We turned the corner to get away from the crowd when we saw a small path leading down to the water. As if it were a secret spot, we hurried down the trail. As we walked past a boulder, it felt like we found a corner of the forest all to ourselves!
Wahclella Falls is one of the more popular waterfall hikes in the gorge, and it deserves to be. It’s a short hike that takes you to two waterfalls and has an open area for plenty of photo opps. It was our #22 and #23 on our Oregon waterfall bucket list.
From Portland, take I-84E to exit 40 toward Bonneville Dam. Turn right onto Yeon State Park and follow the road down to the parking lot. It’s a small lot so try to visit during off hours.
From the trailhead, you’ll walk on a wide path along the river. You’ll pass a small dam used by the Bonneville Fish Hatchery then continue as the trail narrows. Soon afterward, you’ll cross a bridge that takes you right by Munra Falls. You’re so close to the falls that you might get splashed!
As you continue up the canyon, there will be some steep drop offs so be sure to watch your step. You will eventually reach a fork where the trail becomes a loop. We started by going up to the left. After hiking a bit further, we started hearing the crowds and waterfall.
Around another bend, we came out on the overlook of the falls. It was filled with people taking photos and a couple of tripods set up as well. We had to patiently wait to get a chance to take a photo then continued to explore. As you start to loop back, be sure to look back at the falls. There are other vantage points, which makes this waterfall a lot of fun to explore and shoot.
Above the main falls that you see, there is also an upper falls that drops about 50 feet. In the winter, you can apparently see a third tier too, which means that the falls are different heights at different times of the year.
On the way back, you’ll get another great bridge view and there is alcove as well.
ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR YOUR HIKE
- Go early in the morning on during the weekday to avoid the crowds.
- Expect to be patient and wait to get a chance for photos.
- Check out different angles and different vantage points.
- If you want to get close to the falls without getting wet, it’s always a good idea to bring a rain jacket (or even wear waterproof pants).
WHAT TO PACK
- Water & Snacks
- Shoes with good traction (His + Hers)
- Tripod, Lens Cloth, ND Filter
- Camera (5D Mark III) + Lenses (35mm + 70-200mm)
- Adventure Photographer’s Backpack
- Latourell Falls (21.8 miles / 37 minutes)
- Oneonta Gorge Waterfall Hike (13.7 miles / 17 minutes)
- Munra Point Hike (same starting point)
- Multnomah Falls (15.9 miles / 22 minutes)
- Elowah Falls Hike (10.5 miles / 14 minutes)