Forum Index > Trip Reports > Thanksgiving waterfalls and old-growth forests in OR, Nov 23-26, 2017
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radka
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radka
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PostSat Dec 16, 2017 10:07 pm 
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Thanksgiving forecast showed warming temperatures and significant rain so we were doubtful skiing would be good. We decided to take a short trip to Oregon for hiking waterfalls and old growth forest. Since photographing waterfalls is usually a wet experience, the forecast didn't discourage us.

Thursday, November 23 White River Falls

We spent the first day mostly driving, eventually arriving at White River Falls somewhere around 2pm. White River Falls is south of The Dalles, about and hour from Biggs. We passed Sherars Falls on the way and a number of folks were fishing near them. The state park is gated this time of year (to automobiles), but a short 5-minute walk leads to the overlook of the falls. From here, you can hike another 10 minutes down to the old hydro-electric station for other views of the falls, eventually leaving the paved walkway. The water running over the falls was very brown due to all the recent rain. Other pictures show a much cleaner source.

B&W
B&W

We left the falls about an hour later and headed through Madras, Terrebone, Redmond, and Sisters, on our way to SR 242, where we would spend the night in our car where the road was gated. Thanksgiving dinner was reheated pre-packaged Indian dinner, avocado, cheese, salmon, and pine nuts, in our pot over a Whisperlite International.

Friday Proxy Falls, Lookout Creek Old Growth Forest

From the gate, we had about 2 miles of paved road to walk before reaching the trailhead for Proxy Falls. There is a loop trail here (1-2 miles), and we started on the looker's right part. If you are short for time, the left fork gets you to the falls quicker. There are both an Upper and Lower parts to falls. We went to the Upper falls first. The interesting part with the Upper falls is they drain into an underground spring, so there is no outlet to speak of. Then we moved on to the impressive Lower falls. They were raging. The trail ends at a nice overlook and from there, another steep trail leads to the base of the falls. At the base of the falls, it was like being in a hurricane. As such, we weren't able to stay long to photograph because we were getting completely soaked from the spray of the falls.
After getting back to our car, we drove in to the ranger station at McKenzie bridge. We learned FR19 that connects SR126 and SR58 was open and checked out the companion CD to go along with the drive.

Upper Proxy Falls
Upper Proxy Falls
Upper Proxy Falls
Upper Proxy Falls
Lower Proxy Falls (aka the Hurricane)
Lower Proxy Falls (aka the Hurricane)
Lower Proxy Falls
Lower Proxy Falls
in B&W
in B&W

Then we headed to the Blue River trail systems west of the ranger station for the Lookout Creek Old Growth forest hike (6-7 mile loop). A lot of research is done on this trail and dogs are not permitted on it. About 2 miles in to the hike, the log bridge has collapsed at a fast running creek and semi-deep gully. Based on trail descriptions, I believe most people turn around here. We butt scooched the fallen log and continued on to the other trailhead for this hike, then walked the road back our car, arriving by headlamp. The hike was very scenic and peaceful. This day ended up being the driest and we found a nice cozy spot along the road to car camp for the night.

say greeeen!
say greeeen!
hanging moss
hanging moss
big friend
big friend
wild rhodies
wild rhodies
forest therapy
forest therapy
staring into a green wall
staring into a green wall
near upper TH
near upper TH
the biggest tree, right by the creek
the biggest tree, right by the creek

Saturday Delta Campground Old Growth Forest, Sahalie Falls, Koosah Falls, McKenzie River, Scenic Drive to Oakridge

Given the short days and quiet nights, we were sleeping about 10-11 hours in our car, and joked that when we get home maybe we should keep sleeping there. After breakfast, we drove to another old growth forest loop hike at the end of the gated Delta Campground (closed for winter). From the gate, it's about 10-minutes to the loop. For a 1-mile loop, it's spectacular. The trees along this loop are majestic. It's a real treat having such easy access to Old Growth.

it's dripping green
it's dripping green
#tinychris in wonderland
#tinychris in wonderland
interesting texture
interesting texture

After Delta Campground, we drove back east on SR126 to Sahalie Falls. The falls are very close to the parking area. There is also a loop trail here. We continued hiking south to Koosah Falls along the McKenzie River, then further to the dam, where we crossed the bridge, then hiked north along the west side of the river. The trail was very quiet here. It seems most people don't go much further past the falls. This side of the trail gets to some exciting views of Sahalie Falls. Eventually we reached another bridge, and crossed back over McKenzie River, and had a 5-minute walk back to our car, which we arrived at much later than we anticipated.

McKenzie River
McKenzie River
McKenzie River
McKenzie River
Koosah Falls
Koosah Falls
Koosah Falls
Koosah Falls
in B&W
in B&W
McKenzie River
McKenzie River
Koosah Falls
Koosah Falls
Sahalie Falls
Sahalie Falls

Then we drove FR 19 to Oakridge, making a couple stops along the way while listening to the companion CD. I wasn't surprised about the contents of the CD history is basically loggers, miners, railway, some weather disasters, dam construction, etc. Very little information about Native Americans and the wilderness. FR 19 is fully paved, and we returned the CD to the ranger station in Westfir. Then we drove to Oakridge for dinner and lodging, and had the worst night of sleep on the trip in a motel bed.

scenic drive
scenic drive

Sunday Salt Creek Falls, Diamond Creek Falls

Salt Creek Falls is about a half-hour east from Oakridge. It is also gated in winter and becomes a sno-park. From the gate, the falls overlook is about a 10-15 minute walk. Wow, these falls are amazing! They are the 2nd tallest in Oregon. We spent some time walking the trail for different views and angles of the falls. It was pouring rain and we were glad we had our umbrellas. After Salt Creek Falls, we hiked a 3-4 mile loop that passes Diamond Creek Falls. A short trail leads to Lower Diamond Creek Falls, and it's quite eroded. Getting pictures from the lower falls was quite a task, given the pouring rain and raging spray.
There are some other falls along Falls Creek, past the loop connecting Diamond Creek and Salt Creek, but we decided against going to them since the trail was a pool of water for as far as we could see. After arriving back to our car, we started the journey home, deciding to take highway 97 back to I-90 and avoid I-5.

Salt Creek Falls
Salt Creek Falls
in B&W
in B&W
Diamond Creek Falls
Diamond Creek Falls
in pouring rain
in pouring rain

TR: Chris
Photos: Radka

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olderthanIusedtobe
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostSat Dec 16, 2017 10:40 pm 
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Way to get creative.  Nice mixture of east and west side of the crest.  I've been to a few of those, but wasn't familiar w/ others.

Have you hit Silver Falls State Park near Salem?  I still haven't been there, it's on my to do list but hasn't happened yet.
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radka
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radka
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PostSat Dec 16, 2017 10:48 pm 
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Thanks! We visited Silver Falls in 2014 and were hoping to return on this trip but ran out of time. Silver Falls are phenomenal! Here are some pics from 3 years ago (another Thanksgiving in OR): https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Travels/Oregon-2014-Painted-Hills-Bend-S/i-rTGx2XX/A

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olderthanIusedtobe
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostSat Dec 16, 2017 11:15 pm 
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Nice.  Gives me more reason to want to visit there.

I grew up in White Salmon, WA and my parents are still there.  I cut my teeth hiking in The Gorge, still love hiking around there.  I noticed some Multnomah Falls and Elowah and/or McCord Creek shots in there w/ Silver Falls.  I was a bit bummed everything on the Oregon side is shut down, so I had to explore on the Washington side around Carson this Thanksgiving.
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radka
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radka
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PostSat Dec 16, 2017 11:37 pm 
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That's a beautiful area. We drove through White Salmon earlier this year on our way to Mt. Adams. On that Thanksgiving trip 3 years ago, we started at Painted Hills, then did some hiking around Bend (including caves), went to Silver Falls, and finished at Columbia River Gorge.

There are some awesome waterfalls on WA side. Panther Falls are pretty: https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/HikesandScrambles/Mossy-Grotto-Panther-Falls-Nov-6/i-sCr4b8J/A

Also Puff Falls and Lower Lewis Falls are great.

This map may be handy: https://www.waterfallsnorthwest.com/index.php/Washington/map

For trip planning purposes, we used Greg Vaughn's Photographing Oregon.

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Brushbuffalo
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Brushbuffalo
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PostSun Dec 17, 2017 7:54 am 
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Gorgeous images, made all the more magical with the intense greens.
Here is a short video of the unique experience of running some of the Gorge trails during  the spring  snowmelt flush. In one case runners even go behind a thundering waterfall...Ponytail Falls! http://projecttalaria.com/2014/08/gorge-waterfalls-50100k-film/
Unfortunately, due to the horrible 2017 Eagle Creek wildfire, most of those trails are closed now and for the foreseeable future.  bawl.gif

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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zephyr
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zephyr
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PostSun Dec 17, 2017 9:23 am 
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radka wrote:

Great report.  This image is spectacular.  What a sight that must have been.   ~z
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Bootpathguy
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Bootpathguy
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PostSun Dec 17, 2017 9:48 am 
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radka wrote:

Wow! That upper portion of this waterfall is absolutely beautiful. I really like the chocolate milk color and frosty white contrast. The long exposure really makes these contrasting colors standout.

up.gif  up.gif  up.gif

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radka
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radka
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PostSun Dec 17, 2017 11:27 am 
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Thank you all for your kind feedback! The nice thing about waterfalls is that bad weather makes them look more photogenic  biggrin.gif . It's not very interesting to photograph waterfalls on a sunny day.

Brushbuffalo - it's like that in Silver Falls State Park where you can walk (run) behind a waterfall. It's quite the experience. The video is very well done. You can see all these waterfalls in a few hours if you're running as opposed to several days for the rest of walking humanity  dizzy.gif

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Brushbuffalo
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Brushbuffalo
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PostSun Dec 17, 2017 4:49 pm 
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radka wrote:
The video is very well done.

Radka, honestly I'm not trying to divert attention from your always-superb photos, but since you liked the video, I've attached another from the same year (2014). It also focuses on the Gorge Waterfalls 50 km race but I believe has better views of the waterfalls and dripping greenery...and a better soundtrack IMO. 🎶
Here's the link:  https://youtu.be/vDQsfYSJsnI ( allow about 10 minutes if you watch in entirety)

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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ChinookPass
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PostSun Dec 17, 2017 7:29 pm 
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Beautiful! Thanks for posting.
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Thanksgiving waterfalls and old-growth forests in OR, Nov 23-26, 2017
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