I’ve just returned from my annual spring trip south to the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood area. This year, I broke a little bit with my historical tradition and decided to visit mostly new locations. One such new spot was the Wind River drainage north of Carson on the Washington side of the Gorge. I had a number of locations in mind and ended up visiting Panther Creek Falls, Puff Falls, and Dry Creek Falls. Instead of my typical narrative, I’m going to provide some overall comments and remarks about each location-
Dry Creek Falls (Columbia River Gorge)
On my way to the Wind River drainage, I stopped by this waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon side. If you read any of the descriptions for this hike, it sounds a bit confusing (it was to me). Rest assured, it does follow the Pacific Crest Trail so it’s actually not bad at all. The trail head starts right next to I-84 but the sounds of the freeway don’t last too long. As with most Gorge hikes, the forest here is quite diverse and even has some good sized trees.
Panther Creek Falls
Photos don’t do this waterfall justice. You have to stand in front of it! The Forest Service has built an observation platform for the waterfall and it’s pretty good. To get a lower perspective like these photos, you have put yourself at some degree of risk and down climb a 15′ rock wall. You must be absolutely comfortable with class 3 / 4 scrambling if you want to successfully make it down this rock wall. In general, I would not recommend doing it so just sit back and enjoy my photos!
Fall Creek Falls
What a great place! A moderate hike along a beautiful creek and aesthetic forest leads you to this huge waterfall. Down spray was an issue due to the peak-ish flows but I just took several photos to ensure a good shot. The forest holds a LOT of vine maple (as does the Wind River drainage in general) so this may have some tremendous fall color. I only wish there were a few more spots to enjoy the creek itself.
Puff Falls / Dry Creek Falls
An off trail hike quite literally up the creek itself to an unusually large waterfall. A loose trail exists along the right bank (east bank of the creek) for much of the way but you will have to get your feet wet a couple of times. Again, flows were pretty good but my 16″ rubber boots were sufficient. Down spray at the falls is a big problem because good compositions are confined to the areas that receive the most spray.