Upper McCord Creek Falls — Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

We were on the Northern California and Oregon Coast for the past 2 weeks. It had been either rainy or windy, or both most of the time and didn’t appear to want to let up. Although we enjoyed being there and love feasting on seafoods, it’s time to move on. After all our home has wheels.

We have about 2 more weeks to spend before checking into our campground in Cochrane, Alberta (Read about our plan in the Canadian Rockies here). David found us a last minute deal on Alaska cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line from the Port of Seattle. So we traveled from the coast to the eastern side of the Cascade Range in Washington, to escape the rain and to be within striking distance of Seattle.

On our way up to Washington, we stayed for two nights in Memaloose State Park on the Oregon side of Columbia River Gorge. We had one day to visit the gorge area, but didn’t have an early start. So all we did was visiting Bonneville Dam and doing one short hike.

Trail sign at the parking lot. It’s 2.2 miles return to hike to Upper McCord Creek Falls.

The original plan was to hike to Elowah Falls. However, when we arrived at the trailhead, we saw a sign indicating that trail to Elowah Falls is closed due to a landslide. We did hike to the spot where the trail was washed down the side of the mountain to a creek below. It looked like the park crew was in the process of cutting a new trail to rejoin the old trail further down switchbacks. We hiked back to the trail junction and headed toward Upper McCord Creek Falls.

The hike was through a lush forest. Although the area has been wet, the trail wasn’t too muddy.

There were tons of thimbleberry bushes. Unfortunately, they just started to bloom, so no berries for us.

Beautiful ferns were growing happily to this cool and wet climate.

An old metal pipe seen next to the trail

Some obstacles on the trail

Trail to Upper McCord Creek Falls was a relatively easy trail to hike. Despite being wet in part, it had decent traction and wasn’t very muddy. Most of the trail was under tree canopy until we got to the section where the trail was on an open ledge of a cliff face as it entered McCord Creek. This section was a highlight of this hike.

Then the trail was opened up as it clung on the ledge. We could see Columbia River and mountains on the other side.

I was thankful for the railing along this ledge section as the trail went around the cliff and entered McCord Creek. Falling off the trail here would be fatal.

The guard rail along the trail made this section neither scary nor dangerous, as long as you stay on the trail and be mindful of where you are. From here we could see Elowah Falls in the center of a verdant U-shape cliff. The rock face next to the trail was full of mosses, ferns, and plants. I think we must have spent more time looking at the rock wall than the gorge view.

What a great view, both near and far.

The ledge section was full of plants thriving on the rock surface. Here is David admiring the wall garden.

This Aleutian maidenhair fern with black stems was so fascinating.

We caught a glimpse of Elowah Falls.

A few minutes later, Upper McCord Creek Falls came into view. The trail continued on to the creek above the falls, our turnaround point. It took us a total of about one hour and forty minutes of a leisurely walk to return to the parking lot.

Upper McCord Creek Falls

You can find more information about this hike from oregonhikers.org and gorgefriends.org.

Note for Elowah Falls Trail: It’s a good idea to bring hiking poles and boots with ankle support on the trail to Elowah Falls, especially when it has recently been wet. Some sections of the trail was a bit steep and full of ankle-flipping rocks.

10 Comments

  1. Love the Columbia River Gorge area! Gorgeous pictures that capture the lushness of everything and I’ll bet the waterfalls were running even better than we were there last autumn! Next time you’re in the area, Silver Falls State Park is worth checking out, too! 🙂

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    1. Thanks Matthew. When in the Portland area, the Gorge is a must-visit place. When the trail to the base of Elowah Falls is opened, it can be combined with this hike for an even better experience.

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    1. Thanks Ashley. It’s a wonderful hike, especially, for a very little effort. I’m hoping it’s not going to rain on us all the time in Alaska. It’s definitely not as adventurous as your Alaskan road trip. 😉

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  2. Beautiful photos–you and David always find the best hikes! I love the way you captured the beauty of the trail, especially the little details like the ferns and sweet wildflowers that others might miss. McCord Falls is very pretty, but wow, that rock wall with the view of the Gorge is something else! Love the lush green, though I bet the rain and cold that produces that green is not so fun. So excited to hear about your Alaskan cruise–that’s going to be an amazing trip. I’ve never been, but my sister lived there for a few months and loved it–she even got to see the Northern Lights! Can’t wait to read about your Alaskan adventure!

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    1. Thank you Christine. The Columbia River Gorge is such a great recreational area. We could have spent a long time here and still found things to do. I’m sure we’ll be back soon. I’m excited about the Alaskan cruise too. David had been on one before, but this will be my first. Speaking of rain and cold, I’m sure we will have plenty in Alaska during this trip. We’ll pack lots warm clothes.

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