There are three waterfalls off of Highway 202 between Jewell and Astoria. The first, Little Fishhawk Falls, is viewed from the northern parking lot of the Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area. The wildlife area provides food and habitat for wintering Roosevelt elk and other native wildlife species. The animals are the reason to visit this spot, not the waterfall. We didn’t even take a picture of the waterfall because the view was so distant.
The next waterfall is definitely worth a visit. Fishhawk Falls is located in a county park and is a short, easy hike from the parking lot. You can’t get close to the base of the falls without getting your feet wet and scrambling over fallen trees, but since we visited in December, we satisfied ourselves with the view at the end of the trail.
Barth Falls is a measly 5-foot drop by the side of the highway that is half waterfall and half fish ladder. It is truly nothing special. Our visit, though, was made unforgettable when my son fell in the creek – above the waterfall. As I mentioned earlier, we visited in December, and the winter rains had swollen the river to a frenzied, bloated state. My husband and son had walked on a concrete wall out to the rock separating fish ladder and waterfall, and I remained behind praying my heart out. On their return, my son’s foot slipped on the wall and he fell. Thankfully, my husband had a hold of his hand and was able to pull him to safety. Apart from a completely soaked outfit for the boy and a heart attack for me, no harm was done. Thank you, Jesus.
Fishhawk Falls – Worth the Effort (2 stars); (Waterfall – 2 stars, Trail – 2 stars, Experience – 3 stars)
Little Fishhawk & Barth Falls – Low Priority (1 star); (Waterfall – 1 star, Trail – n/a, Experience – 1 star)
Distance from Beaverton: About one hour and 15 minutes’ drive northwest
Nearest town: Jewell
Nearest city: Portland
Length of round-trip hike: I am not finding this information on the internet, and unfortunately I did not track our hike when we visited Fishhawk Falls. I want to say it was less than a mile round-trip. If you visit, please track your hike and let me know your results! Little Fishhawk and Barth Falls do not have a hike at all.
Best season to visit: Winter is the best season to visit the Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area, and the waterfalls will be at their fullest then, too. Fishhawk Creek runs decidedly lower in the summer.
Things to know:
- A Fish & Wildlife parking permit is required to visit Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area. This is inexpensive but must be purchased beforehand at Bi-Mart or another vendor. That being said, there was no oversight of this regulation at the wildlife area – not even a sign mentioning it.
- We enjoyed seeing the elk at the wildlife area, but we probably spent less than 10 minutes there. Unless you are really excited by watching elk and other wildlife, I would suggest the visit is not worth the parking fee.
Consider combining this trip with: Youngs River Falls or Little Falls
Toilet / Amenities: Picnic tables at Fishhawk Falls (Lee Wooden County Park)
How to get there:
- From Portland, travel west on Highway 26 to the Jewell Junction, just west of Elderberry Inn.
- Continue north on Highway 103 for nine miles along the Nehalem River to the community of Jewell.
- From Jewell, travel 1.5 miles west on Highway 202 to the first viewing area for the wildlife area. There are two more viewing areas within the next half mile, but I’m only remembering two total, so I think Little Fishhawk is viewed from the second viewpoint. If you find out I’m wrong, please let me know!
- Continue northwest on Highway 202 for 2.5 miles from the third viewing area (4.5 miles from Jewell) to find Lee Wooden County Park and Fishhawk Falls.
- Continue northwest on Highway 202 for approximately 7 more miles. Watch for a sharp bend to the right where the road rounds a cliff. There is room to park on the left side of the highway, with Barth Falls visible from the road. It is more visible from the opposite direction; we passed it and had to do a U-turn when we visited.