The Beautiful Elowah Falls Hike – Chasing Waterfalls in Oregon

UPDATE 9/2017: Most of the trails in the Gorge are closed from the Eagle Creek Fire damage. They are hoping to reopen by Spring or Summer of 2018. See more on USDA. It saddens us to see so much of the Gorge destroyed by a careless act.

One of the reasons we decided to move to Portland for the year is to go waterfall chasing! Did you know there are more than 200 waterfalls in Oregon? Most people visit Multnomah Falls, but the Columbia River Gorge is home so many more. Our first waterfall hike after moving was to Elowah Falls. We wanted a short and easy one to ease us in.

Elowah Falls (also known as McCord Creek Falls)
Distance: 1.4 Miles Round Trip (Out and Back)
Elevation Gain: 280 Feet
Difficulty: Easy
Height of Falls: 289 Feet
When to Visit: Year Round (best late winter and spring)

It is a relatively easy hike and it’s good for the whole family, especially since it’s so short. We’ve read on some forums that if you’re not in shape, it might be more difficult.

After starting the trail, it climbs slowly until the summit (middle of the hike) and then slopes back downwards. You will come across a few switchbacks before rounding the corner to see the falls.

The falls are beautifully surrounded by rocks, giants boulders, and moss-covered cliffs. Along the hike, you’ll still hear the highway, but once you enter the amphitheater, it feels like you’ve found a secret spot to yourself.

Pro Tips for the Elowah Falls Hike

  • The hike starts at the Elowah Falls Parking Lot / the John B Yeon Trailhead along I-84.
  • Bring shoes with good traction and preferably waterproof. The rocks are slippery and it’s always pretty damp.
  • As you’ll learn in Portland, always have a rain jacket handy! I just started using this lightweight one that’s easy to carry. We wear these for cold weather and these for warmer weather (they’re nice because it’s soft unlike the ones made of vinyl / plastic on the inside).
  • Pick up a Northwest Forest Pass online or you can also get the annual pass.
  • Dogs are allowed on the trail but must be kept on a leash.
  • Remember to pack out what you pack in. Including dog poop! We saw several bags of it just sitting right by the trailhead. 😒

Connecting Hikes + Nearby

  • You can also hike the Upper McCord Creek Falls, which is an offshoot of this trail.
  • You can also continue your hike 2.2 miles to Munra Point.

WANT TO STAY NEARBY? Click Here to Find the Best Prices and Read Hotel Reviews

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Have you done any waterfall hikes lately?


Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 50 travel blogs in the world. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They move to a new city every year and currently live in Portland, Oregon.

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