The stunning Dry Creek Falls hike near Cascade Locks, Oregon
A towering 74 foot waterfall is the reward at the end of the Dry Creek Falls hike, which is a 4.4 mile out-and-back trail in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge.
With only an 885 foot elevation gain it’s good for beginners and kids, and shaded most of the way which is perfect for hot summer days–especially for those wanting to plunge in the falls at the end.
How to get to the Dry Creek Falls trailhead
The Dry Creek Falls trailhead is accessed from the town of Cascade Locks, which is about an hour east of Portland, 20 minutes from Hood River, and across the water from Stevenson, Washington.
Starting at the Bridge of the Gods trailhead or the PCT Harvey Road Trailhead, it takes about an hour to walk to the falls.
Important note: Instead of navigating to the actual trailhead, your GPS may lead you to the top of Dry Creek Road, which is a forestry road that eventually leads to a dead end marked with a small gate and operations building. While this isn’t the Dry Creek Falls hike, it’s still possible to access the waterfall from here since it eventually links up with the trail and also saves about one hour of walking.
The Dry Creek Falls trail
Starting at the Bridge of the Gods trailhead, you’ll head up the famous Pacific Crest Trail and through a forest of Douglas fir and maples, which create beautiful fall foliage in autumn. The path eventually leads to a powerline access road before heading back under the tree canopy and traversing a steep slope, then heads down to Dry Creek.
The trail is marked with vibrant, lush ferns, large lava rocks and the water trickling past, and eventually nears a wooden footbridge. Follow the signs that lead to the falls, and from there it’s only another few minutes until you reach Dry Creek Falls.
The waterfall is surrounded by a natural amphitheatre, and is accessible year-round though it’s best seen during spring when snow runoff creates an impressive spray. There’s also an old water works you can walk over to cross the bank, and pick your way over the surrounding boulders to stand right beside the plunge pool.
With very few crowds, a relatively easy trail and the spectacular payoff, the Dry Creek Falls hike is a great day trip option in the Columbia River Gorge.
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Tamara Elliott is the travel editor and founder of The Gorge Guide, which highlights the best experiences in the Columbia River Gorge. She’s an award-winning writer based in Hood River, Oregon, who particularly loves the area wineries and waterfall hikes. Tamara is also the founder of Globe Guide, which offers savvy tips for exploring destinations around the world.