Our first attempt to find Yocum Falls was in March, over Spring Break, and there was still snow on the ground. We were not successful. In July we returned, and with a clear view of the ground we were able to make our way down to the waterfall.
The hike begins at the historic marker for Laurel Hill, with stairs leading up to the old highway. After a short distance, a trail splits off the road to the left. This is part of the Oregon Trail, which you can read about on the historic marker. We followed this trail for about a quarter of a mile and didn’t see anything that was obviously a remnant of the wagon-lowering process, so we turned around and went back to the old highway. It is fun to say we hiked a portion of the Oregon Trail, even if the only thing that distinguished it as such were the signs.
Back on the old highway, our directions were to follow the road until we could hear the waterfall. This was a bit ambiguous for us, but when we thought we were in the right spot, we found a way down that looked passable, and we were thrilled that we had stuck with it. Yocum Falls is beautiful, and it’s quite a peaceful, secluded spot.
My husband and son climbed back up right next to the waterfall, but due to the shoe-eating mud, my dog and I went back the way we had come. After a while, my guys had still not returned and I began to worry about them. It turns out, they followed the creek above the waterfall for a little while and saw a couple more smaller waterfalls (not included in my list). They then made their way back to the old highway, but due to the twists and turns of the road, it took them much longer to get back to me than expected.
If they had continued following the creek, I expect they would have soon arrived at Upper Yocum Falls, which is visible from the Mirror Lake trailhead. There is no place for them to have climbed out at that spot, however, so I’m glad they turned around. We drove the short distance to the trailhead, competed for a parking spot with the gazillions of hikers out for the Independence Day weekend, stepped outside to take our picture, and moved on. We actually spent more time trying to find a parking spot than we did looking at the waterfall!
Yocum Falls: Highly Recommended (3 stars) (Waterfall – 3 stars, Trail – 2 stars, Experience – 3 stars)
Upper Yocum Falls: Low Priority (1 star) (1 star for Waterfall & Experience, n/a for Trail)
Distance from Beaverton: About an hour and a half drive east
Nearest town: Government Camp
Nearest city: Portland
Length of round-trip hike: About 1.2 miles
Best season to visit: Summer. Don’t attempt this with snow on the ground.
Things to know: The path down is a bit steep, and actually is not a path at all.
Toilet / Amenities: Toilet at Mirror Lake Trailhead
How to get there:
- From Rhododendron, drive 6.2 miles east on Hwy 26.
- Park on the side of the highway at a historical marker for Laurel Hill. There is room for several cars here.
- Take the stairs up to the old highway. Follow it to the right for about half a mile.
- Carefully pick a spot to make your way down to the creek.
- To get to Upper Yocum Falls, continue east on Hwy 26 another .9 mile to the Mirror Lake Trailhead. The waterfall is visible from the parking area downstream from the bridge.
- http://www.oregonwaterfalls.net/yocum.htm (This link is labelled “Yocum Falls” but actually describes Upper Yocum Falls.)