Hike to Mossy Grotto Falls

Oregon Ruckel Trail Parking Area

Added by Chase Dekker

This beautiful, hidden waterfall (20 ft. tall) was discovered in the last decade and is located off of a popular hiking trail in the Columbia River Gorge. 

This newly discovered waterfall has become a favorite for photographers – even so, it has yet to receive an official name. The waterfall is located just 300 feet off the Ruckel Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge, but it can be quite challenging to access. The rewards are well worth the slippery trail, however.

On the trail, you will climb some pretty good grades through beautiful thickets of forests and a few open meadows. After 0.8 miles of hiking, you will arrive at a very large, easily identified clearing, called Indian Pits. Walk about 150 feet through the clearing and you will see trampled ground to your right, heading downhill. Follow this unofficial trail (treaded by outdoor photographers) as you descend rapidly down a steep grade. Be careful, this part of the hike has some slippery, moss-covered rocks!

Once you reach the creek, the falls are just a few hundred feet upstream. If you are hiking at night, be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp, as the light disappears quickly here, and it is much harder crawling back up the hill to the trail than it is coming down!

Getting there:
Head out of Portland on Interstate 84 East and take exit 41. Park at the lot adjacent to the fish hatchery, and follow the paved path along the highway for a half mile to reach the Ruckle Creek Trailhead.

Key coordinates:
Ruckle Creek Trail #405 Trailhead: 45.645264, -121.918747 

Mossy Grotto Falls: 45.6361536,-121.8870842

Pack List

  • Sturdy hiking shoes or boots
  • Hiking poles
  • Headlamp
  • Rain jacket (esp. in wet winter months)
  • Water and snacks
  • Camera and tripod
Read More

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. Learn More



Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



1.6 Miles




Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

12 days ago

Wasn't Able To Find

Wasn't able to find trail head. Not sure if it was apart of the daily $5 fee from the other park. Need clearer instructions.

12 days ago

3 months ago

Misleading Info

the gps coordinates are wrong!

3 months ago

4 months ago

Give me a break

@eric Bennett Are you kidding? "Ferns and foliage" have been destroyed and will never be the same? Do you have any idea how quickly those sorts of things regenerate? Ive bushwhacked a trail in January only come back in May and find it completely overgrown. Littering is a different story. That is straight disrespectful. I appreciate your concern for the outdoors. But let's not get the whole "leave no trace" idea twisted. Saint Helen's completely leveled miles of forest. Look at it now.

4 months ago

5 months ago

Beautiful Falls, Terrible Damage

Hey guys so first off this is way more than 1.6 Miles round trip. It is about 3 each way depending on where you come from and takes a bit of bushwhacking to get to. Anyone looking to find it probably will though, although it is a bit confusing and I got lost several times when I went for the first time. However, the reason I am writing this review is more to just make you aware that this beautiful location has been significantly damaged by photographers and hikers. A lot of the foliage and ferns have been destroyed within the last couple of years. If you look at older photos of this place it is a beautiful, lush scene, It is mostly dirt now sadly enough and I don't know if it will ever look the same. If you come here, please respect it, mind where you step, and LEAVE NO TRACE.

5 months ago

8 months ago

Wasn't Able To Find

The directions are really hard to follow, but I did find the right trail and then ended up going down the hill, but couldn't find the falls at the bottom. TONS of downed trees made it really hard to walk. Wouldn't recommend unless you are REALLY looking for a crazy adventure.

8 months ago

Added by Chase Dekker

Wildlife and nature photographer from Monterey, California.

More Adventures Nearby

Hike the Tumalo Creek Loop

Oregon / Tumalo Falls

This Loop begins at the Tumalo Falls View Point; however, the trail continues for another 3 miles.

Sara Welge
7 Saves

Hike Mt. Bachelor Sunrise to Summit

Oregon / Sunrise Lodge Trailhead

The Sunrise to Summit Trail on Mt. Bachelor is the easiest and most straightforward way for peakbaggers to reach the summit of one of Central Oregon’s classic volcano climbs.

Rachel Davidson
15 Saves

Hike the Olallie Lake North Basin Loop

Oregon / Lower Lake Trailhead

Begin at the Lower Lake Campground and take the Lower Lake trailhead. The best direction to hike is counter clockwise, however you can do either.

Isaac Desautels
5 Saves