The Columbia River Gorge between Oregon and Washington is known as the gateway to outdoor adventures, and one of the area’s best features is its high concentration of waterfalls.
While most are on the south side of the river, the Washington state waterfalls are just as impressive, with some plummeting through thick forests and over basalt cliffs more than 100 feet tall.
Easily accessible and incredibly gorgeous, visiting these remarkable falls is one of the best things to do in the Gorge. Here are seven of the best waterfalls in Washington that are well worth the trip.
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Lower Lewis River Falls
When it comes to Washington falls, Lower Lewis River Falls sets the bar in a big way; in fact, this special spot ranks as one of the top attractions in the entire Columbia Gorge.
Found deep in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest northwest of Trout Lake, this part of the Lewis River features a magnificent 200-foot wide set of falls that are 43 feet high, and pool into glistening natural swimming holes.
Beat the heat by going for a dip, or enjoy the spectacular views from one of the many lookout points including a few near the parking lot which look down at the cascade. As the shoreline around it is rocky, it’s a good idea to bring beach chairs if you plan on spending the afternoon here.
It’s important to note that permits are required during the busy summer season between June and September, otherwise you’ll likely be turned around at the entrance. Click here for more information and requirements.
Spirit Falls WA
Heart-pumping rock scrambles, a thundering waterfall and brilliant turquoise water are among the highlights of hiking to Spirit Falls.
Found near Underwood and Cook, this is one of the prettiest Columbia Gorge waterfalls thanks to the power of the water that cascades off the cliffside, then flows down into the Little White Salmon River.
The trail is a short out-and-back that only takes 15-20 minutes each way, but prepare for a grind since the mile-long trail is rated as challenging due to steep terrain and the rocky, uneven pathway. Once you make it, enjoy the views of the thundering falls, roaring water, and keep an eye out for kayakers playing below.
There are two ways to see Husum Falls near BZ Corner: peer out at it from the nearby bridge, or go whitewater rafting right over it!
The falls are in the White Salmon River, which is framed by soaring cliffs and gem-toned glacial water that flows down from Mt. Adams. The stunning scenery and Class III-IV rapids make this one of the best things to do in White Salmon, and Husum Falls just so happens to be the tallest commercially rafted waterfall route in the country.
Rafting trips can be booked through local outfitters including Zoller’s, River Drifters or Wet Planet, and trips typically include a few hours of tackling Class III-IV rapids rapids and cliff-jumping before reaching the falls.
While navigating the 12-foot drop that ends up in a boulder garden and is guaranteed to submerge you is completely optional, it’s likely to be the highlight of your trip.
Hardy Falls on Hamilton Mountain
For a one-stop shop of the best features of the Columbia River Gorge, head to Hardy Falls in Beacon Rock State Park.
The spectacular Hamilton Mountain hike has cascading waterfalls, shaded old growth forests, wildflowers and spectacular panoramic views over the Columbia River. While it’s 3.2 miles up to the summit, there are plenty of natural attractions and lookout points along the way to break up the walk including Hardy Falls.
You’ll hear this waterfall before you see it, and discover water pooling over jagged rocks framed by lush moss and ferns. Steps veering off the pathway lead to a great lookout point.
The next set of falls is even more dramatic, and wooden bridges lead to Rodney Falls and Pool of the Winds. Scamper up to the left and take the steps to the upper falls, or stick to the main trail for gorgeous photo-ops.
Hikers interested in continuing up to the top of the Hamilton Mountain trailhead will continue up a series of steep switchbacks with peek-a-boo views of the Columbia River Gorge, before arriving at an exposed cliff area with a dramatic crevasse overlooking the Cascade peaks. From there, it’s a short walk to a vantage point with panoramic views of the river, Bonneville Dam, Table Mountain and Beacon Rock.
Panther Creek Falls
An awe-inspiring, 130-foot tall waterfall rewards visitors who make the short journey down to Panther Creek Falls in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, making it one of the most impressive Washington waterfalls.
With a large observation deck and mile-long, forested pathway leading straight to the base, it’s easily accessible which makes this a fun option for families and can be combined with a visit to nearby Lower Lewis River Falls.
To see the falls, start at the viewpoint near the top which has views of the spot where Panther Creek plunges 100 feet over a rocky cliffside and tranquil pools with fallen logs and mossy rocks. Then, head about 10 minutes down the trail to the bottom of the falls to see the entire waterfall cascading down before dropping another 30 feet as it continues down the forest.
Falls Creek Falls
Falls Creek Falls is one of the highest southern Washington State waterfalls, at a soaring 335-feet. In fact, it’s so tall it’s impossible to see all of the triple-tiered falls from below.
The Falls Creek Falls trail is about a one hour drive northwest of White Salmon, and accessed by an easy 3.4 mile out-and-back trail which is one of the best family-friendly Gorge hikes at only 750 feet in elevation. The hike through a tranquil forest includes crossing a cable suspension bridge that has great views of the rocky gorge below, before arriving at the waterfall.
The short Langfield Falls hike delivers some big views, making this another family-friendly way to explore Columbia Gorge waterfalls.
It only takes a few minutes of walking down a well-marked pathway to get to this towering waterfall, which has a swimming area and fantastic lookout points. Langfield Falls is quite impressive, towering nearly 60 feet high and about 75 wide before pooling into the craggy rocks below.
The trailhead is located about a 25 minute drive northwest of Trout Lake, and nearby attractions include Lower Lewis River Falls, the Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument and Mt Adams.
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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.