Ruckel and Gorton Creek

Last week I made my annual pilgrimage south to the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood area of Oregon. I don’t need to spend a lot of time describing and praising this area- it has a reputation and a well deserved one for its amazing scenery. Despite holding out a few extra weeks this year, the Dog Mountain Balsamroot blooms just weren’t going to coincide with my visit. Rain and a much delayed spring convinced me to seek other destinations.

This year I finally had nice, cloudy skies (yes- I said it) so I ended up returning to Ruckel Creek. There is a trail that begins alongside the creek but it quickly climbs away from the creek. This leaves any exploration as off trail bushwhacking. It’s actually not that bad so long as you don’t mind getting your feet a little wet (or just wear some 16″ rubber boots). My first visit here was 2 years ago and on that day, I had lot of sunshine. I also did not have much time so my exploration was cut short.

Since this was somewhat of a last minute decision, I neglected to do additional research before heading down. My fuzzy memory was telling me that there should be another waterfall upstream a bit. Technically, I wasn’t wrong but it turns out that it’s much further upstream and I probably was expecting. Nonetheless, I had DRY weather and nice, even lighting so you can’t ask for much more!

Ruckel Creek from the end of the streamside portion of the trail
Ruckel Creek - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Ruckel Creek - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Ruckel Creek - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Ruckel Creek - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Ruckel Creek - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
I pushed upstream further but I saw no signs of a waterfall. I decided to stop at this particular spot where the creek had a nice sweeping arc around a moss covered log jam. It was a bit of a challenge to capture some of these scenes because I felt they needed a higher, downward looking perspective. In order to accomplish this, I had to stand up on logs or the stream bank and set up my tripod with the legs closer together (which isn’t completely stable)…

Ruckel Creek - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Ruckel Creek - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Ruckel Creek - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Once I got back to my truck at the Eagle Creek trailhead, I still had some time left in the late afternoon. I decided to head a little further east to something that’s been on my list for a few years but I’ve never been able to fit it in: Gorton Creek Falls. Starting at the Wyeth Campground, most of the hike to the 80 foot waterfall is pretty straightforward along an old roadbed. The last 100 yards require a lot of climbing up, around, and over boulders and stream bank along the left side of Gorton Creek to reach the base of the falls. I took my climb during the scramble part and did not find it too difficult. I would recommend caution because a slip a few locations would cause an injury of some sort and create a situation where rescue personnel might be needed to carry a person out. In a few minutes, I was at the base of the falls and enjoying the whole scene all to myself.

Small waterfall along Gorton Creek near the end of the official trail
Gorton Creek Falls - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Gorton Creek Falls - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

3 Responses to Ruckel and Gorton Creek
  1. mountainpz

    Beautiful Steve! I particularly like the one with the 3 prominent boulders in the foreground. Well done!

  2. Brandon

    Nice post! Glad I found this blog!

    check out mine? I’m a photographer!

    http://www.electricbrandon.com

    If you want, follow it and I’ll do the same.

  3. Steve Cole

    Thanks for your comments Paul, Brandon! Glad you enjoyed them.