Elowah Falls was a very nice 289ft waterfall situated in John B. Yeon State Park towards the eastern end of what we perceived to be the "waterfalls area" along the historical highway detour of the Columbia River Gorge. This waterfall reminded me very much of Latourell Falls since they were both tall slender with a basalt cliff supporting them. Perhaps there were slight variations in their shape and dimensions, but I could totally see how I might get the two confused if I was presented a photo of one or the other.
Unlike many of the other major waterfalls in the Gorge, we had to do a little huffing and puffing to get close to this one despite its proximity to the highway. It might have been for this reason that we didn't encounter the crowds that other Columbia River Gorge waterfalls that were closer to the road might have had. I recalled one day that while driving along the I-84, we saw this waterfall from the freeway!
It wasn't too bad of a walk to access Elowah Falls as it was about a mile each way (2 miles round trip). The first half-mile was all climbing as we rose above the level of the noisy I-84. There was a fork in the trail leading to Upper McCord Creek Falls (which we didn't do). Shortly beyond the fork, the trail crested as it turned into Elowah Canyon where it descended another half-mile over a few switchbacks to the base of the falls.
There was a bridge crossing the creek near the waterfall's base, but when we were there, it was tremendously misty, windy, and slippery. On the other side of the bridge, the views weren't as impressive, but we did get a more frontal view of the falls.
Although we hadn't experienced this ourselves, we had seen in the literature that the proximity of the trailhead to the I-84 made the car park an easy target for break-ins. Since hiking was required to see this waterfall, this was definitely something we had to be cognizant of. So we made sure not to leave anything valuable in the car. We managed to do that by making sure that we didn't do this hike on a day we were in transit from one accommodation to the next. We only did it when we were already checked into our accommodation so we were able to leave our stuff in our room.
We accessed the car park and trailhead (known as the John B. Yeon Trailhead) from the very east end of the Historic Columbia River Highway just before the road merges back onto the I-84 east. If you're headed east on the Historic Columbia River Highway (or the Old Scenic Highway), the trailhead parking was east of both Multnomah Falls and Horsetail Falls.
We'd recommend going east on the I-84 from Portland, then driving for 26 miles to the Bridal Veil exit. Once off the exit, we'd continue driving east along the Historic Columbia River Highway and Northeast Frontage Road (avoiding getting back on the freeway the whole way) for the next 9 miles or so. The trailhead parking is on the right just before the road went onto the on-ramp to go back onto the I-84 east.
If you happen to be coming from the west on I-84 (say if you're coming from Cascade Locks) or you managed to overshoot the John B. Yeon car park and had to go back west on the I-84, then if I remember correctly, we accessed the car park and trailhead from the Warrendale Exit off the I-84 before making a pair of left turns to get back onto the Northeast Frontage Road.
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What Other Visitors Have Said
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Gorgeous (Elowah Falls) One of the most rewarding shorter/easier hikes that I've done. It's definitely worth the very short patches of barely steep inclines. There is a path less …