Plenty of Elk but no Elves

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Falls Creek Falls

North of the Columbia River Gorge is an easy hike to an amazing 350-foot, three-tiered waterfall on Falls Creek.

Like the Silver Falls area, Falls Creek Falls gets little respect. It would likely be a signature state park in most places in the country.

On a beautiful spring morning I hiked to the viewpoint of the lower falls and reveled in the sounds of the water crashing into the cavernous bowl below.

After a healthy climb to a viewpoint above the Falls, I continued another 3 1/2 miles on the trail.

After passing a nice campsite by a small waterfall, I came out into the open near a small pond created by a beaver dam.

Soon I spotted two elk feeding near the pond, with another eight to ten elk nearby. They soon saw me and began moving away. Even after they were out of sight, I could hear them splashing through the water.

On my way back I noticed many fairy bells in bloom along the trail, joined by calypso and striped coral root orchids. I began looking for elves and leprechauns, but had no success.

Life doesn’t get much better.

Lower Falls Creek Falls

Fairy Bell

Elk keeping an eye on me

Tributary Creek


Middle and Lower Falls Creek Falls

Well-anchored footbridge


Large talus slope





Categories: Columbia River Gorge Hikes, Washington Cascades HikesTags: ,


  1. One of our favorite hikes, we usually get to the top of the Falls. Is it worth extending the hike beyond the top of the falls?

  2. Oh my goodness, John, this is heavenly, and you’re right, life doesn’t get better than this. Waterfalls and wild orchids and dogwoods and grazing elk all in one hike — super. Thanks so much. Beautiful descriptions (the elk splashing) and gorgeous photos.

  3. Beautiful!!! Lush and cool looking. Aaaaahhhh

  4. The elk on the left, is that a young male or is it just the way the hair lies?

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