Elowah Falls

Columbia River Gorge / John B. Yeon State Park / near Portland / Multnomah County, Oregon, USA

Rating: 3.5     Difficulty: 1
Elowah Falls
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.

Directions: We accessed the car park and trailhead (known as the John B. Yeon Trailhead) from the very east end of the Old Scenic 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.

If you happen to be coming from the west on I-84 or you managed to overshoot the car park and got back onto the I-84 before leaving the highway and returning back the other way, then if I remember correctly, we accessed the car park and trailhead from the Warrendale Exit off the I-84.

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Direct view of Elowah Falls
The trailhead parking almost besides I-84The trailhead parking almost besides I-84

Julie on the trail amongst tall trees on the ascentJulie on the trail amongst tall trees on the ascent

Julie descending towards the fallsJulie descending towards the falls

Approaching Elowah Falls as we were passing between bare mossy trees flanking the trailApproaching Elowah Falls as we were passing between bare mossy trees flanking the trail

Elowah Falls and the footbridge crossing its creekThe waterfall and the footbridge crossing its creek

Julie getting sprayed as she crossed the bridge before Elowah FallsJulie getting sprayed as she crossed the bridge before the falls

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Bottom up sweep looking directly at the falls

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For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.

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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 …

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