Wahclella Falls (Tanner Creek Falls)

Columbia River Gorge / Bonneville Dam / Multnomah County, Oregon, USA

Rating: 2.5     Difficulty: 2
Wahclella Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Wahclella Falls (also known as Tanner Creek Falls) was one of the relatively lesser known waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. Said to be about 125ft in cumulative height, photos did't quite do this waterfall justice as it seemed to be much bigger and powerful than the photos seemed to suggest.

Its upper tier of this two-tiered waterfall only revealed itself from the narrow slot it resided in only if I gazed upon it from the correct angle (see photo at the top of this page). We can only imagine the turbulence in that narrow slot because all that water blasted through the chute as the lower tier as it plunged into a very misty and turbulent plunge pool. Indeed, this was a waterfall to be experienced, which was something the photos we took couldn't convey.

To get to it, we had to do a roughly 2-mile round trip hike that took us a little over an hour, which included photo stops as well as the hiking itself. The hike was quite muddy in several spots thanks to several days of heavy rains. The trailhead sat outside what I'm calling "waterfalls row" (a stretch of the Old Columbia Gorge Hwy in which there were heaps of waterfalls along the road and further inland; see directions below).

Along the way were a few smaller or thinner waterfalls (each attractive in their own way) on a cliffhugging trail reminiscent of the Eagle Creek trail. One of the falls (known as Munra Falls according to one of our books) actually tumbled right besides a footbridge on the trail before joining up with Tanner Creek.

Over the half-way point of the hike, the trail had split into a loop where an upper trail hugged the cliff on its way towards the falls while offering pretty views of the opening in the gorge below. The lower trail (which we thought was the more scenic of the two) allowed us to walk closer to creek level as well as through an interesting alcove as we got near the bridge before the falls itself.

Given the amount of moisture resulting from the bad weather earlier in the week, we saw quite a few other waterfalls along this trail. We weren't sure if they were legitimate ones or merely ephemeral ones that became significant because of the saturation of water. Either way, this was a pleasant hike and certainly much quieter than other waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge given its relatively obscure location.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Right at the plunge pool of Wahclella FallsRight at the plunge pool of Wahclella Falls
When we noticed that the rain had died down finally as we got this view of the Columbia River at Cascade Locks, we felt confident enough to do the hike to Wahclella Falls in the late afternoonWhen we noticed that the rain had died down finally as we got this view of the Columbia River at Cascade Locks, we felt confident enough to do the hike to Wahclella Falls in the late afternoon
Cascade Locks was actually a convenient place to cross the Columbia River and into Washington State, and eventually up to Mt St Helens a couple of hours drive laterCascade Locks was actually a convenient place to cross the Columbia River and into Washington State, and eventually up to Mt St Helens a couple of hours drive later
Julie on the Tanner Creek Trail which was flat and following the creek when we were just starting outJulie on the Tanner Creek Trail which was flat and following the creek when we were just starting out

Tanner Creek flanked by moss-covered rocks attesting to the amount of moisture this place generally getsTanner Creek flanked by moss-covered rocks attesting to the amount of moisture this place generally gets

Julie checking out Munra Falls sliding right besides the bridge on Tanner Creek TrailJulie checking out Munra Falls sliding right besides the bridge on Tanner Creek Trail

Looking back at the bridge we just crossed before Munra FallsLooking back at the bridge we just crossed before Munra Falls

The Tanner Creek TrailThe Tanner Creek Trail with some thin waterfall up ahead

One of the smaller falls alongside the trailOne of the smaller falls alongside the trail

The muddy fork in the trailThe muddy fork in the trail. We first took the upper half of the loop. The right fork went down the bottom half of the loop.

Directly in front of Wahclella FallsDirectly in front of Wahclella Falls

Up close to that attractive falls near Wahclella FallsUp close to that attractive smaller falls near the Wahclella Falls

While walking the lower loop on the way back to the car park, we noticed this interesting overhang next to Tanner CreekWhile walking the lower loop on the way back to the car park, we noticed this interesting overhang next to Tanner Creek

Full context of Wahclella Falls and the footbridge fronting itFull context of Wahclella Falls and the footbridge fronting it

Looking back at the glorious scene on the way to the fallsLooking back at the glorious scene on the way back to the falls

Now a more contextual look at Julie passing before Munra Falls on the way back to the car parkNow a more contextual look at Julie passing before Munra Falls on the way back to the car park


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Bottom up sweep from the footbridge


Bottom up view of an attractive mossy and wispy waterfall nearby Wahclella Falls


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

To reach the trailhead, look for the Bonneville Dam exit off the I-84, which is exit 40 as you head east on the I-84 freeway. This exit was 38 miles (about 45 minutes drive) east of Portland. Once at the exit, we headed south and followed the signs pointing us past some fair-sized parking area to another parking lot, which was the trailhead for Wahclella Falls.

Coming from the other direction, we would take the Bonneville State Park exit (just 4 miles west of Cascade Locks along the I-84) before turning left and following the directions as above to the trailhead parking.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

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




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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RELATED PAGES



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