not too long, this hike is pet and family friendly. The falls at the end is extremely photogenic and makes for some great pictures. Although still much less crowded than some falls closer to the road, it can see a decent amount of traffic on a prime summer hiking day so get there early and you could have the place to yourself. Learn more.

6. Hike to Falls Creek Falls

Photo: Austin Jackson

Falls Creek Falls is a great day hike coming in at 6.2 miles. The hike goes through some extremely scenic forest and ends at a huge three tiered waterfall. For an added adventure, you can make your way up the mountain to get photos from the middle or top of the falls. This hike is great for families and dogs as well! Learn more.

7. Photograph Ruckel Creek Falls

Photo: Austin Jackson

Ruckel Creek Falls is extremely easy to get to and never too busy due to the overshadowing of the popular Eagle Creek Trail in the same parking lot. The whole area around this falls is covered in moss and makes for excellent photos. Learn more.

Cover photo: Austin Jackson

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Published: March 30, 2016

Austin JacksonExplorer

Photographer and adventurer living in Portland, Oregon. Contact: austinjamesjackson@hotmail.com

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.

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