Wahclella Falls (Tanner Creek Falls)

Columbia River Gorge / Bonneville Dam, Oregon, USA

About Wahclella Falls (Tanner Creek Falls)


Hiking Distance: 2 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 1-1.5 hours

Date first visited: 2009-03-29
Date last visited: 2009-03-29

Waterfall Latitude: 45.61798
Waterfall Longitude: -121.95135

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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.

Columbia_River_Gorge_191_03292009 - Wahclella Falls or Tanner Creek Falls
Wahclella Falls or Tanner Creek Falls

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 above).

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.

Hiking to Wahclella Falls

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.

Columbia_River_Gorge_160_03292009 - The Wahclella Falls Trail hugged some ledges and went by some ephemeral waterfalls, which reminded me of parts of the Eagle Creek Trail
The Wahclella Falls Trail hugged some ledges and went by some ephemeral waterfalls, which reminded me of parts of the Eagle Creek Trail

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 River Highway 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.

Columbia_River_Gorge_155_03292009 - Julie walking before the Munra Falls on the way to the Wahclella Falls
Julie walking before the Munra Falls on the way to the Wahclella Falls

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 Wahclella Falls itself.

Given the amount of moisture resulting from the bad weather earlier in the week of our visit, 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.

Columbia_River_Gorge_178_03292009 - View of Wahclella Falls from the footbridge nearest its plunge pool
View of Wahclella Falls from the footbridge nearest its plunge pool

Either way, this was a pleasant hike and certainly much quieter than other waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge given its relatively obscure location.

Authorities

Wahclella Falls resides in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Columbia_River_Gorge_152_03292009 - Julie on the Tanner Creek Trail which was flat and following the creek when we were just starting out
Columbia_River_Gorge_153_03292009 - Tanner Creek flanked by moss-covered rocks attesting to the amount of moisture this place generally gets
Columbia_River_Gorge_156_03292009 - Looking back at the bridge we just crossed before Munra Falls
Columbia_River_Gorge_162_03292009 - One of the smaller waterfalls alongside the trail to Wahclella Falls
Columbia_River_Gorge_165_03292009 - The muddy fork in the trail where we could decide do the latter half of the Wahclella Falls hike as a loop.  We first took the upper half of the loop on the left, but the right fork went down to the bottom half of the loop
Columbia_River_Gorge_175_03292009 - Directly in front of Wahclella Falls
Columbia_River_Gorge_184_03292009 - Up close to that attractive smaller falls we saw earlier in the hike near Wahclella Falls
Columbia_River_Gorge_195_03292009 - Looking back at the context of the Wahclella Falls' two main drops in good flow during our late March 2009 visit
Columbia_River_Gorge_197_03292009 - While walking the lower loop on the way back to the car park, we noticed this interesting overhang next to Tanner Creek
Wahclella_Falls_002_jx_03292009 - As we started to walk back on the other half of the lower loop of the Wahclella Falls Trail, we got this nice contextual look at the ephemeral waterfall that we saw earlier in the hike
Columbia_River_Gorge_200_03292009 - Looking up at a mossy wall where the bottom of the ephemeral waterfall seeped into to provide the conditions for the mat of green
Columbia_River_Gorge_202_03292009 - Full context of Wahclella Falls and the footbridge fronting it as we continued to walk further away along the lower part of the loop
Columbia_River_Gorge_209_03292009 - Looking back at the glorious scene on the return hike along the lower part of the Wahclella Falls loop
Columbia_River_Gorge_212_03292009 - Julie walking back on the Wahclella Falls Trail, which gives you an idea of the type of scenery we walked to before reaching the loop part in the latter half of the hike
Columbia_River_Gorge_214_03292009 - Now a more contextual look at Julie passing before Munra Falls on the way back to the car park

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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.

Bottom up sweep from the footbridge


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

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Tagged with: wahclella, tanner creek, multnomah, columbia river gorge, bonneville, munra falls, east fork falls, oregon, waterfall, pacific northwest



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