We took one of my son’s friends with us to Wahclella Falls, and his reaction as the waterfall came into view was, “Whoa! That is so cool!” It was really cute, and he was right.
Wahclella is an impressive waterfall and is ranked #52 out of the Top 100 Waterfalls in the Northwest according to waterfallsnorthwest.com. It has two tiers, but the upper one is tucked back into a gorge so it can only be seen from certain angles. From the opposite angles, though, East Fork Falls can be seen falling into Wahclella between the two tiers. The union of the two falls is a unique feature that I haven’t yet discovered anywhere else.
The trail actually passes even more waterfalls. The first is Munra Falls, which slides down the rock right next to the trail. It’s so close that during high water seasons, you can reach out and touch it.
There are also some seasonal waterfalls that are unnamed. We went in November and only saw one (as well as a couple of weeping walls), but I saw a picture of another during my research, and one website referenced “several seasonal waterfalls.” The one we saw is a very short distance from Wahclella itself. It’s an ethereal, misty little fall which you can climb up to and put your hands in, and I feel it’s worth mentioning, especially since the trail passes right by it.
Adding to the experience is the wide, expansive viewing area with creek access, boulders to climb, and a cave to explore. What’s not to love?
Okay, one small thing not to love is that a couple spots on the trail were quite muddy when we visited, and our shoes got pretty messy. But really, that’s a small price to pay for such a great experience. Another price to pay, quite literally, is a $5 parking fee, but you can avoid that by parking at Tooth Rock Trailhead a half mile up the road if you’d like.
My rating: Must-see / favorite (4 stars)
(Waterfall – 4 stars, Trail – 3 stars, Experience – 4 stars)
Distance from Beaverton: About an hour drive east
Nearest town: Cascade Locks
Nearest city: Portland
Length of round-trip hike: 2.0 miles
Best season to visit: Any
Things to know: There is a $5 fee to park at the trailhead. Since this is a popular trail, the parking lot might be full and you could have lots of company along the hike. The trail forks after a while and forms a loop. It doesn’t really matter which direction you take at the fork. Bring a picnic and some towels!
Consider combining this trip with: The Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery are less than a mile from the trailhead and are definitely worth a visit. If you want to combine this hike with another waterfall, the closest trip to the west is Elowah Falls and the closest trip to the east is Eagle Creek.
Toilet / Amenities: Toilet
How to get there:
- From I-84, take the Bonneville Dam exit (#40).
- Turn south, and then turn right at the fork. A sign for Wahclella can be seen from the fork in the road.